Please don’t call me for a coaching assignment and ask what business sectors I have coaching experience in. Seriously.
Whilst I will be able to say honestly that I have had the great pleasure of working in many industries and organisations over the last 16 years, it rather misses the point. Great executive coaching can be achieved regardless of the coach’s sector experience; in fact there is an argument to suggest that being ‘free’ of what you think you know about a particular sector may prove helpful to good coaching. But if you want someone to tell you or a colleague what to do, then you may be better off hiring a mentor who can share their experiences.
Sponsors of coaching often ask about these types of experiences because they want some reassurance that the coach ‘gets’ what the client is going through. Well, let’s assume no-one would be able to do that precisely, so we can drop it as an area of concern can’t we?
It might be more useful for you to know what type of areas of coaching I, or better still my clients, think I am more effective at helping with: For me that would be areas such as growing self-confidence; developing personal leadership style and driving team performance. I’m less experienced, for example, at specific assignments to do with career progression, although many of my clients have gone on to promotion as a result of their improved work performance but as a by-product of our working together. I’ve also done very little ‘life coaching’ specifically, although I am aware that much of the work I do has an impact of the ‘life’ of my clients.
Experience of a particular role is a bit different to sector experience. There is research suggesting that a coach’s ability may be limited by their own cognitive and social-emotional development (e.g. Bachkirova 2011, Laske, 2006) relative to that of their clients. Coaches who are less ‘developed’ in these areas than their clients, are likely to be relatively less effective than coaches who are more ‘developed’. This makes sense, as these coaches have greater degrees of flexibility in their thinking to access and also possess higher levels of emotional intelligence. My assumption here is that the more senior the client, the more developed along the cognitive and social-emotional scales they are … but I’ll leave you to decide the accuracy of that assumption.
My point is this that coaching is context- and person-specific; it promotes self-reliance, and fresh thinking whilst often getting into some quite ‘deep’ areas. It’s not about me telling you what to do. That’s your job. It’s not my place to share my experiences. It’s your job to design and dive into the positive experiences that can be available to you.
Dr Glenn Wallis is an experienced leadership and executive coach who relishes the opportunities to help people think differently and develop their uniqueness. You can contact him here if you would like to discuss your coaching and leadership needs.