Leadership: Friends as Coaches Don’t Mix

I recently lunched at the invite of a good friend to discuss his disappointment at being overlooked by the CEO (who held my friend in high regard) for a vacant executive position he had set his heart on. I took the opportunity to reiterate my earlier advice:

Get a coach for personal development and to enhance you career prospects!

I know his colleague had less breadth and depth of experience, but had a personal coach which, in my view, helped him present himself in a good light that influenced the CEO’s final decision.

The reason given to my friend for losing out: the other candidate was considered to have greater potential for strategic leadership in this tough economic environment.

I am sure the CEO had agonised over this hard decision.

Coming second in a two horse race is like coming last – it saps one’s confidence!

I have no doubt my friend’s time will come.

Why did I not proffer some personal coaching prior to the selection process?

Experience has taught me to never coach a friend – it’s a recipe for disaster.Things that need to be said cannot for fear of offending, or worse, undermining a long-standing friendship.

Try teaching a family member or friend to drive a vehicle. It ain’t easy!

Giving wise counsel to a friend is the best one can expect to achieve.

But, giving wise counsel is not coaching!

As for my friend’s leadership qualities, I invited him to complete a series of self-rated leadership instruments identifying his Transactional vs Transformational and Managerial vs Strategic Leadership style preferences.

Lo-behold, he rated himself higher on Transformational and Transactional Leadership ratings than on the Managerial and Strategic Leadership ratings. Something the CEO had probably sensed!

About a week later, my friend phoned: an executive search company had heard he was overlooked and asked if he was interested in an ‘executive opportunity’.

My friend did not commit himself, but was conflicted between his loyalty toward the current employer and the opportunity elsewhere.

What do I do, he asked?

Time for some wise counsel!

Get a personal coach, take a month to work through your career aspirations – then make a decision!

Wise counsel – or not?