All Leadership Coaches Are Terrible!


“Most companies are in a constant battle to attract the best of the best, because leaders are unwilling to see the talent they already have – and to make it their business to provoke it.”– Misti Burmeister

At a Foundation dinner for the National Speakers Association, I met Dave – a fellow speaker and reporter. When I asked what he does for a living, he said, “I expose the terrible things companies do in and around Dallas.”

After sharing a few specific examples of telephone, gas and electric companies that have treated customers poorly, he added, “I get upwards of 30 e-mails a day with stories from people who have had terrible experiences.” Then he asked about my line of work.

“I teach leaders how to provoke measurable greatness in others,” I said, proudly.

“All leadership coaches are terrible!” he said. “Just awful.”

His honesty was both humorous and fascinating. “You think I’m terrible?” I asked, with a giant smile to let him know I wasn’t really offended.

“Well, I mean, just look around at how many terrible leaders there are. Clearly you leadership coaches aren’t doing your job!”

I couldn’t help but to burst out laughing. “Of course you think that way,” I told him. “You’re trained to look for what’s not working and then report on it. Why would you notice the leaders who are leading well, or the coaches who helped them?”

We laughed together, and the start of a new friendship was formed.

The reason Dave only notices terrible leaders is the same reason many leaders fail to tap into the potential greatness in their teams. Or, worse yet, they lose talented team members – who either find employment elsewhere or start their own companies.

Most companies are in a constant battle to attract the best of the best, because leaders are unwilling to see the talent they already have – and to make it their business to provoke it.

No leader wants to be terrible. Likewise, most employees want to do their best work. They might just need a little direction – and someone willing to believe in their greatness.

Join the Conversation: Do you have team members who aren’t performing up to snuff? If so, what do you do to help them reach their full potential?

Keeping it simple,

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across GenerationsHidden Heroes and Power Suck.

Misti on Google+

3 thoughts on “All Leadership Coaches Are Terrible!

  1. Wendy

    Great story, the real lesson for me was in your initial response. Imagine the lost opportunity if you had taken personal offense to his biased comment that “leadership coaches are terrible..”
    But you found some common ground and moved forward with an opportunity to teach, what a great lesson right there.

  2. Lowell Nerenberg

    Very important and rarely discussed point, Misti. I’m glad you wrote about it. It’s habit of mind that many of us are blind to, including me, even though I think I am well aware of the possibility it could be lurking there within me. This reminds me of a line I’ve come across many times over the years, and I paraphrase… When a pickpocket encounters a true saint, all he sees is the wallet.


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