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?

5 thoughts on “Leadership: Friends as Coaches Don’t Mix

  • Kathryn,
    One underlying theory in leadership is that the leader’s behaviour is not 100% Transactional or Transformational – it is part of each. Thus, some mainstream leadership questionnaires (and there are many different types) instruct the respondent to allocate from a total 5 points per paired question part to Transformational and the remainder to Transactional (with 10 questions per scale and there must be a score in each scale, such as 2.5 and 2.5 or 4.5 and 0.5). In the model I presented the same rating scale format was used for the ten Strategic and the ten Managerial paired questions. The results allow for creating a graphic representation as was presented in this article.
    Hope this helps,

    Comment from: Strategic Outcomes

  • Very interesting article. Can you tell me how the Transactional vs Transformational and Managerial vs Strategic Leadership style rating system works please.

    Comment from: Kathryn Tilbrook

  • Michael,
    Typically a coaching relationship starts out with at least one meeting per week over 4-6 weeks (plus tele/email conversations) then tapers off to probably one per fortnight and in the final months (of a 4 to 6 month process) down to once per month. Notwithstanding, many tele-conversations may take place in between meetings. Needless to say, the coach should be accessible for face-time when the client is dealing with new challenges. In the final analysis, the client-coach relationship must be tailored to suit the clients needs – and they are all different! One must be careful the client does not become overly-reliant on the coach (that is of no help to the client at all) and the coach must not become revenue-reliant on the client!
    Hope this helps

    Comment from: Strategic Outcomes

  • How often would you recommend meeting with your coach?

    Comment from: MIchael Nelson

  • A business coach is the person you turn to for non-biased advice on business decisions, but they can also be a ‘friend/companion’ you can turn to for advice on virtually any topic that you might need a hand with. I’ve often been involved in coaching business owners in areas from emotional challenges to family matters! Not your typical business coaching assignment, but a good business coach can help you out in many areas and that’s our primary outcome; to help you succeed at whatever business venture you desire.


    Comment from: Tristan Miller

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