Oct 112014

Dr. Earl R. Smith II

There are quite a few preconceived notions about business coaching and some of these notions are actually more myth than reality. I have been working as a coach for a couple of decades now. Occasionally I meet someone who tells me something about coaching that just does not fit with my understanding of it. I have culled out ten that I wanted to share with you. Following is a list of the ten most common myths and their respective realities.

Myth 1: Executive who say or feel that they do not really have any problems and that they are, in fact, doing rather well and there do not need a coach.

Reality: Even thought there may be an inkling of truth to this, it is important to understand that business coaching is not about fixing problems. Business coaching is about creating new possibilities to improve yourself and your company.

Myth 2: Corporate and Business coaching is nothing more than a cunning way for a CEO or Chairman to telling their management what to do.

Reality: The most effective business coaching actually focuses on generating improved results by helping their clients to develop new solutions. A good coach is a facilitator and does not tell clients what to do.

Myth 3: The executive will have many questions whereas the executive coach will have the answers to those questions.

Reality: I have held the position of CEO six times and worked with a wide range of CEOs, Chairmen and senior executives. Nevertheless, that does not give me all the answers. A coach does have both answers and questions – sometimes my questions are far more valuable than my answers. My client generally has most of the answers within them. It is up to me to help them discover those answers.

Myth 4: Members of management who have poor leadership skills and/or cause trouble within the corporate world are the only individuals who would benefit from business coaching.

Reality: This could not be further from the truth! Executive whose potential is unrealized or have reached a plateau in their leadership development are those that need business coaching to guide them through the obstacle. My favorite client is a diamond in the rough. Give me lots of unrealized potential and we can move mountains. Working with a perennial pain in the butt is just an exercise in reducing the size of the hemorrhoid.

Myth 5: Business coaching is a waste of time as all it involves is sitting around and talking.

Reality: This position is only possible if I have not coached you. My clients will tell you that we are moving faster, making changes and developing new and more productive habits and covering more ground than they ever thought they were capable of. Good coaching is an intensive – even exhausting – undertaking. Successful business coaching will come from asking the right questions at the right time. A very well prepared question may be worth hours of listening

Myth 6: Business coaching is very time consuming.

Reality: With most of my clients, I have to hold back – reduce the pace – so that they have time to process what we have been working on. Good coaching accomplishes a great deal during the one-on-one sessions – but these only amount to an hour and a half a week. The real demands on the client come between those sessions. Efficient business coaching will ultimately increase the probability of completing tasks right the first time and thereby saving time in the future. My clients get more productive and less stressed as the program proceeds.

Myth 7: It is too expensive hire executive coaching services

Reality: Unfortunately, this could be true with some business coaches that are out there, but certainly not for all business coaches. One of my new clients recently observed that I provided an estimate for the initial coaching phase a fifth of the other estimates. A proper business coach will always focus on the value that the business coaching can provide. Another client recently told his board that he received ten to twenty dollars in value for every one he paid me. Coaching is all about an increasing return on investment. If the cost is not clearly justified by the benefits, then find another coach.

Myth 8: Some executives believe that they can coach themselves or that they can simply just talk to their best friends. Many seek coaching from books – reading one after another, they become ‘experts’ on this or that perspective.

Reality: Neither an executive nor their friends can remain unbiased. Good coaching requires an unbiased approach. It also involved judgments and experiences that are beyond the clients. I am a big advocate of never hiring a coach who has not done what you are seeking to do. Some ‘coaches’ try to hide the fact that they have never been successful in business – never assembled and managed a winning team – never done successfully what they are constantly advising their clients to do. The strongest reason to hire a particular coach is that they have taken the journey that you are starting on – its even better if they have successfully made that journey multiple times.

Myth 9: Men cannot coach women and women cannot coach men.

Reality: I have never found gender to be a problem. The biggest challenge – and one that I will not undertake – is coaching a lack of maturity and seriousness. Compared to that challenge, gender differences are immaterial. Good coaching is very gender neutral.

Myth 10: An Executive business coach must share a similar personality with the executive obtaining coaching.

Reality: My clients will tell you that this is not only not true but also not possible. Personality differences are the key ingredients in making a good coaching engagement work. Coaching is about personal growth and leadership development. The client should not be looking in the mirror – working with a coach who shares most of their personality traits. The engagement brings value if the relationship involves mentoring and advisory in addition to being coaching.

There is one unavoidable reality about coaching – every day you delay is a day of delayed realization of potential. Procrastination is the enemy and myths like the ones above only keep you from realizing your potential – discovering the life you can lead. If you want to learn more about my coaching, send me an e-mail and we will arrange a time to talk.

© Dr. Earl R. Smith II


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