5 myths about business coaching – debunked!
What is a business coach? What do they do and do you really need one? What can they actually help with and are they worth shelling out for? While coaching is becoming increasingly recognised as a valuable tool to help businesses of all sizes to grow and succeed, there are still too many preconceived ideas and half-truths out there that, unhelpfully, muddy the waters. Let’s bust some of the myths around business coaching and provide some insight.
1. Business coaching is the commercial equivalent of counselling therapy
If you’ve ever had counselling or psychotherapy, you will know that a therapist won’t get involved in your decision making. Rather, they will help you explore the issues that you’re facing so you can gain a different perspective and clarity of mind, enabling you to come to your own decisions.
But a client isn’t a patient, and business coach is totally invested in helping you make your business a success, with lots of hands-on tools and suggestions on how this can be achieved. While the way your business works will reflect the choices that you make as an owner, some guided self-work may well be part of the overall programme, but the emphasis is always on the business.
“People need different support at different times. Sometimes people need a partner to lead them to the right choice in a situation. Sometimes they need an advisor who can give them clarity and perspective. And sometimes they need a mentor who has been there, done that, and can show them the way forward.” (Rob Da Costa, business coach and online educator)
2. You only need a business coach if your business is at risk of failing
It is undeniable that coaching can offer powerful tools to help business owners turn around their struggling commercial enterprises. But that’s only half the story. Worse still, if you believe that you have nothing to gain because your business is doing reasonably well, you may be missing out on valuable guidance that can help you turn your good company into a great company.
“Executive Coaches are everywhere these days. Companies hire them to shore up executives or, in some cases, to ship them out. Division heads hire them as change agents. Workers at all levels of the corporate ladder are enlisting coaches for guidance on how to improve their performance, boost their profits, and make better decisions about everything from personnel to strategy.” (TIME Business News).
Coaching can help businesses at all stages of growth. Whether you’re trying to make the leap from a small to a medium sized enterprise and don’t know how to scale up, or you have a strong yet stagnant operation, there are numerous ways that coaching can help your business become what you would like it to be.
3. A business coach is little more than a glorified cheerleader
Contrary to popular perception, a business coach doesn’t just stand on the sidelines and cheer, though every good coach will encourage you to celebrate each of your successes and will happily join in. No – the clue is in the name.
Think of yourself as an elite sportsman preparing to reach and stay at the top of your game, ready for the next challenge. It’s exhausting to continually maintain this level of preparedness and motivation without help, which is where a coach comes in. A business coach will have a roadmap to help you grow and improve your business towards specific goals, propelling you to achieve your best, holding you accountable for your progress and offering constructive feedback along the way.
A famous quote by John Russell, former Managing Director at Harley-Davidson Europe, said: “I never cease to be amazed at the power of the coaching process to draw out the skills or talent that was previously hidden within an individual, and which invariably finds a way to solve a problem previously thought unsolvable.” (John Russell, MD, Harley-Davidson Europe)
4. It is the role of the business coach to improve your business
Wrong! If you think that a business coach will simply tell you the answer to your problems or, better still, implement the necessary changes, you will be sorely disappointed. While these experts will provide you with the tools and resources to make your company more successful, it’s not their job to do the work for you. Transformation and change are at the heart of any business coaching programme, and this has to come from the business owner.
“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart,” the erstwhile Chairman of IBM, Thomas J Watson, is known to have said. This is not something you can, or should want to, delegate.
It means putting aside dedicated time to work on your business, in addition to working in your business. It means learning to do things on your own in order to create lasting and productive change in your business. And it means the more you put into the relationship with your coach, the more you will get out of it.
5. Business coaching is the short route to a quick fix solution
You may think that working with a business coach means asking all the questions and getting all the answers, but that would be a serious misconception of what actually happens. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your coach has the questions and you have the answers within you – working together will enable you to discover what they are!
Just like any other type of coaching, business coaching is a development process. Rather than being presented with a quick fix solution, there are real learning steps to be taken to achieve your objectives, and this takes time. A tennis coach can teach the correct body positioning, how to hold the racket and which muscles to use, but it is the player who will need to practise his game in order to reach his goals.
Business coaching is a holistic view at more than individual business functions – it considers the entire company and your executive role within it as the driver of change. Whether you have a young company that now needs more structure to survive, or an established business that needs to change its unhealthy habits and beliefs, there are no quick fixes. Business coaching works best when you are fully invested in the engagement and “use it as a time to set and achieve goals, create self-awareness, critically think, gain new perspectives, be supported, challenged, inspired, encouraged and ready to change and reach new levels.”
Whatever your business or your challenges as a leader, in order to change you need to accept what’s true today so you can stop the merry-go-round and spin it the other direction.