Leadership Coaching: The 7 Biggest Mistakes Leaders Make

Leadership coaching engagement with an executive coach helps clients clearly define their goals, explore mindset and assumptions in their everyday life and work, change behaviors, and strengthen leadership skills, emotional intelligence, and performance. 

Executive coaches are not consultants — they do not deliver answers and solutions for someone. They do not tell you what to do.  Coaches empower people to communicate, lead, and make their own decisions — to examine their own mindset, values, and goals, and make changes as THEY see fit.

Leadership Coaching: The 7 Biggest Mistakes Leaders Make

To get the most out of a leadership coaching engagement, the individual being coached needs to avoid these seven mistakes:


1. Not knowing what you want to work on

Think about what you want to improve. Where do you want to focus? Communication skills? Emotional intelligence? Strategic thinking? Delegation? Saying you want to get “better” generically doesn’t mean anything. It’s important to consider and identify what you want to get better at SPECIFICALLY.


2. Not making time on your calendar to do the work

If you do not carve out time on your calendar, you’ll never get around to doing the thinking and the work required to get the most from a leadership coaching engagement. Many experts say, “Don’t tell me what you think is important to work on, let me look at your calendar.” For better or worse, your calendar reveals what is truly important, what you really spend time working on. So commit to the time needed and block it out. 


3. Not being eager to receive feedback

Are you ready to be challenged? Are you ready to hear honest (and expert) feedback about your strengths and weaknesses? Your underlying assumptions? If you want to improve your communications skills, for example, you need to understand the gaps in your performance. That means feedback — frank and straightforward. If you have a thin skin, you need to be ready to toughen it up.


4. Not having anything at stake

Why are you bothering to do this? “To improve my strategic thinking skills” is a start (see above). But WHY do you want to improve your strategic thinking skills? It is critical to have a deeper purpose.  For example, ”It’s important to me because I want to lead and help our company’s next generation of leaders,” or, “I want to be a COO,” or “I want to help re-energize our corporate culture.”


5. Not being open to reflection and change

Ego, self-importance, the need to always be right, an underlying belief that your way is always the best way… Sometimes people are simply not truly open to other points of view and alternative ways of looking at things. Executive coaching almost always involves assessment, reflection, and changing behaviors to achieve a goal. So if someone says that they want to improve their communication skills but aren’t willing to work through the process and reflect on their underlying assumptions, actions, and conduct, they are wasting their time.


6. Not choosing the right coach for YOU

Do not choose your executive coach for the wrong reasons. A coaching firm with a flashy website, an appearance on a high-profile cable show, or a client list of “celebrities” are not good reasons to select a coach. What matters? First, an executive coach should be highly qualified and capable — for example, certification with the International Coaching Federation.  Second, “fit” is vital. Coaches are people too, and they all have their own style and approach. Some people value a direct, in-your-face, coaching approach. Others prefer a gentler touch. 


7. Paying too much!

Don’t pay too much for the executive coaching experience. A lot of coaching revenue is generated based on the superficial “benefits” of a celebrity client list or a high-powered brand name. There’s no reason to pay $100,000 for a 6-month leadership coaching engagement.


Need Leadership Coaching?

Steer clear of these pitfalls and you’ll be poised to have a terrific executive coaching experience! To learn more about how executive coaching can help you build your leadership skills and improve your performance, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.