Executive coaching has become big business. After all, if athletes and singers need coaches, so do we. In fact, Price Waterhouse Coopers, in a 2008 study for the International Federation of Coaches, suggests that the worldwide market for executive coaches is approximately $1.5 Billion USD.
I recently read a great article on coaching in the New Yorker Magazine. It made me think differently about coaching.
Traditional coaching in sports or voice is different from what has been practiced in the business world. The coach has three functions: to prepare the participant before the event; to observe during the event and to debrief after the event. In the business world coaches often use steps one and three, but rarely are they present for the actual event.
And this, I think, it the failing of most executive coaching. It’s hard to debrief an event or situation when the only information that the coach has is the point of view of the person being coached. By our very nature, we have a tendency to see the world from a biased perspective. We even have a name for it “perceptual defense”, that is, we perceive a situation in order to defend our own self-image.
Perhaps it is time to change our model of coaching. If we’re really interested in improving our performance, then we need to be prepared to experience greater scrutiny. Which isn’t easy for most of us, including our leaders. One of the stickiest problem we face is the stubborn lack of productivity improvement in white-collar work. Perhaps better coaching might be part of the solution.
I’d love to hear about your coaching experiences, both coaching and being coached. How could the experience have been more effective?