More Myths around Executive Coaching

von Karsten Drath

What can I expect from working with an executive coach? Not many other professions have so many myths about them. In our last blog we have started to unravel some of these myths. Here are some more insights on this special type of professional service.

Coaches just Ask Questions.

Not true. Especially in the senior management domain just asking questions is not enough to move the needle. It is true that coaches are experts in posing thought-provoking questions which trigger reflections and allow executives to try out new perspectives. However, an executive coach will also always offer his own experience to the client when this is needed in order to progress and to help the client reach his goals.

Coaches Tell Managers what to Do. 

Not true. While the executive coach typically has both own leadership experience and the expertise for asking unconventional and mind-opening questions, the client also plays an expert role in this working coalition – namely for his environment, his stakeholders and his career as such. Therefore a management coach will offer his own experience where needed and appropriate in order to increase the options available to the client. However he or she will never tell a manager what to do. Furthermore, the responsibility and the ownership for any actions and decisions will always remain with the manager who is working with a coach.  

Coaches will Feed Confidential Information back to the Company.

Not at all. As said before in one of our earlier blogs, the confidentiality of everything which has been discussed between coach and client is key for the success of the coaching. At Leadership Choices we consider the ethics of a coaching relationship as crucial and respect this trusted relationship. The only information about a coaching process which is fed back to the organization is the overall topic of the coaching as given by the manager in the original coaching request plus the contracted coaching hours and the percentage of completion. Also for each coaching mandate client satisfaction is measured and reported.

Coaches are just like Shrinks.

Not really. Just as a counselor or a psychotherapist, a coach will have confidential conversations with you. The key difference lies in the topic of the conversations, the professional background of the coach and in the attitude of the coach towards the manager. Coaching is not about repairing something broken but it is about improving something which is already fairly good. Executive coaches are business-minded people with a significant amount of own leadership experience. They know how it feels to sit in the manager’s chair and they have gone through some tough training to become trained and certified as a coach. But the most important difference lies in the attitude. A coach will always focus on increasing the options for actions available to the client because a versatile and agile manager is more successful than a rigid manager on autopilot. So what is discussed in coaching often is very tangible, business-focused and action oriented. And there is no couch!

Karsten Drath works with top managers and their teams to improve their leadership effectiveness and resilience. He is a certified Executive Coach and Psychotherapist, a published author and keynote speaker, and is one of the Managing Partners of Leadership Choices, an international consultancy focusing on leadership development at Top Management level. Looking back on more than 15 years of own leadership experience in several international roles he knows the challenges that come with the executive lifestyle and also how to cope with them.