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9 myths about executive coaching

In our executive coaching programs, we work according to the method developed by Dr. Marshall Goldsmith during the last decades. Meanwhile, Marshall Goldsmith has almost written 30 books. At the end of 2009, he was elected by the English Times and by Forbes as one of the 15 most influential thinkers in the field of management. Today, his book 'What Got You Here, Won't Get You There' is available in 37 languages and according to the New York Times as well as the Wall Street Journal, it has been a bestseller for several months.

Each week, we are glad to see the positive difference our executive coaching programs make for our coachees. Unfortunately, daily practice has shown that executive coaching is still often being misused. Especially on the Benelux market, we often still have many things to explain as far as Executive Coaching is concerned: what it is, but especially what it is not. This is the reason why Dr. Goldsmith has developed the following overview: the 9 myths about executive coaching.
  1. 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?

  2. 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 theories 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.

  3. In order to change their behavior, the executive must like their coach As executive coaches, we have to be direct but fair. It's all about the result, not the question whether the executives like their coach or not.

  4. 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 to 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.

  5. 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 their strategy. The executive coach focuses on the effectiveness of the executive’s behavior.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Coaching is only useful for the top management When our method 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.

  9. 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 modify the enduring behavioral change that has been developing itself throughout the years. Executive Coaching is the linking pin between the appraisal, the promotion and the remuneration of the management. After all, if you really want to work on your company’s mission and vision, wouldn’t you like to be sure that the senior people in your organization behave accordingly?


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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