Three Reasons Why Executives Won’t Coach Marshall Goldsmith Coaching

A common complaint from direct reports is that their bosses do not provide sufficient coaching. There are valid reasons for this considering how expensive a leader’s time is and how time-strapped they are to meet business objectives. However, what most reports don’t realize is that there are workarounds to this issue that bring success and growth to both parties.

Today, let’s draw attention to three reasons that cause leaders to hesitate to coach – and actionable solutions for each.

Reason #1: Executives don’t assume knowledge workers need coaching

According to Peter Drucker, a knowledge worker is “someone who knows more about what they are doing than their boss does.” Many executives are surprised that their direct reports still want to be coached by them assuming that reports have more expertise. At the same time, few direct reports expect detailed instructions on how to do their job.

Solution: What direct reports need and are usually seeking out is ongoing communication with their executives about the “big picture” – how their work is making a difference to the organization. It is up to the leader to cast that “big picture” vision and coach employees towards that vision. You, as the leader’s coach, can point out the difference and show the leader that coaching in this way is not only appropriate but part of their responsibility.

Reason #2: Executives have busy schedules

Executives are very sensitive about how they spend their time. Their direct reports are usually as busy as they are. If coaching is seen as a complex and time-consuming process, it simply won’t happen.

Solution: Fortunately, direct reports mostly prefer regular check-ins over hour-long coaching sessions. They want to know if they are heading in the right direction. Frequency is often more important than the duration of the interaction. Scheduling a simple check-in process into a leader’s routine is almost always the solution.

Reason #3: Executives want to avoid negative feedback

Executives are aware that if high-performance employees are dissatisfied with their role and superior, they could easily leave the organization. To avoid pushing them away, executives avoid situations that could involve negative feedback, such as traditional coaching.

Solution: While successful people tend to resist negative feedback about their past behavior, they respond very well to positive suggestions for the future. In the concept of Feedfoward (which is practiced in Stakeholder Centered Coaching), direct reports are given 1-2 suggestions on how to improve moving forward instead of being forced to rehash the past.

In our next article, we will introduce six questions that should be used to run effective one-on-ones with direct reports. Used while coaching, this has produced consistently positive results for executives and their teams. Stay tun

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If you are going to work effectively in an organization, then you cannot avoid politics, you have to be political. It is through politics that you get things done.