10 Frequent Misconceptions About Executive Coaching

April 25, 2013

Executive Coaching

Despite the growing popularity of executive coaching, common misconceptions persist. These misconceptions revolve around the nature of the work executive coaches do and the results they’re expected to achieve. It’s time to uproot the most persistent and pernicious of these misconceptions.

10 Frequent Misconceptions About Executive Coaching: 

  1. I don’t have issues and don’t need executive coaching.” Many individuals think coaching is a sign of a shortcoming rather than a key tool for improving performance or building a business. Coaching allows you to identify and build on your strengths. It’s not a punishment for a particular failure, though it might help you avoid repeating destructive patterns in the future.
  1. I don’t want others to know I’m being coached.” Instead of being kept a secret, coaching should involve others in the process, including superiors, colleagues, and subordinates.  Many coaches begin with a 360-degree assessment, which by nature is an open process.  Openness can foster commitment. It’s also a sign of a confident and proactive individual.
  1. Coaching is now a standard process.” Despite efforts to standardize the practice of coaching, there are as many approaches as there are coaches, and this will not change.  Some coaches are continually developing new insights into the process and it may be wise to seek one that is on the learning edge rather than a coach whose ideas are set.
  1. Women don’t get coaching.” Two out of three who get coaching are probably men, and that reflects their proportionate representation at the managerial and executive levels. But that has been steadily changing. Today at least one in three of those getting coaching are women, and those number will only rise.
  1. Coaching is just for high-potentials.” In fact, more people are seeking coaching, whether or not they have been identified as high-potentials by senior management. Everyone has barriers, and coaches can help identify them and build bridges.
  1. “An executive coach needs to be certified.” Certification may reassure your employer, but it is no guarantee of professionalism, or whether that coach will be the right fit for your needs. Instead, consider carefully the business experience a coach brings to the table.
  1. An executive coach is a kind of therapist.” Some coaches approach their mission in this way, but increasingly executive coaches address business issues with a practical eye, and do not engage in psychotherapy. Most coaching is about empathy, trust, and engagement with the client.
  1. Women should coach women.” This is no more true than that men ought to coach men.  Look for professionalism and business experience, not secondary considerations.
  1. “A coach needs to be tough.” There is the persistent image of the bullying and badgering coach. While this style might work for some, it is really more essential to have a rapport with a coach. If one is not comfortable, it may be time to find a new coach.
  1. I won’t qualify for executive coaching.” There is no such thing as qualifying for coaching, and neither is there any need to wait for HR or top management to tap someone for this vital support. If an individual wants coaching, then ask for it.

Some coaches have a very directive approach, but the great majority try to discover what is best for their clients. Telling a person what to do won’t develop leadership thinking or skills. Instead, a wise coach asks questions, and asks for an invitation to pursue solutions.

What misconceptions do you have about executive coaching?


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