What is executive coaching?

Executive coaching is about using coaching as an approach for developing capability and performance in the work context. As an Executive Coach I come from a management development training background. Effective coaching is very good at influencing changes in management and leadership behaviours, confidence and work performance.

Outcomes executive coaching is used to achieve:

  • Supporting leaders/managers development programmes (often supporting training transfer following training workshops)
  • Supporting leaders/managers transition to a new leadership and management approaches (e.g. coaching approach to leading and managing)
  • Supporting leaders/managers implementing organisational change
  • Supporting leaders/mangers stepping into a new role
  • Supporting emerging talent
  • Supporting employees seen as underperforming

Role of an executive coach

An effective executive coach is a specialist in facilitating the development of skills and behaviours of their client.  As a coach I have a balancing act to perform in providing a structure to discuss development issues and enable insight and reflective learning. At the same time I allow the client to retain control of the process. I work with a range of tools and processes  to provide frameworks for clients thinking. At the core of coaching is art of supporting a client’s learning through reflection and self-discovery. I provide the opportunity to learn from reflection and innovate solutions to current and future issues. Moreover, I introduce an agenda, models, ideas, concepts, feedback, and competency frameworks as useful tools. They stimulate the thinking, reflection, and reflective learning of the client.  

Types of executive coaching

There is no consensus nor conclusion neither a clear definition for executive, leadership, professional and business coaching. All of them are in fact different types of professional coaching which is different from life coaching as its primary focus is on professional rather than personal issues.

  • Executive coaching more broadly covers work with executives across the organisation, senior as well as more junior high potentials. It is used most effectively by those who have significant responsibility for the current and future success of an organisation and who have a potential and will to grow, develop and change.
  • Leadership coaching is about enabling managers to change, providing a space to reflect and come to understand themselves and ultimately to release and channel their creativity towards their organisational goals. 
  • Business coaching goes beyond executive coaching in that it also assists the business owner or key person within a company to develop the business as well as themselves. Ideally business coach should be experienced in business development, too.

Executive coaching for performance, transformation and development

  • Performance coaching is about unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance and is focused on raising the coachee’s level of performance. Whitmore describes it as a way of being that stems from a belief in the capability, resourcefulness, and potential of yourself and others. This allows you to focus on strengths, solutions, and future success, not weakness, problems, or past performance.
  • Transformational coaching is focused on changing behaviours and capabilities through shifting the thinking of the coachee. Transformational coaching is much more about influencing the coachee to think, feel and act differently about the situations they are concerned with. The chance of learning and change being transferred back into the live situation is much higher. This felt shift occurs more than when people simply leave with good intentions. Transformational coaching is in fact a type of developmental coaching. 
  • Developmental coaching is concerned with helping the client to think and act differently in response to a dilemma. It might be a lifelong process. 

Benefits of executive coaching

From my practical perspective as an executive coach I tackle the breadth of methods, tools and approaches covered by those labels as discussed above. Building on my professional experience my executive and leadership coaching help leaders and executives become more self-aware to carry out their leadership role more effectively. This is for the benefit of both the leader and his or her people. It also helps grow more conscious, learning and empowering working environments and cultures. Executive and leadership coaching if done well have a power not only to transform the individuals but also their teams and organisation. Moreover, effective coaching is very good at influencing changes in management and leadership behaviours, confidence and work performance.