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HBR: The Very Real Dangers of Executive Coaching

HBR: The Very Real Dangers of Executive Coaching

HBR: The Very Real Dangers of Executive Coaching

My 2 cents…

  • Over the past 15 years, it has become more and more popular to hire coaches for promising executives: Not so much in this part of the world, APAC, including matured markets like Singapore, Malaysia,  or big markets like India, China and the Middle East. The opportunity for executives, leaders in these markets is to move up the learning curve, quickly and not repeating mistakes made by other markets. It is for promising executives, to help them move from ‘the current state to a more resourceful state’
  • Executive coaches who lack rigorous psychological training.. this may be a good news. I agree the coach needs a good understanding of psychology. Too much would actually convert into a bias. Moreover, problems (if any) that demand a rigorous psychological training is outside the purview of pure, classical coaching. They should be referred for counseling or therapy.
  • Davis taught him techniques for “managing the little people”—in the most Machiavellian sense: come on, this is not coaching. A coach does not teach! Little people? Coaching assumes every client is complete, hence no need for help/advice. Where is the question of Machiavellian lessons for a client from the coach? Psychology would have helped.

High probability a real coach would have used emotional intelligence/emotional quotient, in a partnering way, to co-create the future the client wanted. 

  • Bernstein’s immediate boss left the business, and he was tapped to fill the position: How come when he was clearly not ready?! ‘TINA’ factor? Then it is a larger problem, though very common.
  • Many executive coaches, especially those who draw their inspiration from sports, sell themselves as purveyors of simple answers and quick results: This is being too sweeping and totally off the mark. Coaching draws from sports, but only partly. It borrows also from psychology, management, leadership, philosophy, et al.
  • The Lure of Easy Answers…  I did not go beyond this, as it is going totally off the mark with coaching, pure & classical, the ICF way… what I am familiar with.

So, what does a coach do?

  1. A coaching mindset – humility, training, helpfulness, selfless, life-long learner, ethics.
  2. Training, certification, ICF/EMCC credential, experience, continued mentoring (supervision).
  3. Selection of the coach by the client, coachee and/or the sponsor organization.
  4. Identify clear goals – SMART, PURE, CLEAR (all abbreviations)

SMART: Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time phased

PURE: Positively stated, Understood, Relevant and Ethical

CLEAR: Challenging, Legal, Environmentally sound, Appropriate and Recorded

Coaching is about setting right goals, communicating effectively, and actions taken by coachee, between sessions. 

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