The Coaching Venue: Is It Live, Or Is It Memorex?

While advising people in top leadership positions has been going on for a long time (remember that Daniel was Nebuchadnezzar II‘s Executive Coach in Babylon a mere 26 centuries ago), only recently has the term “executive coach” come into vogue.

One of the debates that rages in executive coaching circles is the same as in real estate: location, location, location. What locations are appropriate for conducting executive coaching?

Is it Live? Or is it Memorex?

In The Sherpa Guide: Process-Driven Executive Coaching Brenda Corbett and Judith Coleman are strong proponents of the face-to-face approach. “Most communication is visual, nonverbal… Over the phone, visual stimuli are removed. Email takes away even more, stripping inflection and tone of voice from the relationship.”

And while there are few coaches that decry the face to face approach, Cameron Powell, Head Coach at Feroce Coaching indicates that “coaching done by email, Instant Messenger, and telephone, is not only the most prevalent form of non-athletic coaching in the world, it is considered by many to be more effective than doing the same thing in person.”

What form of coaching are you most comfortable with? What do you think is most effective in today’s busy workplace?

Bookmark The Coaching Venue: Is It Live, Or Is It Memorex?

R. Ian Davis is Head Coach at Called2Communicate in Pittsburgh, PA
He serves middle and high-school students in the fine art of communication
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

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3 responses to “The Coaching Venue: Is It Live, Or Is It Memorex?

  1. Well, I have to say I am more confortable with face-to-face because of the same issues that Corbett/Coleman mention, and I strive to do it that way. However, with very mobile execs this is not always an option. So, I look for a combination that works for that particular client. For instance, some FTF, followed by blogging back and forth in a dedicated, private blog setting, SKYPE and VIDEOCONFERENCING. I also use the time allotted for coaching to work with close collaborators, etc.


  2. My preference is for f-f, partly because it allows for a hug (if appropriate), partly because I’m an old-timer who likes the multi-dimensional sensory gratification of it.

    That being said, we are always revealing so much of ourselves in so many different ways that I don’t have much difficulty being highly effective coaching folks over the phone or via Skype. Breathing patterns reveal so much. Tone of voice, words chosen, topics included/left out also reveal much for a coach to work with. Even e-mail and other written media are not a major obstacle when a ‘trained observer’ knows how to read beyond the obvious.

    For me, what is much more important in helping a client achieve results is the degree of trust and rapport established between us, and maintained during the tough conversations that are sometimes necessary. Taking the time to establish (and re-establish, as necessary) the context for the coaching conversation is equally important, regardless of the coaching media utilized.


  3. Most coaching is more effective when in person. For example, when it comes to a weight loss coach I like to have face-to-face interaction because it motivates me to stay healthy. Also, I take voice lessons and my voice coach needs to be there to help me out, unless I’m performing.


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