Coaching Challenge #1: Coaching the Uncoachable

Grumpy boy with business shirt and glasses, metaphorically a difficult executive

Buckle up, this topic deals with a particularly prickly challenge –coaching the uncoachable.

Let’s get to the point: The notion that some people are uncoachable goes against our grain.

We prefer to think that everyone can be coached –if we just know the right approach!

Now, it is true, there are some individuals that are very difficult to coach. Accepting that there may be a few folks who are really resistant to coaching may be in your best interests, but we think there are some people who seem resistant because they don’t believe there is any need to change. That’s not the same thing. Today we’re offering a few tips on what to do when you come across these people.

Individuals that seem to be uncoachable are found at many different levels within an organization, but you are more likely to find them at the top.

They typically have a lot of experience. They have made it to the top on their own. And they do things their way. So, often their thinking is: Why do I need to be coached?

The uncoachable often think the problems are with everyone else –not them.

But let’s be real.  Some people rise to the top because of their politics and charisma rather than their performance and competence. We’re not saying that they don’t make significant contributions to their organizations, but what matters is how they got the job done. Specifically, how they interact with and affected the rest of the team.

Because of their approach or style, they often end up creating a toxic environment.

If you haven’t run into an uncoachable yet, you will find that uncoachables at the top of an organization often exhibit greed, arrogance, reckless risk-taking, and other detrimental characteristics.

When it comes to coaching these uncoachables you need to flip the script. Rather than focus on their strengths it is more important to focus on what could potentially derail them and negatively impact their organization and their career.

Here are a few tips to coach an uncoachable.

  • Understand their motivations, goals, and personality and work with these, not against them.
  • Help them to see issues that could potentially derail their upward trajectory. This might involve gaining insight into why their approach has worked so far and then taking them through a long-term view to see how this approach could turn into a liability –for both them and their organization.
  • Help them to discover how they can remain authentic and add new approaches, ways of thinking, and tools to achieve their goals that won’t become a liability.

If you have an uncoachable challenge, you will find our Personal Groundwork for Coaching (PGFC) Program™ and the PGFC Workbook particularly helpful.

Learn advanced listening, questioning, and framing techniques designed to help with more challenging coaching situations.

Advanced skills will focus on helping coachees get to the root, expose blind spots and overcome resistance to change –especially with the uncoachable.

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