The 18 most annoying coaches you will hopefully never meet

There are so many bad coaches in the coaching field that you can get into this industry and easily compete – especially if you have the practical tools and market-focused methodologies that we give you at the Center for Executive Coaching.

Meanwhile, please don’t be one of the bad coaches – especially one of the coaches on the list of the 18 most annoying coaches that follows. Where constructive alternatives are not explicit in the description of that coach, they are provided as well. Enjoy the list, and please let me know any of these coaches that you have met as well as any omissions that should be added. Be sure to read until the end, where you will meet the worst coach I ever had….

One: The Coach Who Brings a Manila Folder Full of Dumb Assessments. This coach has a manila folder full of irrelevant assessments that every client has to fill out, regardless of what the client wants to work on. What kind of sandwich would you be, if you had to be a sandwich? You’ll find out with this coach.

ALTERNATIVE: Be efficient with your assessments. Use assessments to understand the root cause of the problem the client comes to you to solve. The Center for Executive Coaching shows you how to assess the client’s situation to give him or her the fastest and most effective path to results.

Two: The Coach Who Has Licensed a Best Selling Author’s Work. This coach has licensed a business expert’s best-selling book and now forces it down your throat. You work with him or her on the subject matter of a book they didn’t write, things with titles like: “23 Laws of Neuro-Psycho-Excellence” or the “7 Dysfunctions of the Cubicle Jockey,” or the “35 Habits of the Elite Strike Force Warrior.” But wait…Don’t people hire a coach to benefit from the coach’s own unique insights and perspectives? If we want to work on the content of a best-selling book, can’t we buy the book and apply it, or just sit down with our colleagues and discuss the book at lunch, or — budget permitting — get our HR department to hire the author directly?

ALTERNATIVE: Come up with your own frameworks. The Center for Executive Coaching shows you how to think on your own, so that you create your own intellectual property and stand out as an expert in your own right.

Three: The Pompous Storyteller Coach. Who doesn’t love to pay a coach hundreds of dollars an hour to listen to him tell war stories from his own career? Ditto the coach who comments on politics, current events, religion, and anything else not having to do with helping the client solve his or her most pressing issues.

ALTERNATIVE: Stories can be an effective way to help clients have insights, when used sparingly.

Four: The Checklist Coach. Have you asked me all of the coaching questions on your list yet? When you do, can we get to the topics I wanted to cover today?

ALTERNATIVE: Get comfortable going where the client takes you, based on his or her answers.

Five: The Scornful Coach. This is the coach who just can’t listen without seeming to judge the client, even if subtly. You can hear it in the voice tone. Plus, this coach keeps asking why the client did what he did, as if interrogating, instead of helping him move forward in positive ways. If you think you can do my job better than me, apply for it.

ALTERNATIVE: The coach has to learn to leave his or her judgments behind, unless the client is doing something that can harm himself or others, or is entering into unethical or illegal territory.

Six: The “My Life is a Mess So I Became a Coach To Work on That” Coach. I met a financial coach who had been in bankruptcy three times, and had a credit score right around the average of the US prison population. Would you hire him to help you be better at managing your money? I want a coach who has achieved some degree of excellence, not a coach who is a mess.

ALTERNATIVE: Get into coaching based on your strengths.

Seven: The Doubting Thomas Coach. This is the coach who doesn’t believe I can achieve my most inspiring goals. I’m pretty sure I am not delusional, and so I don’t need you to tell me that my goals are too ambitious. The voices in my head are doing a fine job of that already.

ALTERNATIVE: Stand for the possibilities and commitments of your clients.

Eight: The “You’re Amazing” Coach. Stop telling me that I am amazing every three minutes. I don’t need your cloying validation. I need to get unstuck and find ways to take action to achieve my goals.

ALTERNATIVE: Focus on the behaviors, attitudes, conversations, ways of being, and relationships that will help your clients achieve their goals. Celebrate and acknowledge results as they happen, and keep moving forward.

Nine: The Manic Depressive Coach. Last week you were up. This week you are down. Take your pills regularly and coach me when you are balanced.

Ten: The Insecure Coach. Please stop asking me how the session is going every minute. It is not going well. You are fired.

ALTERNATIVE: It is fine to check in with the client from time to time to make sure they are getting value. Do this at the end of every session, and schedule a review of the coaching engagement every couple of months.

Eleven: The Book Reviewer. I am not paying you to tell me which books to read. Amazon does that very well for a much lower hourly rate.

ALTERNATIVE: If you are going to recommend a book, bring a copy of the book — or a review of the book to save time — to the client as a gift. Clients are extremely busy and not all of them love to read, so don’t pick more than a couple of books during an engagement unless the client explicitly tells you that they love reading.

Twelve: The Jargon Coach. I am delighted that you know about the neurochemistry of co-created relationships via emotional high-stakes self-organizing. Now get out of my office.

ALTERNATIVE: Use plain language.

Thirteen: The Secret/Woo Woo Coach. Glad you loved The Secret. This is executive coaching. I have to report to my Board of Directors next week. Should I tell them that they don’t know the secret to attracting a good strategic plan from the universe?

ALTERNATIVE: Use methodologies that are proven, practical, and that will resonate with an executive and leadership audience.

Fourteen: Death By Open Ended Questions. We get it: To get your International Coach Federation designation you had to show an ICF-approved mentor coach that you could ask lots of open-ended questions. Now get into the real world. Show me that you can connect with me and that you understand my world. Give me an insight or two that shows me that you are more than an expensive waste of time.

ALTERNATIVE: It is important to explore issues with clients by asking open-ended questions. Be sure that you also can bring value to the table by offering your own observations and insights.

Fifteen: The “I Want to Learn Your Business on Your Dime” Coach. Stop trying to understand my business. I’ve been at it for 25 years. I hired you to help me relate better with my team and have more impact when I communicate. I didn’t hire you so that I could mentor you to take over for me after I retire.

Sixteen: The “I Just Took a Transformational Coaching Program and Now I Will Transform Your Life, Too” Coach. I appreciate that you had a transformational experience recently and that you got complete with your relationship with your father. But that doesn’t mean that you can suddenly turn into a transformational guru, and give me the same experience in a few hours of coaching. Stop telling me about ontology and start helping me get results for my business.

ALTERNATIVE: While you might get into what coaches call transformational approaches, focus less on your own transformational journey and more on the client’s goals, challenges, and ways of looking at their world. Avoid stilted transformational jargon.

Seventeen: The Super Pushy Coach. I fully understand what you would do if you were in my shoes. I get that you are impatient and could do my job better than me. Please stop pushing me. I have my own style, concerns, challenges, and doubts. Let me figure things out at my own pace, please, and find solutions that fit my style.

ALTERNATIVE: Let the client find solutions that work for them, for their style, and at their pace.

Eighteen: The Confidentiality Breaker. This is the worst coach of all. This coach was the classroom snitch in elementary school. He or she will blab everything you say back to your boss and damage your career. The first coach I ever had in a corporate setting violated my confidence by reporting one of our conversations to my boss, the CEO. She caused a lot of harm to our relationship. On the other hand, I thank her, because now I maintain client confidentiality in my work at all costs.

ALTERNATIVE: Before any engagement set strict, explicity rules about confidentiality and do not ever break those rules. Coaching requires a safe environment. Confidentiality makes the environment safe, and must be protected.

Again, please don’t be one of these annoying and ineffective coaches. Get the tools, methodologies, and approaches that get results in a market that demands nothing less, and that won’t tolerate fluff or incompetence. Join the Center for Executive Coaching today for the best practices in practical, results-driven coaching that is based on what the market expects and demands.


Andrew Neitlich, Founder and Director

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