Thomas Leonard wasn’t necessarily wrong – just inexperienced outside of his niche.

In Krishna De’s blog at she mentioned a quotation that I attributed to Thomas Leonard and, I should add, the coaches I trained with at CoachU in the 90’s.

Leonard commented that:
“The coach doesn’t do the work – the client does the work.”

I wonder how many coaches would recognise that in fact he was wrong….

The quote should have been:

“The coach doesn’t do the work – and the client doesn’t do the work either!”

I have to say that my own evidence for this addition to Thomas’s wisdom is born out of my experience with over 450 clients in The Dental Business School and over 100 clients in The Coaching Business School.

Here is an interesting distinction between dentists and coaches as clients:

The quarterly workshops – dentists and teams 100% attendance, coaches 100% attendance.

The weekly email progress report – dentists 20%, coaches 100%.

The monthly call-in days – dentists 25%, coaches 100%.

The monthly conference calls – dentists 10%, coaches 100%.

The open-access email availability (coaching gym) – dentists 20%, coaches 100%.

Dan Sullivan at The Strategic Coach describes his ideal clients:

“Slow learners with deep pockets”

And, with that in mind, I concluded some time ago that dentists were ideal clients.

It will come as no surprise to discover that my opinion of coaches and consultants as clients is different. That’s “different” – not better or worse before you start getting outraged.

Different because they are fast learners with shallow pockets – they have the inclination (and, dare I say it?) the spare time to take part in ALL of the services you might provide to them. So if you intend to work with coaches and consultants – make sure you have lots of time to invest for little return.

Maybe that’s why the “snake oil” sellers are doing so well with all of their virtual get rich quick schemes?

Bless my dentists – they learn so slowly and pay so well. And it’s not for my want of trying! I moan at them every workshop about making better use of my services.

It was some comfort to read, last week, the musings of another coach who works with lawyers and offers a “coaching gym” – he has a 20% usage.

So it’s not just me – and it’s not just dentists.

I suspect that it’s all smaller professional service providers.

The clients’ who don’t do the work – and come back year after year for more.

Thomas was simply living in a world of coaches as clients – and swamped by their participation – me included. In time, I’m sure his clients would have explained to him what was happening to them – and he would have adjusted his philosophy – and, no doubt, sold a new programme to deal with it!


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.