I often use the analogy of a personal trainer when I analyse the factors affecting business coaching success. Here’s a story we can all relate to.

Joe Blob was overweight, unfit and unhealthy. He took on a personal trainer to help him get back into shape. But when he became unhappy with his lack of progress, Joe parted ways with his trainer after having nothing to show for the money he spent.  The personal trainer reminded him of all the training sessions Joe had cancelled. He asked him if he had implemented the home exercise programme he had suggested. Had he changed his diet as recommended by the nutritionist that the personal trainer had referred Joe to?

You see, a personal trainer can’t make Joe lose weight or get fit. At the end of the day, Joe is the one who has to do the push ups and run on the treadmill. Joe has to personally implement his advice and programmes. He is the one who has to change to his diet and eat appropriately when no one is watching.

A business and executive coach is no different. For leadership coaching to be successful, a lot relies on the person being coached. Therefore, I can attribute most of my coaching success to the clients themselves.

I can’t help you if you cancel or postpone sessions. You won’t make progress if you don’t do your homework. You are the one that has to implement the solutions we suggest and agree to at the coaching sessions. And you have to make the relevant changes to your behaviour and the way you work. I can’t do that for you.

Coaching is not for everyone. Taking on a business coach to support you is the first step in taking ownership and responsibility for your business or personal growth and development. But you can’t abdicate that responsibility to the coach.

Here are some factors that influence coaching success.

Who decides?

The decision to work with a coach must be yours. Imagine the response if you tell your spouse you have decided they need a personal trainer to lose weight! In the same way, when companies impose a business coach on team members, it is rarely successful unless the individual truly sees the value in having a coach.

An eagerness and desire to learn

The ‘know-it-all’ and ‘stuck-in-my-ways’ candidate won’t take advice from many people, including a coach. Coachable clients understand that they need to do something different to achieve a different result.


The vision for what they want to achieve is greater than the resistance they have to change.

Leaving your comfort zone

Successful coaching clients have a very clear picture of the end goal. You also need to understand that in order to achieve this goal or vision, you will need to leave your comfort zone. No goal worth achieving comes naturally without extra effort.

Open minded

Be open to suggestions and different ways of thinking, and accepting of positive and negative feedback to improve the way you do things. You can’t be sensitive about your shortcomings. Isn’t it better to have someone you trust tell you what everyone is thinking?

Make the time

An understanding that it is going to be a time consuming exercise to implement new ways of working. Yes, you need to get up a little earlier, or work a little later, or rearrange your time schedule to fit in the tasks that will help you achieve your goal.

DIY growth

They want a coach rather than a consultant because they want to acquire the skills and knowledge themselves. A personal trainer can’t run the marathon on your behalf. He could… but then it wouldn’t be your achievement would it? In the same way, your coach can’t do the work for you for you to achieve your goal.


Effective coaching clients are disciplined, self-motivated, on time, and fastidious with diary commitments. There may be times when you have better things to do, don’t feel up to it, or feel pressured for time. But every cancellation or postponement is a message to your coach and yourself that your goal is not that important to you.


Coaching success is much more likely when you approach it from a place of motivation to achieve a goal rather than a desperate state and a “last ditch effort”.


They see coaching as an investment in the business and their personal development, rather than an expense. The skills and approaches you learn with a personal trainer or business coach will stay with you for life and give you a framework from which to approach almost any obstacle you may encounter in life. You invest in property, shares, material goods. Why wouldn’t you invest in your health and your business leadership?

Take our coachability test – how coachable are you?

If you, like Joe Blob, are feeling that you need a bit of a shake up and assistance to change the way you currently do things, don’t expect to pay someone else to come and do it for you. Only you can take responsibility and ownership for your success… but there is no harm in having someone hold you accountable and give you support and guidance along the way!

Let’s talk

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