Whether you are coaching someone, giving them advice when they are facing an important decision can be downright dangerous! With a relationship built on respect and trust, our coachees can be particularly vulnerable and open to our opinions. This puts a huge responsibility on our shoulders as coaches.
Here are some very realistic (and devastating) scenarios:
You’re coaching someone who is struggling with an important decision. He is torn between doing A (which would align with his values but result in missing a career opportunity), or B (which would not align with his values but would result in a wonderful career move).
You encourage action that conflicts with your coachee’s values (but aligns with yours). He takes your advice, and loses sleep as a result, for years.
You are coaching a woman who is asking herself “Should I put myself through a grueling selection process in an effort to be promoted, or should I not do that because I am not sure I can deal well with (the possible) rejection at this point in my life.”
You think that she is perfect for the job and would love to see her get it. Being ambitious and a risk taker yourself, you encourage her to go for it. She does, but ends up as number two, and has a nervous breakdown.
You are coaching a man who is the main source of financial support for his family. He is toying with the idea of pursuing his life dream: quitting his job and starting up his own company.
Having a family to support yourself, you think he is crazy to leave a secure and well-paying job for a high risk start-up, and you say so in milder terms. He takes your advice. Through time he develops a sort of numb, despondent style of resignation, disconnecting with the most important people in his life.
How DARE we!
Our coachees often put challenges on the table that require a decision that works for them. After all, they have to live with the consequences, and we don’t.
The best thing we can do as coaches is to facilitate deep reflection, helping our coachees to listen to their own hearts and fully understand the consequences of their decision.