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The Role of Opinions in Executive Coaching

Do the Opinions of a Coach Matter?


What is it about an opinion that sometimes triggers a type of allergic reaction when someone offers one? This isn’t to say that I do not appreciate the opinions of others. In fact, I built a whole career as a leader soliciting and welcoming opinions to achieve the best possible outcomes. There are a number of people whose opinions I cherish and seek out daily.


The Difference Between Solicited and Unsolicited Opinions


Perhaps it’s the difference between asking for an opinion and receiving unsolicited opinions that causes me to feel as I do. Plato’s words come to mind: “Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.” When it comes to unsolicited opinions, I know that I am more open to those who are further along the knowledge continuum. How can someone presume to give an opinion unless they have the context and knowledge to do so?

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The Danger of Opinions in Coaching


As an executive coach, opinions can be dangerous things. The overlaying of our personal experiences onto others in the form of opinions when we do not have the necessary context or knowledge can lead to poor outcomes. However, if used correctly, our opinions can unlock real potential for others. Turning an opinion or a hunch into a line of questions that seek to uncover the truth is part of the art of coaching. Our opinion counts for little except to steer us to a good outcome for the leaders that we coach.



Coaching, Mentoring, and Telling: A Continuum of Opinions


When we train leaders in the art of coaching their staff, we often observe a combination of coaching, mentoring, and telling activities taking place—a type of cocktail. If you think of these three in relation to a continuum of opinions ranging from zero (no opinion) to ten (only opinions), then coaching would be near zero, mentoring near five, and telling is a ten. These all have a time and place, of course, but coaching is coaching, mentoring is mentoring, and directing is directing.


The Intentional Use of Opinions


By being intentional about which approach to apply and when, you gain the ‘license’ to share your opinion or not. As a mentor with firsthand relevant experience, it is expected that you would share your views on subjects. As a leader guiding new staff, it is expected that your style will be more directive (opinionated) in the early induction phase. As a coach, it’s an expectation that you listen and use your opinions to ask good questions.


Speak to one of our team today to see how we can help you with executive coaching and more.

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