No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Has coaching lost its mojo?


Best-selling author and coaching guru Marshall Goldsmith tells Mike Levy that leadership coaching has reached saturation point and how to find that illusive professional holy grail: 'job satisfaction'.

If you are a coach, Marshall Goldsmith has some bad news; there are just too many of you. California-based Goldsmith is, according to Business Week: "One of the most influential practitioners in the history of leadership development and an icon in the field of executive coaching". So when an icon tells you that coaches on leadership are too plentiful for their own good, perhaps we had better listen. Goldsmith has just published his new book called 'MOJO' (coming soon to a UK bookshop near you). It will be his 28th in fewer years and may do what his previous publications have done: become number one bestseller.

Coaching on its last legs?

So why the downer on leadership coaches, and what's with the MOJO? His view is that being a great coach is a rare accomplishment. It takes skill, vast experience and years of practice – so how come there are so many of them on the market? The answer is that there are too many leadership coaches who do not give their clients the best possible experience, says Goldsmith. 
Happiness may well be part of that experience. Goldsmith's latest book is how to bring that elusive quality into the workplace – for both leaders and the led. "This could not be a more timely objective," says Goldsmith. "People are now under so much pressure that work has become an increasingly important part of people's lives. In the past, 'formerly rich' countries such as the US and UK it was possible to work a 42-hour week and have lots of leisure time. For so many that is increasingly a rare option. It is not unusual now to find people working up to 60 or even 80 hours a week. But it is not the number of hours at work that counts, but whether time spent is meaningful. That is the challenge. Jobs that enable you to coast through the day are disappearing rapidly. But if you really love what you do, then it doesn’t matter about hours."
Goldsmith dismisses the arguments about work-life balance in all this. "If you love your work, then the work-life divide is meaningless. I work all the time and never resent a minute of it.” In his MOJO book, Goldsmith points to research which shows absolutely no correlation between the number of hours worked a week and perceptions of general happiness. His point is that you don't get happier by working fewer hours a week.

Work + work = happiness?

So how is happiness achieved in the workplace? "No one can find happiness for you – not even the best leader. Work that Goldsmith and his daughter have done on Meaning (M) and Happiness (H) can be thought of as a matrix. The worst-case scenario is, of course, a job that provides LM and LH. Many jobs provide HM and LH (perhaps that of a politician?) or LM and HH (a mundane job that seems pointless and yet a person is happy to do it because of the conditions, social and peer settings and so on). The ideal, of course is HH and HM but how is this achieved? Each person, says Goldsmith perceives meaning and happiness in a very subjective way. "I have flown 10 million air miles in the course of my work," says Goldsmith. "I have noted many times how two cabin crew people can react to their roles in totally different ways: one very happy and motivated, the other miserable and reluctant to give good service: same job, same uniform just different people."
How then to encourage everybody to gain HM and HH? "It is up to the leaders of an organisation to ask everyone there a very simple but direct question: 'what can you do to make your work more meaningful and to increase the joy and happiness you experience while you are here?'" Goldsmith illustrates his point with a scenario for you to absorb: suppose you have a 'boring' PowerPoint meeting to go to in an hour (hopefully not your own).
His theory is that if you had to evaluate yourself at the end of that hour in terms of 'how meaningful was that?' and 'how happy was I to be there?'- then your whole behaviour would be very different. "You might realise that the hour of your life has gone and have two personal choices: to be miserable about it or find some happiness and meaning in that hour." Goldsmith's point is that if on a scale of a low one to highest ten of H and M, then your  job is to make sure the experience comes in at a four or five. In other words, to find happiness and meaning in our work life, we have to work at it.

Mike Levy is a freelance journalist and copywriter with 20 years' experience. He is also a writing and presentations coach. He especially loves playwriting and creating resources for schools. Mike is director of Write Start. For more information go to:

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!