Coaching to Support Learning? Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes

Coaching Strategy ObstructionCoaching as a follow-up to a traditional one- or two-day leadership development program can greatly improve the transfer of learning. But to be successful, sponsoring executives need to avoid a couple of common mistakes that even the best-intentioned organizations can fall into. In a recent interview for The Ken Blanchard Companies Ignite newsletter, Master Certified Coach Patricia Overland’s identifies three of the biggest mistakes she sees executives make when implementing coaching to support learning.

Underestimating the amount of attention and follow-up that is required for people to apply what they have learned. Change is difficult under the best of circumstances. Research identifies that only a fraction of learning ever sticks without repetition, reminders, and reinforcement. Don’t underestimate the time required to make real change.

Underestimating the challenge leaders have in balancing their workload and engaging in their own learning and development. Time and competing priorities are the two big challenges. What usually happens is that well-meaning managers put their own personal development at the bottom of the list because it doesn’t feel central to the business of the organization. Coaching helps with that because it provides some structured time where people can slow down a bit and think about their leadership and how new behaviors can improve their effectiveness managing people and situations—it can help them address things early in the process.

Outsourcing responsibility for behavior change. According to Overland, to be successful, any leadership development initiative needs organization sponsors to support and push for a cultural environment that helps to sustain learning and change efforts. “Sometimes when we go into organizations, sponsors will want to offload everything to Blanchard. And while we are very, very good at what we do, that does not substitute for the impact a message from a senior leader will generate. One of the greatest ways to demonstrate the importance of any initiative is to have a senior leader check in on progress. That type of tactical approach makes a huge difference.”


As much as Overland would like to promise clients that they can just turn over the process to her and the Blanchard network of coaches, the reality is that senior leaders need to stay involved every step of the way. The good news is that the level of involvement required is no more than that required for any other successful leadership initiative.

You can learn more about Overland’s approach in the article, Considering Coaching to Support Learning? Be Sure to Avoid These Common Mistakes.  Also check out information about a free webinar Overland is conducting on August 6, Coaching in Today’s Organizations—Best Practices and Common Mistakes

3 thoughts on “Coaching to Support Learning? Avoid These 3 Common Mistakes

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