What Does an Executive Coach Do?

Executive coaching is a form of personal or life coaching where the coach is working with an executive. In terms of the coaching tools and methods that the coach uses, it will be exactly the same as life coaching. However, the context in which the coaching happens might be a bit more complex than if someone just hired a coach to coach them on a personal level. In a corporate setting, it is not the executive to be coached who does the hiring. It is someone higher up in the chain of command hiring a coach for an executive in their company, because they see potential or promise in them or because there is a problem that needs to be solved.

The Definition of Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is assisting top executives to perform, learn, stay healthy and balanced, and effectively guide their teams to successfully reach and exceed desired goals. ( Source: https://johnmattone.com/blog/executive-coaching-definition-benefits-strategies-and-results/). In a corporate environment, a coach will be hired to help executives:

  1. Improve self-confidence
  2. Strike a better work-life balance
  3. Open up new career opportunities
  4. Become a more effective leader

It is important to differentiate between a coach, a consultant, and a mentor. Even though the executive might need all of them, it is important not to confuse their roles in an organization. A coach is someone who partners with you and supports you on a journey of your choice and based on your agenda. Your coach does not have the answers but helps you find your own answers by using coaching tools and competencies. The coaching relationship might last for a few months depending on the coaching agreement that you come to with your coach. A mentor is someone who is in the same field of work as you, but with much more experience and knowledge. Your mentor will take you under his wing and teach you what he knows. This relationship could last for a very long time. A consultant is someone who is brought in to give his expert opinion on a particular issue. It is a very short term relationship.

The following table sums up the differences between mentors, consultants, therapists, and coaches.

ThoughtMy experience is…
I know how…
I am an expert, this is what you are paying me to tell you.I will help you heal from the cause.How can i support your learning? Where would you like to go from here?
StatementThis is how i would do it.“This is how to do it.”
“This is how you should do it”.
“Tell me about your past.”
“What was it you went throught.”
What have you tried?
How has that served/ not served you?
What else is possible?
ActionGuidance and AdviceDirection,method,technique and information.Probe, Psychonolyze, deep reflection, come to terms.Explore, experiment, learn new ways of working, thinking, doing prsonally and professionally.

The benefits of executive coaching

Both the executive and the company or organization stand to benefit from the coaching process.

Benefits to the executive may include:

  • Increased self-awareness
  • Increased self-regulation
  • Greater empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Flexible thinking replacing rigid thinking
  • Higher levels of motivation
  • More effective leadership

Benefits to the organization may include:

  • Enhanced individual and organizational performance.
  • Increased positivity in organizational culture.
  • Enhanced reputation within the industry.
  • Improved employee morale.
  • Positive work environments.
  • Greater productivity and enhanced client relationships.
  • Better retention.
  • Lower costs.
  • Coaching can be a competitive edge.

When does Executive coaching fail

The tricky part of executive coaching is that someone else hires a coach to work with the executive. So if the executive is not interested or motivated to do the coaching, then unfortunately the coaching may fail. Coaching only works if the coachee is open to influence and is genuinely interested in coaching and is willing to change. The other reason why executive coaching might fail is if the superiors of the coachees hire a coach because they already have an agenda (for example to fire someone) and they want to use the coach to justify their decision. Or if the superiors are not interested in the coaching process, to begin with.

Bushra Dudeen 
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