Coaching Leadership and the Myth of the Magic Bullet

Whispered in the hallways of corporate training facilities all over the globe is the demand for a magic bullet. A secret ingredient or special sauce that is going to unlock the keys to leadership, mastery of Emotional Intelligence, or developing executive presence.

I see well-meaning conscientious professionals scouring the bookstores. Eagerly devouring the latest leadership guru’s number one bestseller offering a formula for success. As if somehow being able to understand a concept is the same as mastering a competency. Much of what I offer is easy to understand, but hard to do. I coach the “hard to do”.  Much of what I coach requires more then understanding. It requires self-reflection, strategy, implementation and practice. And then more practice.

I’m frequently asked if leadership or presence can be taught. The tools can be taught. The will can be strengthened. The desire cultivated, but there is no substitute for an experience. Experiential learning trumps all the books, lectures, and blog posts. Yes, concepts need to be learned. But coaching quickly moves from teaching to experiencing to mirroring skills and challenges.  And then more practice.

When I’m approached to deliver a thirty minute talk on say, Executive Presence, to a group of 100 people, and the expectation is that they will improve their executive presence after thirty minutes, I hit the pause button.  To expect change, you have to put in the time. The magic bullet is a myth and if someone promises short cuts, I say run the other way.


Here is an article from the New York Times “in praise of Depth” –












Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *