How to select a coach without help from Yelp
It’s Not Getting Any Easier
Leadership is complex, difficult, often confusing and usually exhausting. This has been documented and discussed for the past three decades, and continues unabated.
Simultaneously, we continue to expand our expectations of leaders. Each year brings another set of best-sellers that adds a layer of knowledge, perspective, behavior and skill to the accumulation of previous years. There is an unconscious enlargement of the expectations of people in leadership roles.
Like adding a new suit to a wardrobe, without culling, our leadership “closets” get full very fast. Leadership workshop don’t begin with, “Today we are learning leadership behaviors which replace the ones you learned in Workshop 12A-6.”
As a result, we are continually raising the bar on leadership behavior. We can no longer take cover in the stereotypes of our professions; we can’t say, “Of course he’s difficult to get along with, he’s a Finance guy.” Everyone is expected to be interpersonally effective and technically savvy, visionary, customer focused, etc.
For humankind, who relies on leadership for most of its progress, this is a good thing. For individuals, it increases the degree of challenge.
A Wild West Marketplace
People in leadership positions require a variety of types of support if they are to succeed in those positions, in their organizations, and in their careers. This is contrary to the lingering messages of western culture that we should be able to “go it alone.”
Executive coaching can be a critical input to success. Credible research into the results delivered through competent, principled coaching consistently show ROI of 500% and more. Often coaching clients report dramatic improvement in their effectiveness, relationships, optimism, and self regard.
However, a highly effective coaching relationship remains elusive for many. There is no standardized matchmaking process. While there are abundant schools of thought and gurus, books and journals, there is no regulating central body. As such, it remains a bit of a wild-west marketplace.
Simultaneously, the past few years has seen the rise of coaching certification programs, that for a few thousand dollars and in a few months are providing credentials to freshly minted coaches. As a result, some see coaching as a commodity service, with fees dropping significantly as the quality drops. That price pressure has caused some experienced coaches to leave the field, further reducing the overall quality.
Attempts are made to differentiate coaching and coaches, many of which, to an experienced eye, are more fluff than substance. The decision making process for most buyers is often based on snap judgment, sales pitches, political safety, unrelated credentials, and seductive marketing materials.