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Misconceptions & Myths about Coaching!

1.    ‘Executive Coaching will increase expectations to the point where people are frustrated and leave us’

A.     This can happen if the contract with the organisation is not properly set out or if the coaching provider does not have a good code of ethics. Coaching needs to have a strategic context within Organisational L&D; support needs for aspiring individuals need to be understood by both your organisation & the coach.
All outcomes should be sustainable. An AMA coach makes sure that the ‘reality check’ (GROW Model) was properly reviewed by the coachee. We do know of bad coaches whose track records suggest high proportions of coachees leaving the organisation after coaching! This suggests an ‘agenda’ or ‘aspiration’  in the coach for ‘change’ that is wholly inappropriate. Buyer beware!

2.    ‘Executive Coaching is not proven to produce a return of investment’

A.    As early as 2001, Joy McGovern et al (Manchester Review) showed that the average payback from coaching was $100,000 or 5.7 times return on investment. It is interesting that 73% of coachees achieved goals ‘very effectively’ in their own view, but their organisations were more reserved than the participants themselves at 54%, although 85% of organisations admitted that results were ‘effectively’ delivered. There is ‘coaching’ and ‘coaching’. At its lowest professional level, coaching only produces intellectual processing in the coachee. At advanced levels, AMA coaches can produce deeper level processing characterised by deep concentration, mid-focussed pupils, shallow-breathing and a total absence of movement. These episodes can lead to cathartic learning and motivation.’

3.    ‘Executive Coaching can drag up emotional issues that lower productivity weeks after the coach has left.’

A.    It is possible that a coach, coming from a therapeutic bias, could focus on root causes in the coachee that are emotionally-based. While emotions are totally integrated with both motivation (and de-motivation) and therefore important, the coach ought to be able to recognize when a coachee is not pyschologically resourceful enough to be coached. In this case, the coach will normally go back to the organisation and seek advice about other, longer-term, emotional support. Coaching only really works in people who are already psychologically resourced and successful in some contexts of their life. AMA coaches test the resourcefulness of the coachee BEFORE focussing on targets and goals.

4.    ‘Executive Coaching is expensive and better done internally or not at all.’

A.    We provide 4 financial levels of coaching product with the most innovative bringing high-quality, professional coaches into SME-sized organisations (see AMA Coaches). Costs of 1-2-1 coaching can be reduced by proper management of resources, coaching 3 or 4 people in one day, for example, can reduce coaching costs by a half. The AMA e-mentoring scheme ‘Ask Max‘ brings coaching methodolgies into executive support from just £35/month net.

Internal coaches can be helpful (especially if outside the department and unrelated to formal HR activities) but high-performance coaching needs total trust and that is easier to provide with external resources.

People can self-coach, in fact Angus McLeod wrote the book, ‘Self-coaching Leadership’ as an example of how self-coaching can transform managers into leaders. However, people are not very good at challenging themselves intellectually or emotionally to levels of greatest change in perception and learning. People are also poor at recognizing their own patterns of behaviour (let alone their dated patterns of thinking) and so a coach can provide very significant added-value. That is, of course, if they are able to work at the highest levels of change. Be safe, come to AMA.

5.    ‘Executive Coaching may be popular with executives for several reasons but they don’t actually change do they.’

A.    Coaching must produce behavioural/performance change or you have not experienced coaching, just something called ‘coaching’ by someone else. We have used independent 360 feedback ‘before and after’ training in coaching-skills with senior managers in government, showing that the people around these managers notice and appreciate the positive changes in behaviour and performance (The Trainnig Journal, July 2010). We expect further research with AMA coaches to show equally convincing data. In setting out a coaching assignment, we recommend that you specify the behavioural and performance changes that you wish to see transformed. You should get buy-in from the executives too, of course. Executives should be allowed to self-opt for coaching, not be pushed! Our coaches will then coach to the behavioural/performance criteria that you all require.

6.    ‘Executive Coaching cannot work with executives who are set in their ways or reluctant.’

A.    This is true. However, a top-level coach will often be able to transform the distrust & resistance into trust and THEN work with the most ‘difficult’ people. Angus McLeod is sought out for exactly these types of very senior people (case study link) including ‘remediation coaching’. He does not invite the work of coaching to start until the coachee finds buy-in and this is typically like a ‘switch’ in the coaching dynamic between them. It is, as if a light had suddenly be shone into the head of the coachee and all is safe. The longest period of time this has taken with Angus is about 25 minutes. This is an area of speciality with only the most advanced coaches internationally and we would not normally recommend asking (or requiring) executives to enter coaching in these circumstances.

7.    ‘Master-classes are all very well, but watching an expert does not make a dfference to ordinary executives getting on with the job.’

A.    Master-classes from AMA are not just inspiring, they are designed to tease out the most impactful parts of the coaching and discuss how these can be easily applied by  manager/coaches at all levels of competence. Demonstrations like these do encourage the majority of executives to get smarter in these techniques, even if they cannot, yet, imagine reaching these professional standards of best-practice. See a sample, click the masterclasses link in the box (right).