It would be easy to say that everyone needs a coach. Why not? Everyone needs a mother. Come to think of it, everyone needs a toothbrush. But do you really need a coach?

In the early 1980’s, when business coaching was a babe in arms, the idea that you got a coach was greeted with suspicion. Those at the top of organisations made do with a mate from college days or a chat at the 19th hole but they rarely had what we would, today, call a coach. So further into the organisation, the idea was unlikely to catch on and was seen as a sign of weakness. After all, if you’re doing fine, why would you need someone to ‘fix’ you?

Most people didn’t know back then what coaches did. Tennis stars had coaches, not managers. Frequently, these coaches had been tennis players themselves. Even today, it’s only newsworthy when professional tennis players decide to ‘go it alone’.

In contrast to 30 years ago, having a coach at work is akin to getting the latest technological gizmo. I know of a group of very senior executives who decided to halt the march of coaches through their organisation. Discovering that some key managers had had a coach for the last 15 years, they had begun to wonder, as one Director put it, ‘who really is managing this company?’

So do you really need a coach?

Don’t consider getting a coach if:

  • You are thinking that there aren’t many perks so it seems a shame not to take up the offer of a couple of hours each month to talk about yourself.
  • You’ve seen pictures of Hollywood stars with the heads of Chihuahuas protruding from handbags and clearly anyone who is anyone has one. As it’s the same with coaches, it seems like a good idea to get one.
  • You think that a coach might solve your marital problems, golf swing, crooked teeth (See a relate counsellor, a golfing instructor and a dentist – preferably in that order)
  • You are depressed (see a doctor)
  • You are not sure if you are really introverted or simply bruised by all those singing auditions your mother made you attend (see your mother).

Here are a few good reasons to get a coach:

  • The challenges and opportunities you have in front of you over the coming 12 months are greater than you’ve faced before
  • You have never led a team of people nor had to manage so much resource before
  • You are at a crossroads in your career
  • You do not understand why you keep getting passed over for promotion
  • You are unsure how your personality and ways of working affect your leadership and your results.