The Three Biggest Misconceptions About Coaching

The Three Biggest Misconceptions About Coaching

  • Posted by Stephen White
  • On June 1, 2017
  • coaching misconceptions, cost of hiring a coach, mistaken impressions of coaching


When I meet someone for the first time and they ask me about my Leadership Coaching practice there are invariably three major misconceptions they express:

  1. Coaching is the exclusive preserve of senior executives;
  2. Coaching is expensive;
  3. Coaching entails a substantive, long-term commitment by the person being coached.  This reinforces their perceptions around numbers 1 & 2 above.

Why the Misconceptions:

I suppose much of the blame for these erroneous assumptions lies with coaches like me for not doing a better job explaining to our clients and educating them on the value and benefits of Coaching.  Here is my cut on these issues.

Coaching:  It’s Not Just for Senior Managers:

First, coaching is no longer the preserve of executives and senior managers.  Yes, I am sure there are many coaches and organizations that employ coaches whose focus is geared towards senior executives and those in substantive leadership roles.  However, there are many coaches who do not orient our practice exclusively to those in positions of authority.

There are many reasons why someone who isn’t in a senior leadership role might hire a Leadership Coach.  These could include any or all of the following:

  • Having a neutral, third-party to brainstorm ideas with;
  • Having someone with whom to strategize about career choices or options;
  • Having someone who can challenge existing assumptions and beliefs;
  • Having someone who can hold you accountable for making changes.

It Depends on Your Definition of “Expensive”:

Second, prospective clients often feel that coaching is expensive.  Certainly, a person’s definition of “expensive” may vary from one individual to another.  Indeed, there are some coaches, particularly those in large companies or with well-established practices, who charge hundreds of dollars per hour.  Truthfully, they are the exception rather than the rule.

A recent study done by the International Coaching Federation showed that the typical Management/Executive coach charged an average of $231 U.S.  Speaking personally, my rates are considerably less than that.  I offer packages to individual clients that provide 3 to 5 hours of coaching and that are probably less than most people pay to get their car serviced.

I would venture that most coaches embark upon a coaching career not for financial gain but because of a strong desire to share and impart our expertise and knowledge.  Coaches enjoy watching their clients grow and develop more than watching their stock portfolio flourish.  While everyone has to earn a living getting rich quick isn’t what motivates most of us.

It Doesn’t Have to be Long-Term:

Finally, there is this perception that coaching entails a long-term commitment that often lasts years.  While I imagine there are some coaches who sustain long-term arrangements most coaches, myself included, don’t expect to be coaching the same clients years from now.  For me, the essence of coaching is about helping my clients move ahead in their lives, not creating co-dependency.  Personally, I believe my role as coach requires me to help my clients gain greater insight, inner strength and independence.  If I create a relationship whereby my clients feel compelled to contact me regarding every important decision or event in their lives then I have failed miserably.

In truth, most active coaching relationships usually last several weeks to several months.  Coaching doesn’t necessarily occur every week or even every month.  My clients pay for what they need and what they use.  I also don’t watch the clock and charge by the minute just because a coaching session goes ten or fifteen minutes longer than scheduled.


For those considering hiring a coach I would first suggest having an open and frank dialogue about what is and is not involved in being coached.  Coaches are not a panacea for everything wrong in one’s life.  By the same token harbouring fears and unfounded reservations based on incorrect stereotypes shouldn’t prevent you from obtaining the support you might actually need to move to the next stage in your life or career.

Clarifying expectations



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