There are many articles about what coaching is, and they are all detailed and convincing. But often, I see a lack of understanding from our clients and companies about what coaching can help with and how they can use it.

The more I coach clients and lecture coaching students, the more I’m convinced how effective coaching is when you know what to expect. Setting the right expectation in the coaching relationship is the responsibility of both the coach and the client.

If you are a leader that is planning to start coaching and are looking for where to start – these seven common misconceptions about coaching will help you lay the grounds for a successful and healthy coaching process from the beginning.

  1. Coaching will work for everyone! Fortunately, no! Although coaching is an extensive intervention, it won’t work for everyone and everything. As with any other intervention, there is no guarantee that coaching will work for everyone. Some people are not coachable, the same way some people will not benefit from therapy, personal training, etc. It could also be that it is just not the right time for you to be coached.

  2. Coaching delivers immediate results. Sometimes you can have results after only a couple of sessions, but coaching is a process, and it takes time to see the return on your investment. Often, coaches meet a client sometime after the coaching relationship is over and the client shares that what they worked on in the past now started to make sense. We don’t aim at a quick fix, but sustainable awareness and improvements.

  3. Coaching is the same as therapy. There are some similarities between coaching and therapy – both are talk interventions and aim at moving the client from one place to another in their life. Coaching is mainly focused on the present and the future, as opposed, to therapy where a lot of attention is on the past as well. The role of the therapist is often that of the healer, whereas the role of the coach is more of a catalyst and accountable buddy.

  4. Coaching will make you ‘happier’.  Feeling more content is not the direct goal of coaching in most cases – it is more like a side effect. When you start working on something that bothers you and you want to get better, you build and develop other skills. These skills and abilities support your confidence and give a boost to your awareness and wellbeing in general.

  5. The coach must know everything. Coaches are experts in coaching and not experts in every aspect of life or work. As coaches, we have a broad knowledge, but the beauty of coaching is that we don’t need to give any advice. Our role is to listen, ask questions, stimulate thinking, challenge, and provide feedback and observations. If you need someone that will give you the knowledge and share their experience, it is better to look for a mentor or a training course.

  6. Coaching is for senior management only. This is an old understanding that coaching is an investment mainly rational for senior management only. But, the more I work with companies, the more I see the need for coaching to be offered to a much broader audience in the organisation. Nowadays we see companies making coaching part of their culture, and professional coaching is offered from what we call high potential employees to the CEO level.

  7. You need a coach only if you have a problem. We tend to problematise a lot and sometimes look at a simple developmental issue as if it is a problem. There is no need to have a problem that needs fixing to benefit from coaching. You might have an interest in developing something new or getting better at something that you believe or have received feedback that needs some attention.

Bonus tip!

In coaching, you always need to have SMART and tangible goals. This misconception is coming from the desire of showing evidence that there is a visible return on the investment. It is always better to have metrics to measure against, and this will benefit both the coachee and the coach. Often, clients bring to sessions goals that are difficult and complex to measure. What matters for them is the space you hold for them, the awareness they get, moving at their pace and being there for them.


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