Why do we need coaching?

Many people have asked me about the phenomenal growth of coaching and why it is so in demand today. I believe that it is symbolic of the world we live in.

I remember sitting in Namibia more than 20 years ago and watching the local tribes getting together at the end of the day. They would sit in a circle around a barrel of Mohango Beer and while they sipped the beer they would tell each other the stories of the day. In doing so, they would listen to each other and offer insights from their own experiences.

The elders of the tribe played an important role as they had more life experience. They could offer suggestions and ask wise questions that would support people in coming up with answers for their problems.

The tribe also celebrated the successes of the day and shared in all the stories that made up their common experience.

Now in my particular neck of the woods, we don’t do too much of that. We are too busy running around from one appointment to the next and very seldom have time to sit down and have a meaningful conversation.

Enter Executive Coaching.

What better way to have a meaningful conversation than to pay somebody who is trained and is well equipped to listen, ask insightful questions, celebrate our successes and challenge us on our thinking. Welcome to the 21st century version of the tribal meeting.

The world today is very disconnected and we seldom have meaningful interactions. I often explain that for an executive in a large corporation there are not many people with whom to have a meaningful conversation.

My own experience was that you can’t talk to your peers because everyone is trying to keep up appearances or vying for a promotion. Showing vulnerability in any way is a sure way of being ridiculed.

You can’t talk to your boss because she is expecting you to hit your numbers and deliver what you promised to deliver. Any conversation outside of that is going to be tricky unless you have one of the few enlightened bosses around.

And you can’t really tell your staff that you’re feeling a bit unsure about the 3rd quarter target – because you’re on their backs to hit the target in the first place.

So where do we go with our insecurities. We could talk to husbands and wives but then even they have a vested interest. My wife may well understand that I’m struggling to perform at work, but in the back of her mind she is probably more concerned with how you are going to pay those private school fees and she may not be as understanding as I’d hope.

Not to make it all negative, there are also the triumphs and celebrations which are often so absent from the everyday business world.

Against that backdrop, it is not really surprising that Executive Coaching is growing in leaps and bounds. It represents the one Oasis in a desert of insincerity.

The danger is becoming dependent on your coach for your fix of sincerity. Which leaves me with the question I believe we all need to answer, which is: “How do we use an executive coach to build other meaningful relationships in our work life?”

Author: Dale Williams

Dale is based in Cape Town on the southern tip of Africa from where he maintains connections with people all over the world through his portfolio life.