Is Coaching Remedial?

How Coaching Contributes to a Growth Mindset

When you think of coaching, do you think of correcting mistakes? Fixing weaknesses?


I hope not. At least, I hope your view of coaching is not limited to remedial action.


I notice that many leaders have a reflexive response to the word coaching. Sometimes, when the topic of coaching comes up, a leader will say, “Do I need coaching?”


Upon further discussion, I learn that he or she harbors the thought that seeking coaching is an admission of a short-coming.


According to an article by Gretchen Gavett in the Harvard Business Review, “There is still some residual stigma that coaching is somehow ‘remedial,’ as opposed to something that enhances high performance, similar to how an elite athlete uses a coach.”


And yet, according to a study conducted by Stanford University and the Miles Group, 42.9% of CEO’s believe their conflict management skills need development. That’s just one area of leadership development.


Here’s how I see it.


Great coaching provides the tools, resources, and insights to help individuals improve and realize their full potential. I am a firm believer that those who have achieved a high level of mastery can still learn and grow.


“Yet, I am learning,” Michelangelo at age 87


I’ll take it one step further. Those I have met or read about who are true masters in some vital area are also humble in their acknowledgment that they are still learning and growing.


At the age of 87, the great Michelangelo is said to have inscribed the words “Ancora imparo,” or “Yet, I am learning” on one of his sketches.


Yes, sometimes we do need to correct the course of a supervisor, mid-level manager, and even the CEO.


I find it more effective and productive, though, to think in stages of leadership development. Naturally, these stages include developing foundational skills and remedial actions. From there, moving to the reinforcement of good habits and traits can evolve into coaching for aspirational levels of leadership. This last stage is what can take a leader and his or her organization from average to exceptional.


Where are you on your leadership journey? What inspires you to reach for the next level as a leader? The mind-shift from remedial to aspirational can open the door to doing your greatest work yet.