Entrepreneurship Productivity

Debunking Coaching Myths

Evan Goodman
Written by Evan Goodman

The business coaching field has grown significantly over the last decade. Everyone can benefit from the right mentor, even CEOs of large companies. Even though many people swear by their business coaches, others remain confused. There are still a great deal of misnomers, misunderstandings and myths about how business coaches can actually benefit you and your enterprise.

Coaches tout their own advantages, but many of these messages are interpreted as simply being self-promoting. Due to the personal and confidential nature of coaching, leaders are not always able  or prepared to discuss what has taken place in their coaching sessions. As a result, it’s difficult for the business community to access reliable information about coaching.

When case studies, testimonials and statistical research debunk common coaching myths, sceptical leaders often shift their perspective and agree to give coaching a fair go. Those who do so are often pleasantly surprised.

I don’t need a coach

A common mindset causes leaders to believe they don’t need help. They feel their skills and knowledge are sufficient to do their jobs.

This kind of perspective represents the iceberg outlook where only a surface-oriented assessment is made. What lies below the surface is either unknown or ignored. If small business owners allow arrogance or ego to prevent themselves from self-growth they risk selling their business short.

Some small business owners are so inundated with day-to-day crises they don’t have time to really consider their business and evaluate what might be hiding beneath the waves. Alternatively, some leaders may spot threats looming in the distance but may postpone investigating these concerns indefinitely because they are too busy.

It’s not uncommon for leaders to want to see a positive outlook. They reason that they can manage their challenges and coaching won’t be of much benefit. Many leadership stories and case studies prove this to be incorrect.

Human behaviour experts generally agree our self-assessments are flawed because we see what we want to see. The best source of objective information about a leader’s abilities and tendencies comes from another set of eyes. This is where a trained business coach proves to be invaluable.

Business coaches have the skills to assess circumstances without the influence of personal or emotional ties. They are experienced and trained to diagnose issues by observation. Once leaders are aware of the state of their business, a good business coach will also help them address any issues that may have been identified.

The best leaders learn  there’s nothing wrong with having blind spots. Everyone does. The key is to identify and overcome them. More and more leaders credit their success to the added viewpoint of a qualified business coach. A good business coach won’t force you to do anything. Instead, they will help you to come up with your own solutions.

Being coached is too awkward

Some leaders believe the myth that having a coach is an admission of inadequacy. This is unfortunate for two reasons. First, there is nothing wrong with needing help. Everyone needs help from time to time and leadership doesn’t elevate a person to a royal level of perfection.

Being true to oneself is a key aspect to humility, openness and transparency.Traits that leadership experts describe as essential to effective management. Employees trust leaders who are humble, transparent and willing to learn. Leaders who pridefully separate themselves from their people are not trusted.

Secondly, the thrust of business coaching is not to expose grievous shortcomings in the leader. Effective coaching is designed to build on the skills a leader already has and maximise their potential. This involves addressing blind spots or areas that need improvement. Ultimately, the purpose of hiring a business coach is to become a better leader yourself.

Coaches inject new perspectives into your business. They will pose questions to you to help you understand what your clients and staff need and how to deliver it. Leaders are not torn down by their coaches.Rather, they are built up similar to how a  sports coach guides an athlete to be the best that they can be.

Some leaders reject vulnerability in the presence of a business coach because they don’t want to seem vulnerable or inadequate. Vik Kapoor does a great job of explaining this in Forbes. The myth is  the leader is inferior to the coach and must bear their soul to them, forcing the leader to deal with insecurities, weaknesses or failures.

Many business coaches are not psychologists. Their process does not include intensive analysis, nor do they dive into a client’s past, personal life or private matters.

The best leaders know that hard skills such as decision-making, analysis, delegating and control are certainly necessary for effective management.  They will also have learned  the most powerful leadership tools are softer skills such as transparency, humility, empathy, honesty and personal engagement. Leaders unfamiliar with soft skills may feel vulnerable with a business coach who emphasizes them as part of the coaching process. Great business-people  grasp these opportunities to learn and grow their skills in order to become even better leaders.

I can’t justify coaching

Some leaders believe the myth that business coaching is an unnecessary expense with little return on investment. Unfortunately, the current business culture seeks more short-term gains to justify expenditures. Part of this myth hinges on the belief that the benefits of business coaching are short term.

Many of today’s top leaders who have business coaches testify that they have gained better skills and mindsets from their coaching experiences. Their enhanced skillsets have long-term advantages that make them better leaders.

Misconceptions also lie in an underappreciation for what the leader will gain. Well-coached leaders don’t gain skills in only practices or procedures. They don’t acquire greater expertise in only leadership theory. Leaders benefit from coaching by developing better mindsets, perspectives and attitudes about leading. The benefits touch every aspect of what they do. They become more capable of tackling greater challenges with more effective results which makes for a more rewarding career.

A disproportionate focus on how the leader benefits rather than the organisation  also fuels this coaching myth. Gallup’s extensive research demonstrates how business benefits when the leader’s skills and awareness grow. Employees are more satisfied and engaged. Their productivity and work ethic rise. Efficiency and profitability also rise. Turnover and absenteeism drop. Customer satisfaction is boosted which  spells prosperity for everyone.

Businesses respond in significant ways when leaders enhance their capabilities through business coaching. The financial return of a well-coached leader can exceed the initial expense.

Don’t let myths prevent you and your leaders from becoming all they can be by having a business coach.


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About the author

Evan Goodman

Evan Goodman

Over the past 30 years, Evan Goodman | Business Coach has founded numerous ‘start-ups’, built them into successful businesses and gone on to sell them. He has experienced and overcome most of the common challenges faced by business owners and leaders and understands the pressure and stresses that running a business can cause.

He also recognises the value and importance of getting sound advice and support when faced by these common challenges and of being prepared to openly discuss issues with a coach or mentor.

Since building up his last business into a national company, and selling it in 2009, Evan focusses on coaching SME business owners on how to become business leaders. He has a Masters of Business Coaching degree UOW; creating a unique blend of experience, expertise and coaching best practice for his clients.

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