Executive Coaching has been glorified to amplify performance, enhance business outcomes and reshape the thinking of executives for excellence. While all this is true, an HBR study revealed that Executive Coaching can have serious pitfalls as well. To quote the study, executive coaches can actually turn a bad situation into worse because of their inherent biases, providing straitjacketed solutions & by ignoring deeper psychological issues! 

The link to the entire HBR article is at the end of this piece. Subash CV – an MCC, Leadership & Executive Coach infer the following from this article. His reflections come from a deeper experience of coaching high-performing executives across industries (from India and Overseas)

Subash CV’s 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 Executive 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 an executive coach do?

  1. A coaching mindset – humility, training, helpfulness, selfless, life-long learner, ethics.
  2. Executive Coaching Certification, Training, 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

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

Regal Unlimited takes pride in having over 300+ trained, credentialed and experienced executive coaches. Subash CV himself is an Executive – Leadership Coach with over 5000 hours of coaching senior executives. 

Looking for an Executive Coaching Certification in India? Book your free discovery session here.

PS: Read the full HBR Article here. 

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