Updated: Dec 30, 2022
Hello beautiful humans!
Ask a 100 different people what coaching is and you will likely get 100 different answers. Coaching is one of those professions that is highly underestimated and misunderstood by those who have never taken a coaching journey. For those who have (with a responsible and experienced coach), it can be one of the most rewarding endeavors their business undertakes.
I could tell you all about all the wonderful benefits there are to having a coaching culture in your business. I could tell you how it links the differences of leadership and employees to form a common goal, how it can help motivate, stimulate and engage staff and how it can help to increase job satisfaction, focus, and productivity while decreasing turnover and conflicts. In fact, I have done this in previous blog articles and probably will in the future, but in this article I wanted to address what coaching is not.
If it's on the internet it must be true
I recently encountered a woman who believes that she is leading her team with a coaching culture. When I asked what she (let's call her Jane) meant, she told me that she is very hands-on with her team. Jane said that whenever there is opposition to a procedure change or other matter, she always takes the time to invite the person into her office so she can "coach" them and provide them with feedback about why the change is necessary. I humbly disagreed with Jane, but she insisted that it was coaching because she always uses questions.
Jane had fallen into the misconception that Questions = Coaching because she researched it and read it on the internet. No, Jane! This is not coaching. This is being a dictator in a unilateral leadership style where you micromanage your team by manipulation. Attempting to justify your actions by asking questions, providing feedback, and calling it coaching does not mean you are coaching. It also makes you a very poor leader. If we were able to ask her staff how they feel about her leadership style, I am almost certain the report would not be a good one. Unfortunately, it gives them a very poor outlook on what coaching is really about.
Jane was my inspiration
It has actually taken me quite a while to compile my research for this article. Jane inspired me to ask people what they thought coaching was and what they thought a coach did. Frankly, I was a bit surprised at the number of misconceptions that were out there and this study based on a very small number of people (about 20).
So without further ado... here are the lists of myths that I heard and my responses to them.
#1 - Coaches are just inexperienced therapists.
Ouch! That might be offensive if it were remotely true. Therapist, in the most
general of terms, focus on you past traumas that are creating the negative
behaviors of your present. A coach works on your present behaviors to help
you set goals and achieve potential in your future. A good coach will be able
to recognize and refer a client to a therapist when needed.
#2 - Anyone can be a coach.
While it is true that technically anyone can proclaim themselves to be a
coach (due to the lack of regulating this profession by a governing body
except in Switzerland), calling yourself a coach and being a coach are two
very different things. Just like any other field, there are those who have
natural talent, those who have learned talent and those who just don't. I
would never go to a mechanic for brain surgery no matter how much of a
genius that person is. Experience and education go along with when it comes
#3 - Coaching is for people/businesses who have problems.
Coaching is about partnering with individuals and businesses to create goals
that will help them to reach their full potential. Coaches don't treat people or
businesses as if they are something that needs to be fixed. Everyone has the
ability to do better and coaching helps to realize and achieve that goal.
#4 - Coaching takes years to be effective.
Coaching in an organization can take some time, however, I have seen clients
make tremendous breakthroughs in just a couple of sessions. The growth and
progress of coaching has no set time limit. For those who are motivated to
fully participate in a coaching program, results can be seen fairly quickly. It's
an investment and although it's not a quick fix, it doesn't take years to be
#5 - Coaching is the same as consulting.
Think of it this way... a consultant is like a tour guide at a museum pointing out
the this and that of what they consider to be important. A Coach is more like
the curator of the museum. They are more in the background, happy to lead
you through the displays, but they are more interested in helping you gain
your potential by partnering with you and exploring what you feel is
#6 - Coaching makes you look weak to your employees.
This is only true if they believe this myth. Being honest and transparent with
employees and even creating a program in which they can participate in the
coaching process, well, there's no better way to see the truth in something
than to experience it for yourself. If you are not able to create a program then
just explain to them what coaching is or, better yet, have the coach do it.
#7 - Coaches don't have any real training.
Referring back to #2, it's true that there are no regulations for what education
and/or experience that a coach is required to have. However, a good coach
has engaged in education or training and an even better coach seeks or has
obtained accreditation with ICF (International Coaching Federation) which
has set the gold standard for the coaching industry.
#8 - All coaches do is ask questions.
I would hope not! Although coaches do try to steer away from giving advice
like a consultant or mentor would, they do share experiences, provide
exercises and information, share observations and many, many other things.
The principle behind asking questions is to be curious about what you want
and who you are so they can help you to identify and set the goals that will
best benefit you and/or your business.
While I enjoyed writing this article, I hope that I have dispelled some of the many rumors about what a coach and coaching really is. I'm sure there are many other myths out there, in fact I know there are, but the truth is that doing a little bit of research, as you would before hiring any professional for your business, can eliminate the "what ifs" and help you discover the "I'm glad I dids".
Research a company that utilizes a coaching program and think about how a a similar program could be tailored to meet the needs of your company.
Morals of the Story:
Just because you heard it somewhere doesn't make it true.
To know the truth, just ask.