Life of a coach potato

Synopsis of article by Lucy Kellaway

Printed in the Financial Times, Monday February 14th 2000

We can not bring you the article in full as the FT quoted us between £200 and £1000 for the privilege! However, below is a synopsis and the article is available from the searchable database at - it should be free to view for 3 months from publication but charges apply thereafter.

Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times has stirred up something of a debate about executive coaching by suggesting that 'Instead of hiring a coach, the harassed executive might do better to quit the day job and become a coach'. Lucy was led to this conclusion by a piece in the US Fortune magazine which featured successful and carefree coaches coaching stressed-out executives by mobile phone from their yachts and the realisation that the coach earned a fat fee without interruption to her sunbathing whilst the client remained with his stressful workload.

Lucy was also interested to hear a British business manager at a drinks party boasting that he had an executive coach, leading her to speculate that 'coaches - an unholy mixture of consultant, therapist and sympathetic ear - are well on the way to being the biggest status symbol of all'.

These observations, combined with her suggestion that coaching requires no 'qualifications, experience or training', just the ability to offer 'platitudinous' advice over the telephone sparked something of a response!

The following week she suggested that the executive coaching industry had failed to see the funny side and the response of one 'aggrieved coaching firm' had led her to the conclusion that coaching has something of a sheep effect. 'One company takes up a new management practice, then more follow and then the rest of the world piles in'.

The debate will, no doubt, rumble on... Feel free to email the Network with your comments and look out for the opportunity to join an online discussion group on this site soon