6 Signs of a Terrible CEO Coaching Program

11 min read
Feb 25, 2022

The CEO coaching market has really taken off in the past couple of years.  Yet, executive coaching isn’t anything new at all!

In fact, some of the world's most influential and successful CEOs of all time, including co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, have taken advantage of coaching to become better leaders and grow stronger businesses.

That being said... With so many coaching programs out there, how do you know which is right for you?

To help you get a better idea of what to look out for, we're sharing 6 signs that a CEO coaching program is terrible.  If you want to get the most out of your coaching experience, you should avoid programs that show these signs.

If you do end up following through with a program that exhibits one or more of these signs, you'll end up:

  1. Wasting money, time, and energy
  2. With even more of a mess on your plate
  3. Spinning your wheels but going nowhere

Bottom line: If you want to become a better CEO and grow the business of your dreams, then steer clear of coaching programs that exhibit one or more of these signs!


Steer Clear of CEO Coaching Programs That Show These Signs


​CEO coaching is perhaps the single-most straightforward method to become a stronger business leader, develop a business playbook, and ultimately set you and your business up for success.

In order to not let those benefits go to waste, be sure to steer clear of programs that exhibit one of these 6 signs.  Otherwise, not only will you not get the results you desire, but you’ll likely end up sliding backwards!


Here Is How CEOs Choose Their Coaches


1. Adding More Noise to Your Already Noisy Life


How many days per week do you intend to tackle a business problem but then never end up actually tackling it because, instead of fixing the issue, you spend the entire day trying to figure out what it’ll take to fix it?

If you're like most entrepreneurs, then that's an all too familiar experience…

The truth is that many business owners never end up tackling their issues because they have too much noise in their life.  Moreover, they're in a constant fog that makes it difficult to know which direction they need to head in and what they need to do to improve.

Not only is this one of the most debilitating problems that business owners face, but it's also a self-inflicted one!

Unfortunately, though, far too many coaches do the exact opposite of helping in this situation.  Instead of helping you gain clarity and clearing out the noise, they add even more noise to the equation.

Furthermore, instead of clearing your path, they fill it with more junk!  They tell you that if you just do X, Y,  Z and purchase this purple monkey that juggles, then your problems will go away.  Ultimately, your life only gets more chaotic.

If your first impression of a coaching program is that it'll only add more noise to your already noisy life, then run for the hills!


Great Executive Coaches Clear Out the Noise


What makes having clarity so important for business growth?

Simple... Businesses are created in order to manifest a vision.  Every CEO has a vision for a better world and they set out to manifest that vision through their business.  

What really makes a vision effective is it's clarity.  The clearer the vision, the more likely it'll manifest in reality.


Because, when you have a clear vision, you know which direction to head in.  More specifically, you're able to see the pathway that links where you are now to where you want to be in the future.

Thankfully, the best coaches are either current or former CEOs of successful businesses themselves.  Therefore, they not only understand the importance of clarity, but they help you clear the noise out of your life so that you can have clarity, too.


Clarity Is Essential for Business Growth


Instead of adding more noise to the equation, the best executive coaches clear it out of your way.

The way that they do that is by:

  1. Refining your vision to set a clear direction;
  2. Developing a growth strategy in order to manifest the vision; and
  3. Helping you set the right kinds of day-to-day goals.

Imagine that you're walking down the Yellow Brick Road to make it to Emerald City but the fog in front of you is so thick that you can't even see a few feet in front of you... Yeah, that's what living in a noisy world is like for business owners chasing their dream businesses!


2. Focusing on Secret Tactics Over Solid Methodologies


How many business books do you currently have sitting on your shelf?  Additionally, how many business podcasts do you listen to on a regular basis?

Now, seriously... Of those books and podcasts, how many of them have actually helped you become a better CEO in practice

The hard truth is that most CEOs have read all the books and listened to all the podcasts, but they almost never become better CEOs because of them!

The reason: Most resources for CEOs focus solely on tactics, but they never teach business owners how to apply the tactics.  

At the end of the day, you can know all the tactics in the world, but tactics mean absolutely nothing without application.

Just because you know of a tactic doesn't mean that you know how to apply it to your business life... Therefore, you can know all the CEO-related tactics in the world, but they won't do you any good without application.

Unfortunately, not only do most books and podcasts teach supposedly secret tactics without teaching application, but so do many CEO coaches!  So, you can go through an entire coaching program and learn great tactics but never know what to do with them.

Bottom line: Steer clear of CEO coaches who focus solely on tactics.  If you're serious about becoming a better CEO, then more tactics are probably the last thing you need.


Tactics Will Only Take You so Far


Have you ever asked yourself why the modern-day education system fails so many high-potential students these days?

While there is a lot of blame to go around, one of the key reasons why it's failing is because most institutions don't teach students what to do with their education.  They equip students with plenty of knowledge, but they never teach them what to do with it!

As a result, we live in a world with many well-educated people who have no idea what to do with all their knowledge.

The same can be said for many executive coaches... They teach their CEOs plenty of great CEO and business-related information, but they never teach them what to do with it.

When it comes down to it, knowledge, skills, and tactics mean nothing without knowing what to do with them.  If a supposedly high performance CEO coach tries to tell you that you need more tactics and education to become a better CEO, then they’re wrong.


Build Your Blueprint


Instead of focusing on tactics, the best coaches focus on methods.

Specifically, methods related to:

  1. Business development; and
  2. Leadership development.

Unlike tactics, methods empower you to take action.  Think of methods like blueprints for a house... They show you exactly what you need to do in order to manifest the house in reality.

Similarly, business and leadership blueprints give you an exact outline of what it'll take for you to become the kind of CEO you envision yourself of being.

The best coaches are methods-centric, not tactic-centric!


Here's What a Coach Can Do for a CEO


3. A One-Size-Fits-All Approach


No two senior executives are the same.  Therefore, there are no two CEOs on earth who have:

  1. The same leadership style; 
  2. The same learning style; or
  3. The same business and leadership goals.

Despite that hard fact, most CEO coaches have a one-size-fits-all approach.  By that, we mean that they dish out the exact same leadership advice in the exact same way to each of their mentees who have very different goals for themselves.

Sounds like an obvious problem, doesn't it?

At the end of the day, by following a one-size-fits-all approach, coaches morph their mentees into standardized robots.

Business owners don’t need to be coached into conformity… Rather, they need experienced individuals who will work one-on-one with them to draw out the factors that make them unique!

That being said, if a coaching program is forcing you into a box of conformity, then you'll basically become a standardized version of a chief executive.


You Are Your Best When You’re Doing You


CEOs start businesses because they see an issue with a way that the world is.  Then, they come up with never-before-seen solutions because they don't want to settle for the status quo.

So, being coached by a one-size-fits-all coaching approach completely undercuts the fact that CEOs are born out of non-conformity.  Literally, they become business owners because they want to be different, yet they often get coached into standardization!

The more a CEO leans into what makes them unique, the better they, their team members, and overall business become.

Only top CEO coaches hone in on the factors that make their students unique.  And, not only do they hone in on those factors, but they work to draw them out of their students as much as they possibly can.

The best coaches never force people into boxes.  Instead, they do the exact opposite by helping their students break out of the box even more than they already have!


4. Very Irregular Coaching Sessions


CEO coaching is about both programming and deprogramming.

In terms of programming, it's about instilling new thought patterns that serve you better as a CEO.

In terms of deprogramming, it's about eliminating old destructive thought patterns.

The key to successful programming and deprogramming is consistency.  If you're not consistently aware of the thoughts you think and work to change them, then you'll never achieve success.

Therefore, if your coaching sessions aren't regular enough to reinforce consistent habits, then all the effort you put in goes to waste!  This means that you should steer clear of coaches who don't meet with you on a consistent, regular basis.

Unless you're meeting very regularly, then it's hard to be consistent with changes.  And, if you're not consistent with changes, then you can't expect solid outcomes.


Irregularity Makes it Challenging to Build the Right Thought Patterns


The thoughts a CEO thinks are central to both the programming and deprogramming that they experience in coaching.

What makes thoughts so important?

The hard truth is that  business and life success comes down to the quality of the thoughts you think.  You can have all of your other ducks in a row, but if you're always thinking low-quality thoughts, then everything else goes to waste.

Here's why: The thoughts you think create the emotions you feel.  The emotions you feel determine the actions you take.  The actions you take determine your outcomes.

So, if you're always thinking low-quality thoughts, then you'll almost always get low-quality outcomes.  On the other hand, if you think high-quality thoughts, then you'll almost always get high-quality outcomes.

In addition to staying consistent with regular coaching sessions in order to reinforce the right thought patterns, the best coaches also reinforce the importance of thoughts on personal wellness.  They're looking out for you on both personal and professional levels.


Here's What a CEO Coach Shouldn't Do


5. Starting With ‘No’


How many times have you had an amazing business or leadership idea that you couldn't wait to share with somebody?  Then, when you did share the idea with somebody, they almost immediately hit you with a 'No' or 'No way, that'll ever work!'?

Sadly, if you're like most entrepreneurs then you've certainly been there before.

There are few worse feelings in the world than having an amazing idea or vision only to immediately have it shot down with a 'No' by a small-minded person. 

Believe it or not, but some CEO coaches are similarly small-minded!  Instead of supporting you with 'Yes', they hit you down with 'No'!

To put it simply: Great coaches start with 'Yes' while bad coaches start with 'No'.  Remember, just because somebody labels themself as a coach does not automatically mean that they aren't small-minded!


Great Coaches Start With ‘Yes’


Straight-up: Great coaches start with 'Yes'.  When you have a great idea, regardless of how challenging it might sound to manifest, they start with, 'Yes, let's talk about how to make it happen' instead of, 'No, I think that'll be too challenging'.

Then after leading with yes, they help you:

  1. Put the idea that you have onto paper and refine it
  2. Come up with a blueprint to outline the plan of attack
  3. Set realistic day-to-day goals to achieve the elements of the blueprint

The best coaches have the biggest imaginative capacities.  Regardless of how daring your idea sounds, they'll never shoot you down for it.


Great Coaches Show You That YOU Are the Way


Great coaches will always encourage you to look deeper inside of yourself for guidance!

See... Here's something that a lot of people get wrong about coaching: Many people believe that coaches have answers to all of your problems.  However, that simply isn't the case.

The real truth is that coaches don't have all the answers, but they do know that you probably have a lot of them!  Therefore, the best CEO coaches encourage their students to look inside of themselves for answers.

Think of it like this: A football coach can teach you plays, but they can't string you up like a puppet and run the plays for you during a game.  When game time comes around, you have to know what to do with the plays you've been taught!

Similarly, CEO coaches can't wave a magic wand to turn you into the business leader who you dream of becoming.  But, they can empower you with certain skills and knowledge to take action yourself!

Great coaches show you that YOU are the way to success.  Success is not outside of you, but within you.


6. Are They an Expert, or Are They Just Loud?


These days, almost anyone can pick up a phone and sound off online about whatever they want.  On some occasions, certain people garner a significant amount of attention not because they're preaching the truth, but simply because they're loud.

Sadly, executive coaches sometimes fall into that bucket of people who get a lot of attention solely for being loud!

So, how do you know whether or not a coach really knows what they're talking about, or if they’re simply loud and screaming nonsense for whatever reason?

There are a few key things to lookout for, including:

  1. If they advise based on direct experience; and
  2. If they build up or tear down.

First off, coaches who are loud but not experts have all the business and leadership advice in the world but no experience to back it up.  For example, they'll tell you how to manage a leadership team without ever having worked on a leadership team before!

On the other hand, coaches who are experts give business and leadership advice based on direct experience as a current or former CEO themselves.

Second, expert coaches will tell you the hard truths you need to hear without tearing you to pieces in the process.  Having stood in your exact shoes before, they understand the importance of getting the right advice while feeling supported in the process.

On the flip side, loud people usually tear down instead of build up.  In an effort to come across as people who know what they're talking about, they cause mental destruction!

The best CEO coaches are more than just loud... Rather, they're experts!  Always be on the lookout for coaches who are more than simply loud.


Look for These Signs In a CEO Coach


Final Thoughts on Signs of a Bad Executive Coaching Program


Remember, CEO coaching is perhaps the most straightforward method out there for you to empower yourself to become the kind of business leader that you know you're capable of becoming.

And, not just the leader that you’re capable of becoming, but the kind of leader that the world desperately needs right now.

However, not all executive coaches are created equal.  Therefore, be sure to pick the one who will not just take you and your business up to the next level, but will give you the tools that it takes to continuously keep climbing higher!

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