Taking a horse to water

One thing I have learnt over the years is that ‘You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink‘.  What I mean by this is if a company engages with a business coach but isn’t willing to take the steps to changing their business, then, not surprisingly, nothing will change!

Some businesses want to outsource their problems or solutions to their problems, but when the solution lies with changing the behaviour of management it not as simple as passing the problem onto someone else.

So I occasionally ask a client “how many times do you want the same problem to keep occurring before you do something about it?” Sometimes people need to really be in pain before they are ready to change their behaviour. I have seen it several times where the client pays lip service (and money) to bring a coach or consultant in but doesn’t like what they have to say and blames the external advise for the ultimate failure of the project. As I have gotten more experience, I am more aware when a great sounding project is going to hit this resistance – then my first job becomes getting senior management to accept that change elsewhere in their organisation first starts with change in them. After all the old clichés of ‘leading by example’ and ‘being the change you want to see’ are so truer than ever.

The coaches role in this process is to help the client see with perspective and context, to help them focus and prioritise and to give them tools, templates and best practice to help them make decisions with confidence. They need to understand that if they don’t have the courage to take a different approach and do something different, then nothing will change.

At the end of the day I can bring 10+ years of experience of working with SME businesses to any client I work with, but if THEY are not ready to make the changes, then no matter how great I am, the coaching process won’t work and the best thing I can do is point this out and be there when they are ready to drink the water.

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