Think you can't have a coach - you canOMG. You just had THE BEST CALL with a coach. You’d love to get signed up with her for 1-1 coaching.

She got you. What an absolute joy!

It was so good to take off the CEO hat for a bit for a fabulous rant about the pressures of being a non-profit leader:

  • being spread too thin with the crazy number of things you have to do
  • the nightmare of recruiting
  • the demoralising feeling that you’re not doing enough
  • the conflicting demands on resources
  • the on-going challenges of hybrid working.


It was such a relief to be heard and deeply understood.

And now, there’s a decision to make and the doubts are creeping in – “Can I really justify investing in myself in this way?”

I so get you.

I talk to a lot of non-profit CEOs and, like you, they ‘know’ they need a coach. (Their partner in the private sector has had one for years, for goodness sake.) They ‘know’ in their hearts they can’t do it alone. They ‘know’ they deserve it.

But – there are a million reasons why they can’t possibly justify coaching for themselves.

  • I can’t spend all this money on me when there are so many needs in the organisation
  • What about the rest of the team? They need coaching too. It’s not fair on them
  • Surely if I just put my big pants on I can manage this?
  • We’ll just get x, y or z, done, then I’ll get some coaching
  • My head is too full to focus on anything but getting through the day
  • It’s more than the budget of the whole team put together!
  • Is this really a good investment?

I’ve heard all these many times before and they pretty much boil down to two worries:

  1. I don’t have the money for coaching
  2. I don’t have the time for coaching.

I invite you to see things differently. Let’s blow ‘I don’t have the money for coaching’ out of the water. (The ‘no time’ issue gets the same treatment in this blog.)

Yes, great coaching requires financial investment and in tough times that feels like a luxury you can’t afford. It might even feel like a ‘nice-to-have’.

But truly – it shouldn’t be.

Coaching is not a frivolous ‘jolly’.  It’s not in any way ‘fluffy’. Think of coaching as a hard-working deposit, a vital investment in the core work of your organisation, rather than a withdrawal from your hard-earned funds.

Coaching has a tangible and positive effect on the bottom line. I believe coaching is an absolute ’must-have’ for non-profit and purpose-driven CEOs.

Let me tell you why.

1.You are an expensive asset. You need up-keep

Let’s imagine your organisation relies on the work of a very expensive animal, a beautiful horse say. Your trustees paid a lot of money for that horse and it’s essential to your business. Abuse it, neglect it, work it so hard that it claps out after a few weeks – that would be crazy. (And cruel.)

You’d look after it. You’d put in the daily maintenance (oats, water, sugar lumps) and the long-term investment it needed (comfy stable, medicine, TLC) to guarantee it was in a tip-top state to live a happy fulfilled life, work at its best and ensure the business thrives.

So, imagine you are that horse. (I know, I know, but give it go!)

As the CEO, you’re the biggest asset in your non-profit. Success depends on you being in tip-top condition, too. Like the horse, you need on-going maintenance and investment, so you can work at your best.

Okay, you can stop being a horse now.

Coaching is that maintenance and investment.  Coaching takes you from being a ‘good’ leader to being a ‘great’ one. It gives you a safe, reflective space where you get to maximise the skills, knowledge and talents you already have and supports you to learn new ones, making you even better at leading your team.

Think you can't have a coach - you can

2. You get your very own CEO Sat Nav

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an easy-to-follow road-map of exactly how to reach your organisational goals? If you could input them into your phone and out would pop a simple, step-by-step route to success that you could just get on with?

Fab, eh? But, no such luck.

These are complex and fast-changing times and there really are no guidelines. Even experienced CEOs are floundering right now as they try to respond lightening quick to a bewildering set of unfamiliar concerns:

  • finding a way through a post-pandemic hybrid way of working
  • managing multiple, conflicting pressures on even tighter budgets
  • handling the daily fallout on staff of not being able to find and retain talented people.

Few CEOs I work with have had any training or coaching on how to actually be a high-performing CEO – if there ever was a CEO School, well, there certainly isn’t one now – and new CEOs have never had to lead in such times.

If you were in business, I reckon you’d have got a coach, by now, don’t you? But you’re not being supported.

How on earth are you expected to do your job?

When you work with a coach, they are that CEO Sat Nav. A calm and experienced guide who will challenge and support you, so you make quicker, more confident decisions. A coach is your own personal route map with one destination – your success.

3. You no longer have to work alone

It’s always been ‘lonely at the top’. Non-profit CEOs face complex challenges and decisions, often on confidential issues which you simply can’t share. You have to trust your own judgement and make a whole bunch of difficult calls single-handedly. It’s hard work and it’s stressful.

The pandemic has bumped up this isolation, big-time. Remote working means fewer in-person get-togethers. Casual opportunities for a drink and a chat don’t crop up as they once did. I’m seeing leaders alone and isolated without quite realising what’s happening.

And yet, we are not designed to sit in an office on our own and find solutions out of nowhere. We are not designed to work in a vacuum.

Humans are social creatures (yep, even the introverts). We need community. We need other eyes and ears on our challenges or it all becomes too much. We get overwhelmed and frustrated, make poor decisions, find ourselves working ridiculous hours and begin to doubt ourselves. Stress, burnout, depression and physical illness ain’t far away.

Get too isolated and you risk falling right out of love with your job and leaving the work you once adored.

I don’t believe you really want that.

Having a coach by your side avoids this silent horror show. You never need feel alone or isolated. You get to work through complex issues with a ‘critical friend’ and champion who knows you, gets you and is right there for you.

4. You set a good example to your team

Coaching is no longer some sort of remedial intervention to be ashamed of, if it ever was. It’s not about ‘fixing’ you. There is zero shame in it.

Working with a coach is about taking top performance seriously. It’s about saying “I’m great at my job. I want to be even better and build a happy, productive and resilient organisation while taking care of my wellbeing, building my resilience and honing my leadership skills.”


It’s hugely powerful to share with your team that you’re getting coached to help you do these things. You model:

  • self-care and wellbeing
  • self-awareness and reflection
  • continuous learning and improvement
  • openness, vulnerability and honesty.

When you do this, it gives your whole team permission to do the same. It sets the culture tone throughout the organisation. Coaching allows you to ‘be the change that you want to be in the world’ so others follow.

Think you can't have a coach - you can

5. You manage your stakeholders better

It’s tricky managing multiple relationships and you sure have a lot of them. The senior team. The chair. Officers. Team leaders. Front-line staff, maybe. Users. Investors perhaps.  Phew. That’s a lot of people to keep on board.

These relationships matter. They’re key to whether the organisation is one in which it’s possible to work happily and effectively, or whether there’s a toxic culture of silo-working, mistrust and unproductive behaviour.

Softer skills such as empathy, trust-building, listening, dealing with conflict and difficult conversations are at the heart of building relationships. And if these skills are not your natural behaviour? Well, how will you learn them? (It’s not easy to tell a CEO where they fall short. Colleagues will often avoid honest feedback and find workarounds which waste time and money.)

A coach gives the ‘brain-space’ to explore these softer skills and will help you work on gaps. It’s a coach’s job to ‘tell you how it is’ by holding a mirror up to the blind spots which disempower you, and frustrate your team. They help you learn and practice these vital relationship skills without judgment.

!! Coaching Is Not Just A Nice to Have!!

Coaching is about ensuring the health and success of the whole mission. It isn’t really about spending on you.

Coaching empowers you to thrive – rather than sink under the huge stresses and strains of being a non-profit CEO in the today’s climate – and when you thrive, the whole organisation thrives.

I know how tight your budget is. I know the financial pressures you face. I know the sector is under relentless pressure. I really do. I feel hugely for you amazing people doing amazing work with so little resource.

And – that’s exactly why it’s so vital to get yourself coached. To take yourself seriously, to invest in that beautiful horse in you – so you’re in the best possible state to lead your organisation.

What’s next?

Is this making sense? Drop me an email and let’s chat about getting you some coaching without delay! You deserve it.

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