Interestingly, 18% of executives indicated coaches could challenge them more versus just 2% that feel coaches are too hard. The learning for coaches: When in doubt, err on the side of more challenge.
Organizations Definitely Want Coaches to Challenge More
At my coaching business, we collect countless “intake forms” each year from organizations requesting coaching from us. More often than not, we see statements such as:
* “Coach who needs to challenge him.”
* “Need a strong personality who can hold this leader accountable and really challenge her to tell things as they are.”
* “She is a really upfront person and is not patient for anyone subtle. Just cut through the chase and tell her.”
Our intake form offers a choice: Would the leader work better with a coach who is “relational and subtle” or “clear and direct?” I’ve only seen “relational and subtle” checked once—ever.
Perhaps organizations are hoping an external coach can deliver a hard message that they themselves have been unsuccessful—or perhaps unwilling or unable—to deliver to high-powered executives. In fact, our coaches who portray a strong, pervasive demeanor during HR interviews are often those put forward to meet the executive.
So, what do we take from all this?
* In the eyes of executives, coaches are generally doing a good job in the balance between clear/direct and subtle/relational.
* If anything, coaches should lean toward being more direct.
* Our corporate HR clients will often prefer a coach with greater directness.
* When in doubt, always ask your coached leader how they feel you are doing in this balance.