Debunking the Myths about Executive Coaching

Getting the most from executive coaching

Jane Harders is an executive coach, coach-supervisor and Managing Consultant at Portfolio, a leading provider of executive coaching qualifications.

“Executive coaching has arrived.”– at least according to Sherpa Coaching’s 7th Annual Report* into executive coaching trends. 

As demand, credibility and the value placed on executive coaching continue to increase, it’s perhaps a good time to examine some of the myths surrounding executive coaching, and establish some best-practice principles to ensure you get the very most out of the investment.

Firstly, some of the Myths and Realities associated with executive coaching:

Myth #1 - Successful people don’t need coaches.

Reality: Changes to the competitive corporate environment demand that top performers adapt to achieve; those staying still will be overtaken. High-achievers and top performers stay at the top of their game via continuous review, refresh and repositioning.

Myth #2 - Executive coaching is really consulting under another name.

Reality:  The coach’s role is to use powerful questioning, targeted challenge and “clean” reflection to enable the coachee to examine fresh perspectives and identify their own solutions.  Unlike consulting, the coach avoids giving advice or recommending solutions.

Myth #3 - A coach must have a background and experience similar to my own.

Reality: Coaches work effectively across sectors, cultures and continents because of the non-advisory nature of coaching; bringing “baggage” from past experience in the role or sector can have distinct disadvantages, both contextually and in practice.

Myth #4 - Executive coaching assignments are open-ended and go on for years.

Reality: Executive coaching assignments – like all other coaching assignments – should have clear goals, timescales and measurable outcomes.  Typical arrangements are for a specified number of sessions, over a stated time period.  Open-ended arrangements, with regular sessions can develop dependency, a lack of challenge through over-familiarity, and it can be difficult to quantify individual and organisational benefits.

Myth#5 - Coaching is “woolly” and the results can’t be quantified.

Reality: Research shows than executive coaching can deliver a very high ROI (return on investment); effective set-up/ contracting is essential in achieving this.


Jane is an incredible coach at the very top of her profession. Amazing coaching experience which delivered beyond my wildest expectations.

CEO, Public Sector

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