Can you coach? No, seriously. Can you coach?

If you were to ask a sample of managers how important coaching is to success in their role, what do you think their answer would be?

Coaching session from hell 0 02 33-26(1)I’ve worked with thousands of them over the years on Leadership and Management skills programmes, so I can state with some confidence that the answer is a little disappointing.  I would say that less than 20% of them see coaching as a core activity, and even fewer of them really get what coaching is.

After some discussion, in which I introduce the concept of using coaching as a vehicle for helping others to find answers to their own questions, we usually have a go at coaching.  I get people into triads, where one person coaches another, and one observes.

The two traps they fall into almost every time are:

  • Jumping in with the answer rather then letting the coachee find it
  • Asking closed questions to test the conclusion they have already come to.

When we debrief and I ask why this happens, the answer is predictable:  we do it this way because it gets us to a conclusion most quickly, and we are always short of time.

It does get you to a conclusion quickly if you do this.  Trouble is it fails to let the coachee grow, and leaves them reliant on the coach for answers.  Instead of coaching, the manager has been directing, leaving the coachee dependent on them, and no further developed than before.

I wonder what your experience of being coached has been?  I’ve had some good coaching and quite a lot of bad coaching over the years.  The video below  is a deliberate example of how not to do it.  As it is improvised it is based on my own real life experiences, which gives you a clue as to the quality of coaching that is out there.

Have a look at it to see how many errors you can spot.   Make a list of them if you like, and I’ll send you my list if you comment below.  And if you want to really spread the word and do your bit to address the woeful state of coaching skills on planet Earth, I’ll send you a link so you can download it and share with others.




About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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5 Responses to Can you coach? No, seriously. Can you coach?

  1. Dave Royal says:

    Coaching is so important in today’s business. Leadership is different than it was 40 years ago, even ten years ago. As the younger generation comes into the workforce there needs to be more of a coaching leadership style. I really enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


  2. Coaching v feedback. Most of us today struggle with giving timely feedback. Coaching feels like such a luxury.


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