It is interesting that some people resist the thought of working with a coach. What else could be going on in the mind of a leader – irrespective of their experience and seniority – that causes them to think that coaching may not be for them?
The reasons could be numerous and certainly age could be a factor.
A generation of outstanding leaders existed before coaching
To begin with, we need to be remind ourselves that in the days before leadership coaching became part of the personal and professional development toolkit (which isn’t that long ago), we have a generation of some outstanding leaders who have progressed to reach very senior levels without a single coaching conversation. And so perhaps the idea of coaching is being resisted on the basis that they’ve got to where they are without a coach so why would they need one now?
Baby Boomers focus less on developing soft skills
I wonder to what extent age plays a part? I can think of a few Baby Boomers out there who are likely to be the last of the ‘tough love’ types who might find it more challenging to be swayed by the world of ‘soft skills’ because they lead in a more ‘parental’ way and may place more value in the pull of work rather than taking time off the job to think about their skills, their impact, their EQ, their personal effectiveness and so on. Why would coaching appeal if they think there’s nothing left to learn? And yet we know this cannot be true because the human condition is complex and knowledge is infinite and there’s always something to learn about ourselves, our colleagues and the world of business if we are open to it. For some this is a lifelong pursuit, for others it is not.
Millennials are hardwired to learn
By contrast, we have Millennials who are the most educated generation in the workplace who seem hardwired to learn, to ask questions and are naturally more open and curious as a result. In my experience, they are also generally more comfortable about self-expression and self-improvement, especially one to one.
This leaves a small minority who are simply indifferent or deem coaching to be less important because of other priorities. Perhaps the ask has come along at the ‘wrong’ time or they just don’t get it. For those who are in this camp – from the very sceptical to the broadly accepting (and anything in between), this can be fertile ground to dig a bit deeper.
About the author
Karen Hayns is an Aziz Executive coach with over 10 years’ experience of coaching leaders in global businesses. She also has over 25 years’ experience in the retail and global outsourcing/offshoring sectors delivering business change programmes to international businesses.
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