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Annie Hayes

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Coaching: The rough guide

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Jeremy Lazarus, Life and Business Coach and NLP Practitioner explodes the myths of executive coaching and finds out what we can learn from our friends across the pond.


It is happening in America, and it will surely happen over here. Shareholders are expecting directors and senior managers to have business coaches. And why shouldn’t they? After all, champions in most other fields have coaches, so why shouldn’t executives, especially when there is so much evidence of the value it can have for personal and business development.

In the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development’s 2004 training & development survey, 99% of respondents agreed that ‘coaching can deliver tangible benefits to both individuals and organisations’ and 92% of respondents agreed that ‘when coaching is managed effectively it can have a positive impact on an organisation’s bottom line.’ No wonder The Institute of Directors says that ‘There will be a time in the near future where it will be commonplace to have a coach if you are a director.’

What’s all the fuss about?

Definitions will vary, but coaching is essentially a conversation or series of conversations where the coach facilitates the client to find solutions to problems they may or may not be aware of. It is rarely about ‘advising’, because, as the oriental saying goes, ‘if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime.’

A coach will challenge beliefs and assumptions and support the coachee through the peaks and troughs of their career while helping them to achieve their goals and aspirations.

The coach may assign the coachee specific tasks orientated towards their objectives, these help to focus the mind on the end goal. Assigning some time for coaching also allows the executive valuable time to reflect on progress and issues, time that may not be easily sought at other times in their schedule.


Exploding the myths
Common myths about coaching include:

  • 1. Coaching doesn’t work. Bad coaching doesn’t work very well, but a good coach coupled with a willing client will yield benefits exceeding the cost many times over.

  • The coach has to be an expert in the client’s business or situation. Since the main role of the coach is to ask questions, coaching results are better if the coach is an expert in NOT knowing the answer. coaching is about facilitating clients to find their own solutions, not about providing them for the client.

  • 2. I’m too busy for coaching. Then you’d benefit more than most. Often, people are too busy because they cannot separate the ‘important’ from the ‘urgent’. Coaching helps clients focus on the essential tasks that provide the largest possible impact.

  • 3. Coaching won’t work for me. If you’re committed to believing that, then you’ll be right. However, if you’re willing to be open about it, and genuinely ‘go for it’, you’ll probably find the benefits will astound you. Certainly, in the author’s experience as a coach, the clients who are most open to being coached generally obtain the best results form coaching.

  • 4. People need coaching. It’s a bit like winning the Lottery – very few people need to win the Lottery, but it sure makes a difference if you do.
  • The working impact
    Ted (not his real name) was the MD of a very successful and high profile organisation. When I met him, he had been off from work for several weeks with a variety of stress-related illnesses. He approached me for some coaching, and the first thing we worked on was whether he wanted to stay in such a high-pressured environment, given the impact it was having on his health.

    After a couple of sessions, Ted realised that he loved his role, and would be delighted to stay if he could somehow find a way to manage his workload to be able to leave work at 6.00pm three days per week and still get the job done.

    We worked on strategies for delegation, time management and work-life balance, as well as how to ensure he got enough exercise and spent enough time with his family. He casually mentioned that he’d love the company to get into ‘The Sunday Times’ Top 100 companies list, but that it was unlikely to happen within five years.

    Ted focused his time on the tasks that only he could do, and those which gave the company most benefit to the bottom line, and either delegated or ignored the rest.

    Moreover, Ted stuck to his commitment to look after his health and find time for his family. Within one year the company was in ‘The Sunday Times’ Top 100 companies list, and for that year and the following two years produced record profits. And whilst this is a spectacularly great result for the client, it is far from unusual to find huge benefits from coaching, as the CIPD survey shows.

    Whilst coaching may not be suitable for everyone all of the time, there is no doubt that good coaching will pay for itself many times over, both from the business point of view and from that of the individual client.


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Annie Hayes

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