When executives are presented with an option of using the services of a coach, they say, well, I don't need one, I can think straight myself. Executives are mature personalities, often very charismatic and opinionated, so my question to you, Marcia, is, can you coach everybody? Are there some types who are uncoachable?
Your question is multiple. First, I wouldn't want to coach everybody. I have a very distinct client profile that I really like to coach. I like those tough executives, I'm well-known for being able to coach them. So, often the companies come to me when they've got someone they feel has a strong ego. That they think they can do for themselves just depends on the results they're getting, not on what they think they can do. If things are shifting and cultures are changing and results are dipping, then often they will agree and seek coaching. If the person comes to me and absolutely does not want a coach and is not willing to have a conversation – no, they are not coachable. There are levels of coachability. If they're just concerned and testing you, that's OK. But if they were told they had to have coaching and they don't want it, then that's not OK. Then I reflect it and say, OK clearly you don't want to be here, and you do not see value. Even if we were to define the goals that were valuable to you, you still don't want it, so I'm not going to waste your time, or your money and my time.
How would you, Marcia, refute this argument that coaching is yet another fashion trend or a way to rake in. What's the difference between a mentor, a consultant and a coach?
If you go to the ICF website and look under Research, there are quite a few industry documents. Coaching's been around long enough now, 25 years, and has been researched enough.
We recently heard the news that Prince Harry got a new job in a coaching firm.
Yes, I know, that's fabulous!
That's an interesting choice. Are you familiar with the platform of BetterUp?
BetterUp is primarily for personal coaching and a lot of companies buy it for not their highest level, but middle-managers and new managers. For one thing, if they want a lot of people to be coached but don't have the budget for me (laughs). So BetterUp offers some really good options for companies to bring coaching to the middle and frontline leaders, as well as for the people looking for personal coaching. So, I think it totally complements what the rest of us are doing and I love that he is out there saying how powerful coaching is. He's a great spokesperson for coaching.
I hope so, for his own sake. Because he's been through thick and thin recently. I hope he won't just be a PR face but that he will add some substance to coaching as well.
Have his own coach (laughs)!
Indeed! Marcia, could you bring one example of your work in a business organization. How would you support a leader? What does your process look like?
Again, you're stacking your questions! An example of what I do to support leaders is different from the overall process. So, which one do you want me to give you first?
Could you begin by telling how you work with a business organization?
I just want to say that's something I'm always listening in coaches that they don't stack questions, so that's why I responded to you that way. I just did some mentoring and the guy kept stacking questions. You're only going to answer the last one!
I have a typical process and if you look on my website called visioning.com and look under coaching you'll see it in writing. But to give you an idea, I first meet with the client. Usually, companies give their leaders a couple of coaches to interview and then they choose. So, when they choose me, we have an initial conversation about what they think their goals are. And then we meet with their boss, just to clarify, if there are any other goals that the manager might think would be good to change – they usually don't. Then I do a 360 live interview, where I interview direct reports, peers, and the leader again, in private. To get a sense of the person's leadership style, effectiveness, and what they would like to see the person do more of. I summarize that and then we compare it to the goals they have and then we maybe alter the goals before we really dive into coaching. So, we have a clear destination where we're going. Some days they will come to the call and say, yeah, I know we had the goals, but this has come up and I really want to focus on this. And that's OK. We don't review the goals each time. We only review the goals in maybe every 6 weeks. Usually, the coaching is 6 to 9 months.
But oftentimes with my leaders, getting back to an example, it's not about what they're doing, it's about how they see themselves as a leader. They will change their behaviour if they change their definition of leadership. By telling just to do things differently they will not do it. When I'm with especially strong egos, that are being bossy or not connecting with people, I'll ask them, how would you define leadership? How would the people who work with you define it? You know, where's the complex. Are you willing to expand your definition of leadership in order to connect with these people better? And that can take many sessions to look at who they really are.
Or sometimes they move up the ladder really fast but are not delegating. Like, OK, let's look at who are you as a leader and what are your responsibilities now? So, we look at definition, responsibility… and it's really about who the person is. And if you can expand that, they will change their behaviour on their own.
How old are your average leaders? Are they middle-aged, or younger people?
You know that's an interesting question. In my early years they tended to be a little bit older, at least in their forties or fifties, having reached that certain level… But I'm getting more and more younger leaders now who are being promoted quickly and really don't know how to handle the new position. So yes, they seem to have got younger, more in their thirties and forties these days. I think it's just the evolution of workplace and what people want from their leaders, which tends to be a little bit different from the old style. And that's my assumption, my observation. There are companies that struggle as a result of the pandemic and then there are those that do really well, because the pandemic has accelerated their business so much that they are overwhelmed, and they have to promote more people quickly. And I'm getting a lot of those. Everything from a liqueur company to a syringe company for the vaccinations to software companies – business is booming for them!
Are there any countries that don't really do coaching? You said in China it's very popular, in the US – very popular, you mentioned Russia. But are there still some white spots on the map?
I can't give you that specific answer since it's growing so much. It was slow to grow in Africa, but even now I'm getting more and more requests because my coaching schools are in Africa. I would say it's more about the fee they're able to pay. Like in India it's really growing but the fees are lower. In Asia, though, every country has embraced it. I'm thinking it's not that common in most South-American countries, but it probably has to do with their economy. If they're struggling, then they may not want to pay for coaching even though that's when they most need it.
How have more patriarchal societies, like Japan, embraced coaching?
OMG I'm mentoring senior coaches there now! They embraced coaching early on. They had one of the first coaching schools coaching international ICF chapters. They embraced coaching 20 years ago. More than that, actually. I spoke in Japan a long time ago, in 2001.
Being a woman coach among all these elderly Japanese managers wasn't tricky 20 years ago?
I did not coach them. I taught their coaches. But I have to say I'm mentoring senior coaches right now and there're quite a few women that are coaching male executives. So, I don't think that that has lasted as a problem. I think that's a stereotype. We're not managing them, we're coaching them and there is a difference.
But what if you encounter somebody like Donald Trump…
He's uncoachable. Coming back to your question about therapy, a clinical narcissist would be very difficult to coach. We have clear guidelines and the ICF has that as well, on what issues and what shows up in coaching that would be a therapy issue and we're not to touch it. Now, I have a Doctor's Degree in Psychology, so I know right away when something is not a coaching issue, or this is not a coaching situation. I've actually had clients seeing a therapist while they get coaching. I will say, there's something that sounds really embedded and I don't think we can dig it out with coaching, I think you might want to get some therapy on that. I've got a client who said, you're absolutely right, I am getting therapy on that.
How necessary is it to have a degree in psychology to do coaching?
It isn't. I got it for other reasons. But I have to say that's here in the US. Whereas in China it's a little different. In countries that don't honour therapy or going to a therapist, going to a coach is fine. Going to a therapist is not, because of the name. Then you get some people in coaching that are coming for things that are not coachable. That's a delicate situation when you face that. Even the students I've had, sometimes they come to coach training because they need therapy. They need something and I have to really monitor that and make sure that their needs are not getting in the way of what we're teaching.
How do you relax? How do you let it all go and rest your brain, Marcia?
My brain? I hike. I live near the mountains and I put on my hiking boots and go out to the desert.