Is a coach coachable?

August 16, 2006

Over at the Fast Company Michael Docherty is looking for a coach and he’s facing some challenges that are ringing bells for me because I’ve been thinking in the last few months that perhaps I need to work with a coach myself but I keep procrastinating – Is a coach coachable?

So it was with great apprehension that I’ve just undertaken my personal search for a ‘business coach’ to help me regain focus and take my own business to a higher level….Yet while I’ve faced a lot of challenges in my career (including some corporate business turnaround experience), this time has been different. I’ve personalized it, become so obsessed with it that I’ve become fearful of the inevitable failures along the way. I’ve let my perfectionism get the better of me and it’s slowed me down even more. So, that’s why I’m willing to give this business coaching thing a try. And besides, I’m the CEO, so if I’m not coachable, I still don’t have to fire myself (but maybe the coach will have a different opinion).

He then goes on to talk about the initial interviews he set up to find the right coach

First interview: a sympathetic ear, a clinical background and philosophy of purpose-driven life (vs. goal-driven life). All in all sounds like a good fit, reasonably coherent and practical. But $3600 for 3 months of weekly 45 minute phone calls?? Ouch.
Second interview: Here’s a walking example of ‘if you can’t do, coach’. Proud of the fact he’s getting coached right now, and he’s just back from a coaching conference. Ready to spew out all of the buzzwords and quick-fixes he just learned. Only $500/month, but no thanks.
Third interview: Scheduled a time, then moved it. Twice. Scolded me for by email for not confirming the final time (which I had). I re-sent my response. Sent me another note claiming to have found my original, but not acknowledging my re-sent note. Now hasn’t responded with the time. I haven’t heard the fees yet, but perhaps I can bartar for the help she needs in client management and time management. No thanks.

I know many people who have had a similar experience and many others who have had the same kind of experience when trying to find the right therapist. I think it becomes even more complicated if you are a therapist and a coach and you’re thinking of hiring someone to work with you. I know all the tricks, the jargon and have seen a lot of empty promises – I am not sure I’m coachable at all or if so I think I’d need a really special kind of coach – one that wouldn’t put up with my smart alecness 🙂 But seriously folks – are there coaches out there who are coachees? If so, how did you find the right coach for you:?

7 People reacted on this

  1. Annette, it strikes me that if your profession has any credibility atall, then there are few people who wouldn’t benefit from coaching. Just because you are a professional in the field shouldn’t mean that you are uncoachable. Perhaps you’ll be a more challenging coachee but you should still be able to find a mentor who challenges your perspective. Presumably you have your blind spots like everyone else. Maybe you should look for someone in a completely different field, who has business experience but not necessarily experience of your business.

  2. Good point Paige – and I am going to look around, possibly outside of Ireland as well…I’m a firm believer of practising what you preach…I did have a coach a few years ago and was a bit disappointed in what he had to offer but it was good learning at the same time!

  3. Finding a Great Coach

    Interesting thoughts from the Interactions blog and Fast Company blog about the trials and tribulations of finding a great coach. This is one reason I don’t promote my coaching services. It’s a relationship that is built from chemistry, so I

  4. I’m very impressed with the coaching phenomenom, and its acceptance worldwide as a personal and business aid. There is no doubt in my mind that we all have weakness, faults, blind spots and behaviours that can be modified and corrected if pointed out to us by someone we trust.
    I think coaching is a sound, valid and valuable concept.
    Often we want a coach to tell us the “truth”, provide tips and shortcuts, and to help us with our motivation and focus. A coach will allow us to dream and create goals, but also bring us back to reality by reminding us that we can only achieve our goals if we work at it.
    What I do find curious is why can’t we find coaches at our workplace or in our familiy and friends? At what point did our workplace or family become unsupportive, unmotivating, and an environment where truth is a limited or extinct commodity?
    Fnding a coach is easy, but finding the right coach will take time and effort.
    My only advice is to clearly understand what you are seeking in a coach. What are your reasons for seeking a coach? What do you expect then to change when you work with them?
    Once you have your reasons and goals clearly before you, then it’s time to go out on the interviews and make the connections.

  5. Hi Lee – thanks for your comment. I think the reason those we know are sometimes unsuitable to coach is because they rarely tell us the truth! We gather friends around us because they fit with the story we want to tell about ourselves. I think increasingly we’re seeing coaching being integrated into work environments which is great. Essentially it’s about negotiating sound boundaries that are co-constructed and mutually respected. Maybe Mark Hollander has something to contribute to this discussion as well?

  6. Hi Annette. Great and provacative post. I have “coached coaches” in the past and found two core competencies important to success:
    1. Speaking to the coach from their own unique vantage point. I don’t put my people through “intake procedures” if I already know them. Why waste time with practice modalities when you can just cut to the chase? Chances are, the professional coach will get things done faster than the typical client. So what? You’re getting paid for results, not by the hour.
    2. Be willing to be challenged by your client a bit more than usual. It takes self confidence to go toe-to-toe with an expert (a fellow coach). But that’s why they hired you in the first place.
    While it may be true that physicians make for the worst patients, in my humble experience, coaches make for the best clients. Especially when you charge them full rate (smile).

  7. Thanks Mark – I think those points are really pertinent Like you, I’ve coached coaches and this disussion has really got me thinking about what I’d be like as a coachee … I think coaches make great clients because so often there is little in the way of support or reflective spaces for coaches to really integrate what they know and offer to themselves what they offer to others..

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