Believe me, I’m not complaining. I love being an executive coach. But there a few times when it can be a frustrating profession. It doesn’t matter whether I’m coaching someone in Cincinnati or anywhere across America. The hardest job in executive coaching is working with someone who doesn’t want to be coached.
It doesn’t happen that often. That’s because most people want to be coached. They realize they have a unique opportunity to make themselves a more effective business person. A good coach helps improve strengths and minimize weaknesses. Great coaches lay out a path to improvement that almost always results in success.
Not everyone wants to be coached. This small minority presents my biggest challenge as an executive coach. They frustrate me because 95% of the people I coach reach their objectives. I love to help people. And these often become the 5% that don’t work out.
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s hard to make it work when they don’t want to be coached. Maybe they don’t see where they are part of the problem. Or it could be they are resistant to opening up. Or perhaps they push back on anyone giving them objective observations and suggestions.
I can almost always tell if someone doesn’t want to be coached in the first meeting. Some are bitter and others act like they’re barely involved in the conversation. Once I know what I’m up against, I know what my mission is: get them to buy into the process.
It isn’t easy. I have to convince them that the coaching process is important, both to them personally and to their careers. And that change is needed. I have to get them to see how I’m on their side and willing to do whatever I can to help them.
It’s always interesting—and very satisfying—to see the light go on. That moment of realization that I’m there to help and I know how to do it. That’s the moment when we begin making progress toward the goals. It may take a couple meetings, but we usually get there.
My preference, of course, is to work with people who want to be coached. They’re the ones who will soak up good ideas like a sponge. In my 17 years as an executive coach I’ve learned that not everything in life is easy. And sometimes the most satisfying outcomes are the ones that take the most effort. So, whether you’re in Cincinnati or anywhere in America, please contact me if you need someone to do the hardest job in executive coaching. I take easier assignments, too, for that matter.