Patrick Donadio

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:50

6 myths of business coaching

As a business coach, I find many leaders have preconceived notions about the latest management concept sweeping businesses across the country — coaching. Whether you want to be a coach to your people or hire an outside coach, the following realities should help in the decision process.

Myth No. 1: Find a coach that has a similar personality to yours.

Reality: Coaching is about growth and commitment. Having someone of the same personality may limit your growth and development. Having a coach of a different personality style may offer a fresh perspective and force you to go outside your comfort zone to reach new potential.

Myth No. 2: You have the questions and your coach has the answers.

Reality: Not always true. Many of the answers are inside you and a good coach will help you discover them. A coach needs to be a good listener first. He or she needs to correctly identify areas of improvement and not always give advice or criticism.

Myth No. 3: Professional coaching focuses strictly on your professional life.

Reality: You can not totally separate your personal life from your work. A coach has to be ready to listen to any and all challenges. Coaching is about personal growth and development that can help people grow professionally.

Myth No. 4: Coaching is only for poor performing or trouble employees.

Reality: The best coaching clients are the ones who have potential and are not reaching it or employees who have reached a stumbling block or plateau. It is much better to introduce coaching too early rather than too late.

Myth No. 5: Men can’t coach women because women face work challenges only other women can understand.

Reality: Coaching is gender neutral. Sometimes coaches of the opposite sex can help people see issues from the other’s perspective.

Myth No. 6: You can’t change a person’s personality. Therefore, coaching is limited in how much it can help.

Reality: While you can’t necessarily change someone’s personality, coaching can give you a new awareness and new skills to help you change your behavior.

Patrick J. Donadio is a national business coach and professional speaker based in Columbus. He can be reached at 488-9164 or

Monday, 22 July 2002 09:48

Managers are out

Last year, one of my clients, a Fortune 500 company, asked me to help turn 10 of its mangers into coaches.

Why? Because a manager tells people what to do and how to do it, while a coach asks questions and helps employees learn how to problem-solve their way to success. My client understood that in today’s work environment, managing by control is not practical and does not lead to the continuous improvement of superior performance.

The key to superior performance is coaching your people.

Managing is still appropriate for certain issues such as dealing with discipline, adhering to polices and procedures or instructing on simple or structured tasks. As a business coach, however, I see the impact coaching has on people’s performance.

The transition from manager to coach is a mindset shift. Take, for instance, one of my client’s sales managers-turning-coach, Judy. She was having a difficult time dealing with John, an internal sales person, who was very aggressive and defensive.

In her coaching sessions with him, John would end up taking charge. A few weeks ago, in one of Judy’s coaching sessions with me, I explored this situation by asking her some questions. Questions, after all, are a coach’s best friend.

“What does John remind you of?” I asked.

“A grizzly bear,” Judy responded.

“What would you do if you were trying to deal with a grizzly bear?” I questioned.

“Give him food and run in the other direction,” she said.

After a few more minutes of questioning, Judy uncovered her plan. Whenever John would start to take control of the session — whenever the bear attacked — she would respond by acknowledging or thanking him for his input — throwing him food — and asking questions.

These tools helped her redirect the conversation back to the meeting agenda — run in the other direction — and the specific outcomes they wanted to achieve.

I spoke with Judy this week. Guess what? She just had her best session ever with John. By thinking of the grizzly bear metaphor, she was able to keep John on track and get the meeting done in record time.

Now what if I had managed Judy instead and told her what to do? Would she have had such a quick result? I doubt it. Judy told me she needed the metaphor she uncovered through our coaching session.

Not only did it help her stay focused, it actually made her session with John more fun. Compare that to her prior meetings where she was feeling anxious and uncomfortable with John’s controlling nature.

That’s the beauty of coaching. It can make a good employee better or help someone develop skills to increase performance — all on his or her own.

Patrick J. Donadio is a national business coach and professional speaker based in Columbus. He can be reached at 488-9164 or