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Coaches Diary: Winning Over the Sceptic


This week Olivia Stefanino finds herself in the position of trying to win over a corporate client who is cynical about the benefits of coaching.

Sitting in front of me – in my new corporate client’s prestigious offices – was Michael, a seasoned sales manager.

Michael – in line with his colleagues – was undergoing one of my corporate team coaching & mentoring programmes, during which he would learn how to motivate his staff. Before undertaking such a course, each delegate attends a pre-programme coaching session – which is why I happened to be sitting with Michael last Wednesday morning.

While admitting to feeling somewhat cynical about the coaching process, Michael did agree to keep an open mind – recognising that some of his colleagues were getting better results from their sales teams than he was!

Michael told me that he worked hard, with 60-hour weeks being the norm. He confessed that having to find yet more time in his busy week to coach staff was making him feel anxious and stressed.

While I understood what Michael meant, I was able to reassure him – through first-hand experience – that by coaching his staff he would make them more effective, which would eventually enable him to reduce his own workload.

Noticing that he still looked sceptical, I asked Michael if he found that he spent most of his work “doing” rather than “coaching” others to do the “doing” for him. Nodding – and reddening at the same time – Michael admitted that he felt entirely responsible for whether or not the team reached its sales targets.

Rather than coaching the team to ensure that they all met their goals, Michael found himself regularly taking over some of the work that they were failing to do themselves. Michael’s argument was that it was quicker to do the work himself rather teach others how to do it.

Michael was quick to pick up that this was not an effective working model. I asked him to consider how his most effective colleagues ran their sales teams.

With a rueful grin, he admitted that they were much better at delegation – however, slightly on the defensive, Michael also pointed out that the others had better sales people in their teams than he did.

Michael acknowledged my raised left eyebrow with a wink – as it began to dawn on him that perhaps his colleagues’ success was due to their coaching style and that perhaps it was this coaching style that was responsible for their having the better sales people in their teams.

“So,” he paraphrased, “I guess you are saying that by coaching my staff, I will make them more effective and successful – which will ensure my team’s future success. “

“Exactly,” I replied. “And once you have an effective system in place, it really won’t take as long as you think. In fact, I bet you – that by using this new coaching model of management – you will find that in three month’s time, you will be working far fewer hours each week than you are now!”

Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach. For more information on Olivia's work and to download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power”, visit


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