Welcome to our fifth post in a series about Executive Coaching called “What Coaching is Not”
Hiring an executive coach, either for yourself or on behalf of someone else, involves some level of risk and uncertainty.
Exercising due diligence is a must.
The possibility exists that coaching won’t work for various reasons. That can lead to disappointment and frustration for both client and coach.
Conflicts of Interest in the Coaching Industry?
The best research report on executive coaching I’ve found is from way back in 2009: Harvard Business Review’s “What Can Coaches Do for You?” Authors Diane Coutu and Carol Kauffman are both respected and highly credentialed professionals.
Coutu and Kauffman draw on the knowledge and experience of five coaching industry experts, along with survey results from successful coaches. Each expert weighed in on sub-topics including compatibility, selecting a coach, client dependency, cost, and results.
“…survey results also suggest that the industry is fraught with conflicts of interest, blurry lines between what is the province of coaches and what should be left to mental health professionals, and sketchy mechanisms for monitoring the effectiveness of a coaching engagement.”
What is the Biggest Risk in Seeking Executive Coaching Services?
In my opinion, it is failure to define and articulate a specific goal for coaching. If the client and coach fail to achieve the coaching agreement, either at the beginning of the relationship or in each specific coaching session, the odds of failure increase. Several sessions may be required to reveal the true underlying issue(s) that require coaching in the first place.
Other risks include:
- client willingness to change
- chemistry between coach and client
- strong commitment from the coach to retain and develop the ascending executive
Coutu and Kauffman’s research reviewed survey results from 140 respondents in various coaching disciplines.
132 said their coaching focus shifted to different topics from what the coach was originally hired to do. 8 of them stated that the sessions began with ‘business bias,’ and eventually shifted to other issues, such as work/life balance, purpose in life, or improving one’s leadership.
Potential conflicts of interest were cited:
- industry fragmentation
- ability to measure value
- financial incentives that perpetuate the relationship longer than necessary
- lack of a defined coaching methodology
- lack of training in psychology and mental health issues
Looking to Hire a Coach? Buyer Beware…
Before you or your company spend valuable resources on coaching, think about reasonable expectations for the relationship.
Make sure the coach and client:
- are emotionally compatible
- have a clear understanding of what’s expected
- secure assurances from the coach that results will be measurable, valuable, and permanent
Hiring an executive coach involves risk and involves the potential for conflicts, but when coach and client connect, the results can offer a powerful, transformative, game-changing experience in performance, awareness, and confidence.
Mark Daly specializes in remote executive coaching services – so you can level up your leadership anywhere, from Manhattan to Sacramento – and everywhere in between.