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The Effectiveness of Good Coaching

Updated: Jul 17, 2023

The Three Biases Against Coaching

Nobody questions whether or not being coached is helpful for athletes. Some might not feel it is necessary to take coaching in business or leadership. Patrick Lencioni in his book The Advantage, writes of three biases against organizational health consulting, which we can also apply to coaching:

  • Sophistication Bias: "I have succeeded so far without coaching, and I manage people for a living. What do I have to learn that I don't already know how to teach?"

  • Adrenaline Bias: "I simply don't have time to slow down this train, there aren't enough hours in a week for me to get coaching."

  • Data Bias: "I don't need vitamins, I need an aspirin. How will I know in advance that coaching will lead to measurable results?”

The Three Signs of Good Coaching

I very reluctantly became a "coach." I have had my own biases, because I am allergic to anyone who gives off the impression of being a "professional expert," especially in matters of someone else's life. I only became a coach because I realized how much of own life has been shaped for the better by conversations with coaches both informal and professional.

A poor coach is one who pretends to be an expert in your life and in your area of expertise. A poor coach will talk too much, or not help you see the forest for the trees. A good coach simply holds up a mirror to your own - maybe implicit - values, goals and ideals. A good coach will help individuals reframe their values, hopes, fears, hang-ups, and ideals. A good will ask many questions, and help you reframe how you define success, and keep you accountable to yourself.

If you are stuck in the face of certain decisions, or you feel overwhelmed, does it have to be this way? Has it always been this way? If you are so overwhelmed that you do not feel you have time to slow down, a good coach can help you clarify what is the essential to focus on, versus what priorities could perhaps really wait. Reframing in this way can end up saving you time, by helping you to avoid rabbit holes, and dead ends streets.

I would hope, and expect, to be kind of coach who gives you an aspirin when you need an aspirin, and vitamins when you need vitamins. A good coach has a scope that is very punctual: i.e., pointed, targeted, action-oriented. It needs to be specifically clear what your takeaways are. Coaching is not psychotherapy, which is meant to be life-changing on a deeper level. It may not immediately cure you of today’s specific headache, but within a certain scope can produce results that are practical, fast, and relevant.

The Three Paradoxes of Coaching

There has never been a great athlete or artist who at some point did not have someone say to them, "Do you realize how good you are at this?" The first paradox here is that it seems to be impossible for us to get to know ourselves well, all by ourselves. And there is no shame in us not being able to see ourselves clearly without a mirror.

You likely already know to some extent your talents, ideals and values. I used to wonder why Major League Baseball teams have a "hitting instructor" - and why these instructors never tended to be the "great ones" of hitting. This coach's role is to help the players live within their full potential and maintain it, usually by reminding the professional athlete what he already knows, but cannot see for himself at the moment.

Adrenaline only takes us far. The essence of adrenaline is for short bursts of energy. Tenaciously going fast to get things done, without ever slowing down, often ends us up right where we started - or worse, burnt-out. The second paradox: in order to go fast, there needs to be time in our week to slow down, and self-assess.

The third paradox is that all new creative solutions to problems first begin with a question. “Why is it this way when it could be otherwise?” I feel this is where I can help you. If you are still unsure about whether or not my coaching will be worth your time and the fees I charge, please allow me one :30 opportunity, at my expense. I promise to make it worth your time.


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I'm Tim

I help organizational leaders make smart decisions and foster healthy cultures. I coach one-on-one and facilitate teams, striving for high morale, retention, success, and fast results.

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