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You Cannot be Helped

Dear executives, you have to commit to leadership training


There are numerous blogs and columns about how to find a good executive coach — many of them thoughtful, many self-serving. I’d argue that, yes, the coach should’ve been thoroughly trained as a coach, but if you’re a CEO or senior executive, you should have a coach who has been in your shoes.

What you don’t see often, however, is instruction on how to be a good “coachee.” A poor coach can’t help anyone, but even a great coach can’t help some people.

Who are those folks?

Here’s how to be a poor coachee, make no progress and waste your company’s money:

  1. Don’t allow your coach to solicit feedback from your team about your strengths and weaknesses. Rather, just feed him your usual line of bullshit about your strong people skills. Admitting your real weaknesses is just a sign of failure. And for goodness’ sake, don’t tell your team you have a coach; that would be weak!
  2. Don’t do the work between coaching sessions. You’re busy, and self-improvement takes a back seat to daily urgent needs. You have a world to save, afterall.
  3. Look for a coach you can control. Dominance works on your kids and employees (at least the ones who don’t leave), right? You may as well stick with it!
  4. Don’t commit to changing. Yes, that’s the objective of coaching, but your situation is dramatically different from every other executive. Deflect criticism and project your problems onto your staff. If you commit to changing, your coach will hold you to it!
  5. Cancel or reschedule most meetings with your coach. He thinks it’s a partnership, but damn it, you’re paying the bill. When you do have a meeting, make sure your assistant interrupts frequently so everyone knows how important you are.
  6. Insist on a three-month engagement. Heaven and earth were created in seven days, so coaching shouldn’t take long.
  7. Demand the coach stop asking questions and tell you what to do (see No. 5). You like being told what to do, don’t you?
  8. Decide which coach to hire primarily on price. This is like buying gasoline.
  9. Don’t trust your coach. Keep your guard up. He seems to have your best interest at heart, but there must be more to it!
  10. Avoid the issue; don’t hire a coach. Tom Brady and Lindsey Vonn don’t have one, do they?
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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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