Debunking the Myths of Leadership Coaching

Tara Rhodes

January 17, 2017

Coaching has really increased in popularity. As much as you sports buffs may think I’m talking about athletic coaching, I am speaking from a personal growth perspective. Simply put, coaching is personal training that helps professionals reach their career goals, no matter where they are in the workforce – entry-level, CEO, and everything in between.

Much like how a personal trainer works your body, a coach works your mind, helping you develop the mental strength, emotional intelligence, and instinctive ability to problem solve and relate with others in the workplace.

Since this is a relatively new concept to many, I thought I would take a minute to debunk some myths I often hear.

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Myth 1: Coaching only fixes problems.

The first time I came across coaching as a method for personal growth, I was under the impression that it was only used as a remedial tool. And it’s a fair assumption to make considering that this is what coaching has historically been leveraged for. However, in more recent years, companies have seen massive success when helping top performers achieve even more by guiding them on how to live a more fulfilled life. According to an article by Monique Valcour in Harvard Business Review, “You succeed as a coach by helping your team members articulate their goals and challenges and find their own answers. This is how people clarify their priorities and devise strategies that resonate with what they care about most and that they will be committed to putting into action.”

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Myth 2: Coaching doesn’t yield a return on investment.

If done right, coaching can help drive sales, increase engagement and workplace satisfaction, and revitalize creativity. Why? Because coaches are experts at the process of changing behaviour. A study conducted by the International Coaches Federation (ICF) has found that from an individual standpoint, coaching clients can see an ROI of 3.44 times the amount spent. And from an organizational perspective, companies can expect an ROI of 7 times the initial investment.

There is also the Employee Positivity Factor which, though not included monetarily in studies measuring ROI, recognizes that happy and positive employees are more productive. It can mean a host of benefits. If the employee interacts with customers, a more positive experience can result in an increase in sales. When the employee interacts with co-workers, the potential to uncover new ideas or solutions to business challenges is higher. It’s no wonder coaching programs have experienced such tremendous growth — it makes financial sense.

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Myth 3: Coaching is spiritual and we will talk about feelings all day, every day.

There are many great coaches that dive into and use the spiritual side of things including chanting and meditation. They may also use the body as a way to get in touch with your intuition as we often ignore physical signs of stress. But there is no need to worry if this isn’t your cup of tea. Coaches are practical, professional people who focus on the client receiving tangible results. Don’t get me wrong; they will use things that motivate you as a basis for the coaching engagement, but will always stay focused on your agenda and the goals you want to achieve. As much as I love 70s fashion, you can sleep safe knowing that you will not be asked to join the commune.

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Myth 4: Coaching is synonymous with therapy.

There is still a notion that a coaching session involves a couch and a box of tissues, letting you dive into all the painful parts of your past that you need to overcome. This is simply not true. Coaching is a powerful tool to help deepen your learning, focused on moving you forward and creating your future, not delving into your past. As mentioned in myth 3, don’t expect to be sitting in your feelings until the coach decides you’ve cried enough for one day. Coaching is a springboard to creating your best, most fulfilled life. Although therapists have their place and can be extremely helpful in the right situations, know that coaching is used to propel you forward by getting clear on what the reality is now, and how to navigate the journey toward your goals.

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Myth 5: Professional coaches can only help you reach business goals.

A good coach is someone who is an expert at helping others create positive change in their lives. As much as a coach may work with you on career goals, know that your life at home including milestones , priorities, and work-life balance always seep in and may need to be addressed throughout your coaching relationship.

As Harley Finkelstein, COO of Shopify said in a recent interview, “The benefits of an executive coach extend beyond the office. This past June, I became a father for the first time. Having a daughter has helped me reflect upon my priorities—and the need to find a better work-life balance. That’s hard when you’re in startup mode and working 80- or 90-hour weeks. I used to go home at 6:30 p.m. but was never really off the clock—constantly answering emails and calls from home. Now, I leave the office later but commit to being present once I’m home.” An effective coach works with the client to help them live a better, richer life – regardless of their type of goals.

I know there are many other myths, which I promise to explore at a later time. But I hope what I’ve discussed here today can shed some light on what coaching can truly do for you. No matter which way you approach it, coaching can be the spark you are looking for to catalyze significant change for you and your organization.

Curious about how coaching can work for you? Contact me for your complimentary, no-obligation session today!

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