Executive Coaching – Dispelling the 13 Myths and All You Need to Know About Having a Coach
1. MYTH: Executive coaching takes up a lot of time
FACT: This is not true, but it does depend on your point of view. Every executive that I coach values their time highly. Executives who are serious about their personal development quickly appreciate that the time spent with their executive c executive coaching oach is valuable and delivers many tangible and intangible benefits. Not only is the coaching of great value to them but it also delivers great improvements to their organisation as the executive becomes more inspired and fulfilled in their role. These effects are felt by the executive’s team, their peers, their clients, their stakeholders and their bosses. Also, executive coaching is a form of personal development specifically designed for busy executives who want to become better than they are right now. To attain maximum benefit from the coaching the sessions take place at the client’s workplace and last from 90 minutes to two hours, depending on the needs of the executive or the coachee (the person receiving the coaching). Sessions take place every four to six weeks. Again this frequency of meeting is tailored to meet the needs of the executive and organisation. Many other executive coaching practitioners spend an hour a week with their executive clients, but research at Ashridge School of Business has shown that it is more effective to allow four to six weeks between the coaching sessions and to ensure that each session is a maximum of two hours. This is the model we employ at New Thought Leader. After each coaching session the executive will have some follow-on activities to complete. Some coaches call this homework but I like to call it job-work as the assigned tasks usually relate to the work that the executive is currently engaged in. There might be some additional tasks that the executive may not normally perform, such as completing an assessment or a reflective journal that captures their thoughts or feelings as they are engaging in a new behaviour. These activities are designed with the executive’s schedule in mind and can usually be completed with a maximum of two hours effort between the sessions. The total time that would be committed by the executive during a typical six month engagement can be achieved within 22 hours. This works out to a little under an hour a week on average. So now I ask you the question – is an hour a week too much time to invest in your professional development?
2. MYTH: It is impossible to measure the outcomes of executive coaching
FACT: This myth is a sort of half truth. Very often organisations fall into the trap of wanting measurable and verifiable outcomes from all of the coaching in which they have invested. Many of the outcomes of coaching are predictable and measurable, especially in a programme of behavioural or skills coaching. Some forms of coaching however are less predictable and are often not measurable or verifiable, such as coaching contracts that are based on exploration and discovery. Contracts such as these are only ever verifiable by the coachee who will know when they have achieved the goals of their coaching. Another point to mention here is not all of the outcomes of coaching are predictable. This is because the business of coaching deals with human nature, which is probably one of the most unpredictable forces on this planet. A coaching engagement will commence with all the best intentions of achieving certain goals but even the most skilled of executive coaches cannot forecast all the possible outcomes of coaching. That is the nature of change and uncertainty involved in the process. As coaches, we are skilled at managing change and the chaos that can arise from the change-work, but we can’t say with 100% certainty that the outcomes that we anticipate at the outset of the coaching will transpire. The fact is that many executives who participate in a programme of executive coaching receive more benefit than they bargained for. One final point here is that coaching provides so many intangible benefits that it can be challenging or dare I say it, impossible to measure them all. Where possible the coach and the organisation paying for the coaching should agree in advance which outcomes of the programme can be realis