Episode 140: The Coaching Cure, part 2: The Coachee

Even if somebody has all the certifications they still might not be very good - or they might be great. They might not have any certifications and they might be brilliant.
— Anne Libby
There are many men in particular who would not be caught dead reading a self-help book, but they would be happy to tell you that they’re meeting with their coach.
— Christine Whelan
Christine Whelan

Christine Whelan

This coaching has made me much more aware of my feelings and helped me stop just pushing aside my emotions, which I think many women are told to do at the office.
— Danielle Sauvé

This is the second of two shows on women and the coaching industry (listen to the first one here). This time we find out about one novice coachee's first experience of leadership coaching at work. We talk to management expert Anne Libby and coach trainer Terry Maltbia about why coaching has become so popular during the last several years, especially among women - and why anyone picking a coach should ask plenty of questions first. And we meet Christine Whelan, a professor of consumer science and an expert on the self-help industry.

You can also read a transcript of the show.

Further reading:

If you’re considering any area of self-help where you might spend a chunk of change, check out SeekSafely.org first.

Also, here are the International Coach Federation’s tips for choosing a coach.

Some stuff that didn’t make it into the show because I couldn’t neatly weave it into the narrative: If you live in the west and pay attention to these things, you may have noticed most coaches are white. Terry Maltbia at Columbia University (a coach trainer and an African-American man) told me that in his experience, the biggest group of coaches is made up of white women, next come white men, and then women of color (this is in the US). He thinks this is probably related to how coaching grew up in the first place, as part of what he called ‘the human potential movement’ - and it was people with some money behind them - usually white people - who could afford to a) think about human potential and b) take a chance on being a coach and/or pay for some training. He said it’s not much spoken of in the coaching industry, but the racial disparity is something he notices whenever he’s at industry events. He mentioned that on his training program at Columbia University Teachers College, most women of color who attend are coming from Latin America, and particularly from Brazil.

The other thing I wanted to get into is what can be the scammy underbelly of the coaching industry. As I said last time, coaching is unregulated and anyone can hang out a shingle as a coach. Lots of people are doing so. Many new coaches find it challenging to make a living at first. You don’t have to spend long online to see that endless numbers of people market themselves as coach marketers - in fact one of them hit me up on LinkedIn recently. They claim to be able to vastly increase a coach’s business. This kind of thing makes me incredibly wary (others I’ve spoken to have compared the coaching industry to a multi-level marketing scheme, noting some coaches’ websites are suspiciously similar). I’m already wary of the happy talk and ra-ra attitude that can be such a big part of the self-improvement industry. We should all maintain some cynicism as we search for and interview coaches.

Your thoughts are always welcome.