I have an executive coaching hammer, but not every problem is a nail!

Executive coaching can’t fix everything.  There, I’ve said it.

Even if executive coaching was a hammer, not every problem is a nail.

It’s an amazing tool for aligning leadership behaviour with organisational expectations.  It’s fantastic at helping managers understand what will motivate and inspire others.  In short, it’s a brilliant tool for helping individuals change themselves, and influencing change in others.

In light of some recent conversations, I think we need to be really clear on some of the things that coaching cannot achieve (well, not on it’s own anyway):

1. Executive coaching cannot fix a broken organisational culture

The lack of systemic coaching in an organisation is often regarded as a indicator of cultural issues.  In fact the phrase ‘coaching culture’ has almost become a shorthand for the type of workplace most aspire to.

To achieve this, many organisations’ approach is to enforce more coaching (usually through poorly trained and unenthusiastic line managers).  This is the equivalent of reducing car accidents by putting more cars on the road!

Coaching has a place in supporting the embedding of a new culture and that place is more likely to be in supporting executives to become positive role models, rather than forcing team leaders to transform their management style overnight!

2. Executive coaching cannot make other people behave differently

In coaching (and life), there are things we can control and things we can influence.  Coaching helps us identify which is which and deal with them accordingly.

What it definitely cannot do is give us control over those things which we have only influence.  Regrettably, those things over which we have only influence include other people!

The focus of coaching has to be ourselves.  How we react to others’ behaviour, how we can better understand others, how we can more effectively influence.  But lets be clear, it’s the coachee (and not the coach) that’s going to have to make these things happen!

3. Executive coaching won’t tell you how to do your job

Sorry, if you want one of those, you’re looking for a mentor.

But hang on, don’t just skip this section, because most people who THINK they want a mentor, actually get more from having a coach.  Why? Because mentors are there to tell you what THEY did and what worked for THEM.

That’s great, but you might have noticed that things move pretty fast these days, so how about becoming better at finding new ways to do things?  What about becoming more resilient and adaptable to change?  What about encouraging innovation in others?  THAT is where coaching CAN help.

We’d love to hear some of the things you’ve been told coaching can address.  Drop us a line and tell us all about them!

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