3 common myths of coaching (and what’s true instead)

Coaching is a leadership superpower. Coaching saves you time. It helps you delegate. It improves performance, builds capability and helps tap into everyone’s creative process.

It’s also pretty good for organisational performance.  A comprehensive study  on the effects of an organisation adopting a ‘coaching culture’ showed some startling results.

Coaching led to:

  • A 10 to 20% increase in employee satisfaction
  • A 12% increase in customer satisfaction
  • A 50% improvement in employee communication, collaboration, conflict management, and coaching
  • Nearly three times the normal business impact on bottom line

However, there are some pervasive myths I commonly come across when I talk to leaders about coaching.

Myth 1: We coach primarily to help others.

Fact: There are tangible selfish reasons to coach your team members.  Adopting a coaching style of leadership empowers your team members to “step up”; you can delegate more and, as a result, have more time to spend on what you are supposed to do.

Myth Two: Coaching involves giving advice and teaching.

Fact: Yes, it may involve these things. But it’s also so much more than this.  It’s mainly active listening, good questioning, being fully present with the person you’re with. It’s letting go of the need to tell and give advice all the time.

Myth 3: Coaching requires a lot of time.

Fact: Coaching conversations can last just five minutes. A great hint that you have one of these ‘spot coaching moment’ opportunities is when someone knocks on your door and says, “Have you got a minute?” Or when they come to you with a problem they are grappling with. Instead of jumping in to tell them what to do, you can ask a simple coaching question like:

“What does success look like?”

“What are you thinking?”

Many leaders think they’ll lose their power if they take on a coaching role. But the irony is that you end up with more power as a coach than what you have as a manager.

It doesn’t have to be separate pre-planned sessions. You can bring coaching into conversations that you’re already having every day.

So give coaching a go and weave it into your leadership practice.  Here are some great questions you could consider to get you started:

  • What is currently getting in the way of X happening?
  • How do you get in your own way? How could you get past that?
  • If any actions are possible, what would they be?
  • What will you do?
  • How will you know?
  • In a best-case scenario, what would X look like? What is the outcome you most want?
  • What is the drive for you?
  • If you can’t achieve X, what will that be like?
  • What results do you anticipate?
  • What have you done so far?
  • What has gone wrong in similar situations in the past?
  • What are the possibilities?
  • What are the potential obstacles?
  • What options can you create?
  • Where do we go from here?
  • What would be your desired outcomes?
  • What effect does that have? (on you/ others/the organisation?)
  • What is the worst-case scenario?
  • Why is this important?
  • What is the likelihood of this not working?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What results do you anticipate?
  • What really matters to you (and/or others) about this?
  • What did you mean when you said…?
  • What other angles have you thought about?
  • Say a little more about that?
  • What led up to that?
  • What do you conclude from this?
  • What strikes you about what we have just discussed?
  • My understanding of what you said is….is that correct?
  • How would you describe that?
  • Can I just check my understanding…?


  1. Andy Peterson on May 2, 2023 at 3:47 pm

    The 3 myths are great reads although this list of coaching questions is gold! I found a few I’d like to incorporate. Thanks!

  2. L. Rushing on July 7, 2022 at 11:53 am

    Myth #1 for the win! I have been asked why I want to improve the performance, behavior, and opportunities for others. My answer has been that every chance I get to lift others is an extra vacation day for me! I know that my team members are capable of so much, and it is my job to help them get there, so we can all work better. We lead others so that one day they can move beyond where they are, even if that is past us. Thank you for your insight!

  3. TK on July 6, 2022 at 5:11 am

    Coaching is at the core of managing others. Amazing to me that most managers are not trained or do not learn how to coach versus being a scorekeeper, managing what is already in the past.

  4. Dennis Vogel on July 2, 2022 at 10:45 am

    Suzi, I’ve been writing about functional hope to help people go beyond intentions to implementations. Coaching helps people focus on how to add functionality instead of hoping things will happen. Your questions are functional in determining what works/will work plus finding interference causes & effects.
    It’s vital for building businesses with workers & giving customers reasons to stop hesitating. Prevent & solve problems now to end stress sooner. Reducing stress clears minds for more productivity which reduces stress more & helps with more productivity.

  5. Chris Gladstone on June 30, 2022 at 5:05 pm

    Thank you for your generosity and for sharing such helpful information. Much appreciated.

  6. Chris Gladstone on June 30, 2022 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you for your generosity and sharing such helpful information. Much appreciated.

  7. Cassandra Dore on June 30, 2022 at 8:37 am

    Great topic! Coaching is a great leadership strategy that I do not see used often enough. I agree, coaching is a great way to tap into everyone’s creative process and can increase productivity.

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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