Schedule Consultation
Executive Coaching

What are the Common Misconceptions of Executive Coaching?

by Melanie Espeland, Executive Coach of Espeland Enterprises

There are a few common misconceptions about executive coaching that can cause some to be hesitant to try it out.  (You may also have heard it be called: leadership development, executive leadership coaching, or business coaching.) Read more to learn about the myths and truths of executive coaching.

Misconception 1: Executive coaching is only for people who are struggling in their careers. 

Many believe that executive coaching is only for those who lack leadership, need career coaching, lack self-awareness, have blind spots, or who are struggling in the workplace.

The Truth: Executive coaching can help all different professionals.

In fact, many of the most successful executives, such as Jeff Bezos, have utilized coaches. Goldman Sachs is an organization that believes in it so much that they speak to their coaching commitment on their website.

They see the value in having an objective third party to help them sharpen their skills and reach their full potential.  Business leaders understand that a coaching engagement can improve their executive leadership, development plan, and even their entire organization.

Also, coaching can be helpful for individuals of multiple levels, from executives such as a vice president to managers to individual contributors. Your organization may also seek team leadership coaching to help a entire cohort work more effectively together.

Executive Coaching at Work

Misconception 2: Executive coaches or an executive coaching program are super expensive. 

Sometimes prospective clients believe that coaching services or coaching sessions are cost prohibitive.

The Truth: It’s a worthwhile investment.

Research and ROI

While it’s true that executive coaches do typically charge more than your average life coach, the return on investment is tremendous. Research estimates the ROI to be up to 49x!  Additionally, research from Harvard Business Review found that multiple stock portfolios composed of companies that “spend aggressively on employee development” each outperformed the S&P 500 by 17 to 35%.

A good coach will help you save time and money by helping you avoid costly mistakes, improve your decision-making skills, increase your productivity, harness your executive presence, and negotiate better compensation.

Diverse levers can be attributed to coaching ROI, with a typical engagement looking like the following:

Coaching Impacts

  • Improved relationships with direct reports, peers, and other stakeholders

  • Increased commitment to the organization

  • Increased job satisfaction

Bottom Line Impacts

  • Increased revenue

  • Increased productivity

  • Higher customer satisfaction

  • Reduced turnover

Executive coaching isn’t covered by insurance, but may be tax deductible in certain cases. Your employer may pay for executive coaching or reimburse you depending upon their policies and professional development budget.

I offer executive leadership coaching in the form of both packages as well as single coaching sessions to best meet your needs and target budget. Remember, that most coaching engagements may be cheaper than a luxury watch or five star vacation, but have lasting results.

Misconception 3: Executive Coaching will take too long.

Some business owners believe that executive coaching will take too long or that an executive coach will take a teammates’ time away from doing their work.

The Truth: Executive coaching services vary in length.

Top leaders know that most executive coaches work hard to ensure their leaders and direct reports have short-term and long-term wins as quickly as possible, while communicating expectations along the way. Research shows that a coaching engagement as short as 3 months can lead to goals reached. Some coaches, like myself, will offer training programs with unlimited access to coaching via email in between regular sessions.

Overall, leadership development will vary in length based upon your needs, learning pace, schedule, and availability. Some leaders work on executive coaching for a few months; while others commit to ongoing development with their executive coach and work together for multiple years. You can speak to an executive coach to understand what time frame may be the best fit for you and your needs.

Misconception 4: Anyone who has tips or advice to share can be an executive coach.

As an executive coach, I’ve been approached by some managers in my network who believe they can coach because they give great advice and have a proven track record of success as a leader or in their personal life.

The Truth: Simply calling yourself an executive coach does not make you one.

Professional executive coaching requires a deep knowledge base and there are very real dangers to working with an inexperienced coach. Executive coaches should have a formal degree or recognized coaching certification. This can include graduate degrees from universities with executive coaching specializations, or experience and training approved by a credentialing body such as the International Coaching Federation. The formal education and training of a professional executive coach ensures that coaches are well-versed in multiple coaching methodologies, have solid experience, and adhere to a strong code of ethics. Executive Coaching today is a highly skilled occupation staffed by passionate professionals who provide a confidential space.

I have multiple degrees and trainings that are utilized with my leaders. For example, I have an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BS from Cornell University. I have certifications in Life Coaching, NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), and soon Hypnosis. Additionally, my formal training in voice, speaking, and acting is utilized with many individuals seeking assistance with their public speaking and executive presence.

Coaching Colleagues

Misconception 5: Coaches must have the same background as the executive team.

Some believe that a coach cannot be helpful if they do have have the same exact functional and industry background as their clients.

The Truth: Diverse backgrounds can create leadership experts and strong coaches.

Executive coaching can be done by those with various backgrounds. If the coaching focuses on a niche or technical industry, such as cryptocurrency, then it can be helpful to have an executive coach with familiarity of your industry. However, in general, having diverse perspectives can improve problem solving and lead to better self awareness through the coaching process.

Additionally, some coaches with a global network or diverse network may be helpful to their clients who are completing a job search or career pivot. They may be able to speak to trends they are seeing across industries or connect leaders within their network.

If leaders in your organization are unsure, then you may choose to partner with an executive coach who has either successfully worked with individuals from your industry, or who has analogous past experience in the boardroom. My background brings experience from Fortune 500’s and management consulting to the table, which allows for easy working relationships with those in finance, consulting, tech, and more.

Misconception 6: Executive Coaching is the same as mentoring.

Effective leaders sometimes believe that if they have a leadership expert, mentor or sounding board, that they do not have a need for coaching.

The Truth: Executive Coaching is different from mentoring.

Mentoring and executive coaching are similar in that they both provide advice and answers to questions, but mentoring is usually informal and open-ended, while executive coaching has clearly defined goals, time limits, and mutual accountabilities. Coaches don’t give you answers or tell you what to do; they help you discover answers for yourself while nurturing a confidential relationship and identifying relevant psychological factors affecting your focus, necessary skills, and greater success.

Misconception 7: Executive Coaching is too much like therapy.

Potential clients sometimes think that they don’t need executive coaching since they already have a therapist or have previously had a psychological evaluation.

The Truth: Coaching is a different process and skill with faster results.

The coaching process focuses on professional guidance, continuous improvement, and building positive psychology. Your coach partners with you to co-create plans and build new capabilities, leading to great power on your team.

Coaching is action oriented with a focus on creating lasting change. If we increase resilience of managers and leaders, then they can reach success more readily in their career, even without their coach at their side. By actively challenging your thought processes and roadblocks such research backed tools and processes, leaders will learn quickly with their executive coach.

Misconception 8: Executive Coaching is about telling people what to do.

Sometimes business owners believe that executive coaching is about telling someone exactly what to do, and leaving no room for interpretation.

The Truth: Executive Coaching is about helping employees with self-discovery and developing their own leadership skills.

The Executive Coach will help their client discover the “answers” through a structured approach and training of new skills. Leaders will not only learn more about themselves, but also about how to problem solve effectively and into the future. They will build increased resilience that they can put to the test with and without their executive coach by their side.

Coaching will help leaders see their blind spots and develop new perspectives and tools, so that they can come to helpful conclusions in the safety of coaching space.

How to get started with executive coaching and building leadership skills.

Do you think that executive coaching services may be right for you or your organization? Are you ready for success in your organization?

You can find the right coach and become a better leader or provide regular sessions for your employees, team, leaders, and/or c suite quickly. Many executive coaches offer support through free consultations where you can receive feedback, a different perspective, and focus on what real next steps and types of coaching will make an impact.

How to work with Melanie Espeland.

You can work with me, the Executive Coach of Espeland Enterprises, by scheduling a consultation. Or, if you have an urgent issue, or don’t want to wait for a consultation, you can schedule a Power Hour.

Have Questions?

If you have any questions about executive coaching or leadership skills, email us at

Leave a Reply

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Consent to display content from - Youtube
Consent to display content from - Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from - Google
Consent to display content from - Spotify
Sound Cloud
Consent to display content from - Sound
Cart Overview