Updated: Feb 4
When I say I am a coach a common response is “Yes but what do you actually do?”. If you search online for a definition of coaching you will get a number of different responses. I agree with the definition of The Academy of Executive Coaching, who describe coaching as “about improving leadership and management performance; it is about using the inherent wisdom and knowledge the coachee has to find their own solutions”.
But even when people understand what coaching entails and can see the benefits they may still be reluctant because of their perceptions. Here are five reasons why people feel that coaching is not for them.
Coaching is just for senior executives
Coaching has a reputation for being only for senior business leaders. This may be partly to do with the phrase “executive coaching” that is often used to describe coaching in a business context. None of my clients can be described as senior executives, but all would say they have benefited from coaching as these testimonials describe. Everyone has the right to be able to perform at their best, and thrive in their career.
Coaching is too expensive
There are two ways of looking at this - one is cost, and the other is value. From a cost point of view, coaching works best as a programme and not a one-off. Therefore you should be looking to budget for a coaching package of anything between 4-6 sessions and not per hour. The cost of such a package can vary from around £400 to much, much more.
However, if the purpose of the coaching is to improve performance at work, move into a different role or get that promotion, then you need to think about the value that coaching would bring to you and therefore whether it's worth the investment. My own experience of coaching was that yes it absolutely was.
Two other things you may consider: see if your employer offers coaching and take advantage of it, and/or consider online coaching. You don’t have a lot of choice at the moment with the latter, but it can be a very cost-effective method. Many coaches will offer you a free taster session. If you would be interested in having one with me then you can get in touch via the website.
Coaching is just for those who have big problems
Coaching can help on a wide range of issues, big and small. Over the years I have taken part in many practice sessions where I had to be coached by a coach-in-training. Coming up with new issues each time seemed impossible but I always found something, and without question, each time I learnt something about myself, clarified my thinking and took away some tangible actions.
My clients are successful in their own field but want to be even better performers. Their goals will vary, but the aim each time is to get them closer to achieving their goal.
On another level, this is also wrong in that if you have particularly mental health concerns, or are overcoming significant trauma then you should seek specialist help.
If the answers are within me then why do I need someone to help me find them?
When I explained coaching to my most down-to-earth friend, her response was “well if people know what they need to do then why don’t they just do it?” She then paused, went “hmm” and then reflected on why her many attempts at fitness regimes had never quite worked.
Sometimes we have ideas about what we need to do but can’t make them specific enough to be actionable. Sometimes we know what we should do but our inner critic holds us back. Sometimes we have deep fears - of not being liked, of being seen as weak or incapable - that prevent us from doing what we want to do. Coaching can help you work all this.
Coaching is "fluffy"
Coaching provides intellectual stimulation and leads to lasting action. My vision is for everyone I coach to learn something new about themselves, have a question to ponder on and make a step towards a better work-life and career. If you’re not used to talking about yourself, your needs and wants and what drives you, then it can feel a little uncomfortable at first but the coach’s aim should be for you to feel in a safe space so you feel able, to be honest, and open.
So, five coaching myths, hopefully, busted. If you want to get a bit more of a flavour of how I coach then check out this video:
But I want to use this to open a debate - what has stopped you from seeking coaching?
If you are a coach, what other myths would you add to this list?