BY Nicky Denegri

DATE: 06 JUN 2013


I’ve recently rediscovered the genius humour of Dave Allen and Tommy Cooper. The internet is awash with their quotes, such as this one from TC (NB – Tommy Cooper voice mandatory when reading this – either out loud or in your head):

“It’s strange isn’t it? You stand in the middle of a library and go ‘aaaaaaagggghhhhh’ and everyone just stares at you. But you do the same thing on an aeroplane and everyone joins in.”

To an extent, I think the same is true when we’re talking to people about “management development” versus “coaching”. Most organisations are pretty comfortable with the reality that people need to develop all the time, that nobody joins the workforce fully formed. Nobody finds it too frightening anymore.  A few might stare at you when you’re talking about development, rather than scream and shout. And yet it’s a different story when it comes to coaching!

Whilst some people love having a coach - and even boast about it - there are others (like the Managing Partner of a professional services firm who said to me “Coaching?? I don’t need it. I don’t understand it. I don’t want it.”) who could really do with it but see it as a badge of shame. They think it’s a remedial activity, designed to “correct” them, and as such can’t or won’t speak about it, hiding their head in the sand at best, rubbishing it to other people at worst.

In fact, the opposite is true. Coaching is for people who are already doing well, who have the right attitude, and who say “I’m good. I’m going to get even better. I’m not too big to accept ‘help’ in getting there either.”

One of my favourite  coaching clients was someone who, at the peak of his career, decided the time was right for a change of direction.  He used the coaching sessions to explore what was really of interest to him; what his values were, and what he could imagine doing for the rest of his life and not simply enjoying but feeling passionate about. Reader – he’s now doing just that, and looking good on it.

I say “favourite” client as he was the embodiment of the high-flyer who realised the importance of reflection and planning in taking his next steps – and that he needed to talk his options through with someone else. He saw it as a sign of strength, rather than weakness, and considered coaching as one of a number of approaches to help him – just as he would apply a number of approaches when running his (extremely successful) business.

Russell (The Russmeister), our CEO, calls coaching “tough love”.  He’s right.  It’s not an easy thing to go through. You’re challenged by your coach. The mirror is held up to you. Sometimes you hate your coach for what they’re putting you through!  You might even hate yourself occasionally. Ultimately however it’s worth it. You get to a new space and place in your thinking and actions. And who can ask for better than that?


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about the author

Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.

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