Is Your Team Worth the Investment in Coaching?

Is Your Team Worth the Investment in Coaching?
February 23, 2024 Jen Ryley

Can coaching solve most leadership problems? It’s a great question. To explore it, let’s turn to a unique analogy from Andrew Neitlich at the Center for Executive Coaching. He offers a great perspective on “coachability” with a story about an unusual coaching client, a vampire.



But first, what is coaching? Executive coaching involves a dynamic partnership between a coach and a client. This partnership aims to support individuals or teams to do things they have not yet achieved. Simply put, coaches help clients shift their behaviors towards more productive ones to achieve their goals.

A fundamental aspect of effective coaching is the readiness of the client (coachee) to embrace the work required to make change happen. Before embarking in a coaching relationship , it is essential to assess whether the person seeking assistance is genuinely coachable.

For a coach, a few key questions we explore usually include:

    • Is the client willing to take responsibility for themselves?
    • Does the client welcome or care about feedback?
    • Is there a compelling problem or is change a mere “nice-to-have”?
    • Does a good rapport exist between the coach and the client?
    • What motivates them to pursue change?

All of these questions help set the stage for a potential coaching engagement and determine “coachability”.


Vampire Coachee

Now let’s shift our focus back to our beloved vampire. Is he coachable? The answer, as you probably guessed, is a resounding “It Depends.” The true measure of his coachability lies in the vampire’s desire to change and the specific issue he wishes to address.

Imagine a town where the residents are determined to put an end to the vampire’s biting spree. However, if the vampire doesn’t share their enthusiasm for transformation, coaching efforts will be in “vein”. But this is where it gets interesting – perhaps the vampire has different aspirations. If he yearns to build friendships and connections, coaching might serve as the catalyst, assuming his motivation is strong enough to support some behavior modifications (like brushing his fangs and refraining from midnight snacks).

This analogy mirrors real-life scenarios where leaders seek coaches to address performance challenges. Often, the urgency of change is far more compelling for the leader than for the individual in question. Just like the townsfolk, the leader of the person to be coached might have a more significant “stake” in the outcome. However, the critical factor is whether the individual genuinely desires change and is willing to adapt their behavior. In essence, unless the vampire WANTS to stop biting, coaching will not be effective.

In cases where the client’s readiness for change is lacking, it presents an opportunity to explore alternatives. Perhaps the biting (or any undesirable behavior) doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the client (vampire), but it could eventually undermine his other goals or even professional survival. If the residents of the town decide to take decisive action, the pain of continuing to be a “biter” could significantly increase. Sometimes considering these future consequences and scenarios can be enlightening. “For the next 500 years, would you rather avoid pitchforks and garlic or sit down for a “pint” at the local blood bank with friends?” Positive motivation is great, but often, negative motivation based on a problem or pain is needed to initiate change.

In the end, if coaching the individual (our vampire) is not an option because he is not coachable, the other option is to coach the leader, or townsfolk, on how to manage through the situation for the best possible outcome for all involved.

Coaching can work wonders for those who genuinely seek transformation, regardless of their motivations. However, it often falls short when the coach or leader is more committed to change than the person being coached.

Are you curious to discover if you or someone on your team is coachable or what it takes to coach your teams? Reach out to us! Rest assured, we won’t bite or drain your energy dry!