Executive coaching can spark awareness and positive change through dialogue. It may not be the best solution to all corporate problems, however. When coachees don’t buy into the idea or allocate enough time to the effort, coaching may fail or do harm rather than good.

Executive coaching is the process of engaging in open dialogue to spark awareness and action that leads to positive change. Coaching is always a delicate intervention with far-reaching consequences for the coachees and their organizations.

Effective leadership coaching requires deep-rooted, top-notch coaching skills. And the outcomes of coaching relationships should always remain open to further scrutiny and independent professional analysis.

Clueless coaching can cause more harm than good. 

Leadership coaching is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and it is certainly not an easy way to address complex behavioral issues in essential staff. Sometimes it is a bad idea. In some cases, it can cause more harm than good.

The Coach Lacks Skills

In my leadership coaching books and blog posts, I have never made coaching out to be an exercise requiring highly specialized skills. Effective leadership coaches come from many walks of life, with a diverse range of backgrounds.

While leadership coaching is not rocket science, it does require some basic skills. The lack of these skills can derail the effort.

In this day and age of constant pressure and pursuit of instant results, many coaches cannot resist the temptation to treat symptoms instead of root causes. Some end up addressing mere symptoms because they lack the skills to uncover the causes.

Reckless approach to executive coaching can cause problems that reverberate throughout the organization, compromising its values, culture, and purpose.

The Coachee Does Not Commit to Change

One indispensable prerequisite of any coaching relationship is the willingness of the coachee to change. Mutual trust and shared objectives form the basis of an effective coaching relationship. If the coach fails to secure the buy-in of the party receiving the coaching, the coaching initiative will be a stillborn one.

The dialogue that is the centerpiece of coaching must be sincere to lead anywhere. No one is willing to coach a “hostage.”

The Coachee Wants a Coach as a Status Symbol

With its rise in popularity, executive coaching has turned from a stigma to a badge of honor among executives. Nowadays, it is fashionable to have a coach. Some executives inevitably see coaching as validation of their status within their organization.

The job of a coach is not to make the coachee feel good, however. Coaching and ego make poor bedfellows. To make the most of a coaching relationship, the executive benefiting from coaching should remove ego from the equation. Opening up to change is impossible while looking for validation and sticking to the old ways of handling things.

The Coachee Lacks Essential Skills

Sometimes, an organization may come to believe that a manager/employee needs leadership coaching to become a more effective and valuable asset. However, the potential coachee lacks basic skills. Such employees don’t need coaching. They need training.

Leadership coaching can’t help with knowledge, skills, and abilities. The good news in such cases is that providing on-the-job training is probably cheaper than leadership coaching. And in this specific instance, it will yield better results.

Leaders Don’t Have Time to Engage in Meaningful Dialogue

Coachees are often C-suite leaders who have much on their proverbial plates. Unless such leaders can set time aside for coaching, they shouldn’t hire a leadership coach.

Leadership coaching requires your time and buy-in.

The coaching relationship requires trust and openness. It takes time to build trust and achieve the level of psychological intimacy that makes meaningful dialogue possible.

Self-awareness and improvement are the results of reflection and experimentation. Someone under constant pressure, unable to get away from the daily grind, is in no shape to engage in such exercises.

The Coachee Wants to Keep the Coaching Relationship a Secret

Some executives may want to keep under wraps that they have a leadership coach for various reasons. A coach has to observe the coachee under diverse circumstances, such as while interacting with higher-ups and reports. Secrecy leaves no room for this approach, hamstringing the coach and sabotaging the coaching relationship.

Executive coaching is not a be-all-end-all solution to corporate problems. Some situations require business coaching. Others may call for simpler solutions, such as additional training.


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