Beyond Coaching Psychobabble: Let the Buyer Beware (Manfred Kets de Vries, INSEAD Distinguished Clinical Professor of Leadership Development & Organisational Change)


The advertising pitches of many coaches raise false expectations and seem designed to fool the gullible‘, says the author. Interesting perspective, I may add!


Coaches Beware?! I am tempted to add. This post by the Prof is a timely reminder and a good opportunity for us (coaches) to step back and look at ourselves?

Hope our pitch is not intimidating, not making any false claim. Can’t help with some testimonials which are too good to be true. For that is the power of Coaching, pure and classical one, of course.

Coaching borrows from psychology, esp positive psychology. And also from other fields. We may not be experts in psychology, and that is our strength?

As coaches, many of us depend on two things – the client’s goal (‘Olympian heights’ or not) and clients journey/agenda. How ‘ready‘ the client is. A client who is ready and committed to the process will manifest magic. For the journey is not linear.

Agree with the points made on the tags. All these have no relevance when the first coaching conversation happens. Then it is obvious to the client. As we say in Hindi, ‘doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani’!

It is also the responsibility of the client to take time and invest in the effort to identify the right coach. All need coaching and almost all are coachable. But identifying the right coach is the key to getting the best results for the client. Just as we decide on a doctor or a teacher?

The Coaching process assumes the client is complete, has all the answers. Hence, non-prescriptive, co-creating and partnering approach to the engagement. And not prescriptive.

While the reader may be familiar with acronyms such as SMART goals,

CLEAR stands for Challenging, Legal, Environmentally Sound, Appropriate, Recorded

PURE stands for Positively Stated, Understood, Relevant, Ethical.

Are these not more relevant today in our organizations? Corporate, Government, not-for-profit?

Of course, Sir John Whitmore links all these to Life Goal. Ultimately that is what matters, Life Purpose.

A coach is one of the most trusted people in the client’s life, but not in an advisory role. An advisory means ‘having or consisting in the power to make recommendations but not to take action enforcing them.’ And that is not coaching. Trusted because of the space we create, based on trust, agreement, confidentiality that is built into the coaching process. A lot of clients have said ‘no one listens to them as we do’.

I personally maintain the ‘hero’ of the intervention is the coaching process. It is not the coach or his/her tags/labels. The mastery is a life-long journey for the coach.

Personally, I am blessed to witness the transformational shift in the client, in a way that works for the client, both in terms of the journey and the destination.

Prof Manfred Kets de Vries raises some important pointers for us to reflect and be mindful. As such helpful. Thanks, Prof.

Beyond Coaching Psychobabble: Let the Buyer Beware

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