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the tèn biggest myths of executive coaching



Sometimes we are puzzled why companies pay up to 25 to 40% of an annual executives salary to recruit new top managers through prestigious headhunters. But the same companies are regularly hesitating to invest in a serious 12-15 month Executive Coaching program to assist their key people to sustainably grow in their effectiveness. Therefore we present you with 10 myths about executive coaching.

  1. Executive coaching is the last attempt to correct someones behavior. 'If that doesn't work, we will have to....etc.'. This is probably the biggest misconception of all. Our job is to work with successful executives, managers and professionals to get even better at what they are already doing. Executive coaching should not be used to try to correct behavior as last warning. When it's time for the person and the organization to go their own ways, and the organization has made that decision. It's the responsibility of the company to have an open and frank conversation with the individual. Executive coaches, also the very very best, cannot fix something that's broken. We're not magicians.
  2. The result of executive coaching is not tangible and is difficult to measure. The purpose of coaching is to achieve positive behavioral change. It's effectiveness can easily be measured. Ask colleagues to follow up sustainable and positive changes in the executives’ behavior. Is the new behavior visible or not?
  3. The job of an executive coach consists of being a role model in terms of good leadership behavior. Generally, most people we coach don’t have problems to understand the theory about leadership. Libraries are written about this topic. However, our coachees are having problems to put these theories into practice. Our method focuses on the execution. No more, no less.
  4. In order to change behavior, the executive must like their coach. As executive coaches, we have to be direct but fair. It's only about the result, not so much whether the executives like their coach or not. This is one of major downsides of organizing a 'beauty contest' to select your coach. You probably end up with the coach you have a good chemistry with. And that is not per se the best selection criterion to achieve your goals.
  5. The more time the coach is spending with the executive, the better the result will be. Each time again, research shows there is no correlation between the amount of time spent on the coaching and the result achieved. The best success prognosis is the extent to which the executives receive feedback from their colleagues and are being followed up by them.
  6. Executive coaches need to support the executives in their strategy. An effective executive coach can understand the business, but isn’t supposed to give the executive advice about strategy. The executive coach focuses on the effectiveness of the executive’s behavior.
  7. Executive coaches can help solving character-related problems. Since it is impossible to change the character of people of a certain age, our programs don’t focus on this aspect. Executive coaching can’t help solving problems about integrity either and can’t thus be used for this purpose.
  8. Coaches are remunerated as fairly as possible for the coachee. Even today, many coaches still get paid according to the amount of time they spend with their coachee. We are changing this.
  9. Coaching is only useful for top management. When our program is embedded in the company as a self-proving process leading to results, coaching can be extended towards all other management levels of the organization.
  10. Coaching does not work for multinationals with many different cultures. Meanwhile, the method according to which executives ask the support of their own colleagues, has proven to be successful for multinationals in Europe, Asia as well as North and South America. In the meantime, we have also had successful experiences with our method in not-for profit organizations.
Executive coaching is no rocket science, but mind you: this does not mean that it is easy! It is hard to change behavior that has been developing itself throughout the years. Executive Coaching is the linking pin between the appraisal, promotion, demotion and the remuneration of management.

As always, we'd love to get your thoughts. Please use the spaces hereunder or send us an email.

Paul Donkers

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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