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Ruthlessly Results-Oriented

What ideas or reactions does the word RUTHLESS concoct for you?  It probably evokes feelings of someone who would trample over you or others to achieve their goal. So what if I described to you someone who was “ruthlessly results-oriented“?

I recently exchanged tweets with @coachingacademy as follows:

A bit more research and I found the referenced Fast Company article “Wanna be a player? Get a coach!” written by Claire Tristram in 2006.  The actual passage in the article states:

“If coaches have one thing in common, it’s that they are ruthlessly results-oriented”.

I disagree.  Completely.

A question of Trust

In coaching, the basis of a successful coaching relationship is trust.  With trust established, a skilled coach can create the right degrees of tension and challenge to raise awareness and help facilitate change.  Without change there are no meaningful results.  Without results, coaching has no value.  Results come from trust.

This perhaps defines what good coaches have in common.

Ruthless means to act in a manner which is cruel, merciless or hard-hearted, without pity or compassion.

To me this feels like the antithesis of good coaching.  It feels like it could undermine trust.  It feels like it could drive a client to follow the coaches agenda, not the clients own.

A problem from the past

The article was written 5 years ago and is after all just one article.  There is an increasingly better understanding of coaching and what good practice looks like, especially when working with Executives.  We’ve moved on right?  Well this is where I have the problem…

Try Googling “ruthlessly results-oriented” and you initially get 8,330 results!  Scroll through them and it comes down to 259 results.  Over 40% of these are postings from the last year all of which seem to reference and endorse this phrase used in Fast Company magazine 5 years ago.

So what I take from this is that there are plenty of people out there who still feel that “If coaches have one thing in common, it’s that they are ruthlessly results-oriented”.  Most of these people seem to be coaches…

Does it matter?

Those who know me well enough know that I’m passionate about assuring quality practice in both coaching and mentoring.  It’s one of the reasons I’m involved as a volunteer with the EMCC.

The basis for coaching is trust.  The value of coaching is in the results we help our clients achieve.

My concern is not with an article written 5 years ago.  My concern is with the continued use of language which harks back to an era when some coaches were more interested in their own results rather than their clients.  This worries me.  Deeply.

So that’s my view but how about you?  Tell me what you think…

  • How would you feel about a coach who was “ruthlessly results-oriented”?
  • What are your concerns about poor coaching practice?



3 thoughts on “Ruthlessly Results-Oriented

  1. This post was originally published on my old Blogger site. The comments posted at the time can be found at :-


    Posted by David Goddin | February 14, 2013, 11:24 AM
  2. Journo puff and lack of understanding I would suggest. If the word ‘ruthlessly’ was removed, my guess would be it wouldn’t have had the impact the writer was looking for, the stand out phrase that people are still regurgitating some years on, so they chose that word. What word would have showed understanding and conveyed the impact they wanted to, ‘very’, ‘passionately’ etc.

    But like I said, ‘no one hired a coach to get worse at something’. Go well, David.



    Posted by thezenmutt | February 14, 2013, 11:45 AM
  3. Well said – “Passionately Results-Oriented” would have landed so differently… a good demonstration of how the impact of a single word can cause ripples that last.


    Posted by David Goddin | February 14, 2013, 11:49 AM


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