Apprentice boss Lord Alan Sugar has been overwhelmingly voted as the UK’s number one nightmare career coach.
According to a poll of 1,370 managers undertaken by the Institute of Leadership & Management in order to mark the launch of its ‘Perform at Your Peak’ campaign to promote the benefits of professional coaching, just under a third of respondents plumped for Sugar as the coach from hell.
Next in line was X Factor supremo Simon Cowell with 17% of the vote, while Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson came in a respectable third at 16%.
Top of the list of preferred coaches, however, was Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson, who scooped up nearly a quarter of votes in favour. Lord Sugar’s colleague on the Apprentice Karren Brady came in second (11%) and Rugby World Cup-winning, ex-England coach Sir Clive Woodward was a close third (10%).
Penny de Valk, the ILM’s chief executive, said that coaching was valuable to help individuals and team arrive at their own solutions rather than simply be told what to do.
“People learn when they are stretched and challenged and a bit of performance anxiety is no bad thing, but not when it is disabling. A coach’s role is to raise the bar, then help people get over it. Naturally, Lord Sugar’s TV persona does make for entertaining viewing, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into a great lesson in what works in the real world,” she added.
But the survey also revealed that almost two thirds of the managers questioned felt they were failing to perform at optimum levels. Some four out of five believed that coaching at work could help, however. While three out of five had received such support in the past, a huge 92% of the sample attested that their performance had improved as a result.
De Valk said: “Developing managers’ coaching skills is the single most cost-effective development investment a business can make, and the wise CEO will ensure coaching is introduced across their organisation to help staff work at the optimum level.”
But she warned that coaching must be undertaken by skilled professionals rather than poorly trained or inexperienced people who tended simply to provide one-to-one instruction, which could lead to dependency.
“True coaching – by trained coaches – ensures staff work out their own solutions and approach rather than being given a moment in time solution,” de Valk added.