As recently as 25 years ago, very few executive coaches existed and the practice of executive coaching in businesses was rare. Executive coaching is now one of the most widely used learning and development tools, and its use is growing faster every year.

Why? Quite simply, because it works.

Executive coaching is considered the best way to ensure executives learn how to meet and exceed expectations, both day-to-day and over the long term. It has become an accepted – even expected – practice in many organisations today. And when you look at the known benefits of executive coaching, it’s easy to see why.

This article serves as a guide to executive coaching and will give you a step by step breakdown on how to use executive coaching to become develop first time managers, drive senior managers or become an effective CEO.

Where executive coaching can help

Here are some of typical workplace scenarios where executive coaching can help:

You’re working hard, carrying the bulk of the workload, sacrificing personal and family time but not getting the recognition

You’re wondering how to prepare for and achieve that promotion

You’re feeling overwhelmed, unclear of your direction and wondering how you will reach your career goals

You’re held back by limiting beliefs, unproductive work habits or poor time-management

You’re doubting yourself and feeling a lack of confidence even though you are told you are competent at what you do

You’re feeling like you are on a treadmill to nowhere

Key elements of your executive coaching program

An effective and transformational coaching program will empower you to overcome your limiting beliefs and achieve personal and professional goals.

Executive coaching programs help busy leaders see their blind spots, take control of their careers and get off the treadmill to nowhere. The benefits for individuals participating in successful executive coaching programs include:

increased engagement and productivity

higher self-esteem and a better work-life balance

more effective communication and management of direct reports

greater awareness of (unhelpful) patterns and habits

better time-management

greater job satisfaction and career opportunities.

Executive coaching in business

A business that has a committed and engaged leadership team who are self-aware, understand their blind spots and are able to overcome any potentially negative personal behaviours will undoubtedly experience improvements in overall business performance and results.

Other flow-on benefits to businesses from executive coaching programs include:

a culture of accountability for performance and business results

organisational effectiveness and profitability

retention of key personnel such as executives, professionals and other staff members

a reputation as an employer of choice.

executive coaching services

Executive coach for an individual – the One 2 One effect

Are you:

newly promoted to a role with greater or changed responsibility but little support to take
on your new responsibilities

unhappy in your current role or organisation and seeking support to make a change

seeking career progression and wanting to make sure you are doing everything in your power to move to the next level?

Executive coaching will provide you with the tools and support to achieve your personal and professional goals.

Let’s look at what really happens in executive coaching and how it works. Executive coaching is typically geared towards top or high potential employees. The coaching is based on a trusting relationship between the coach and participant where information shared is treated as confidential.

Through a customised program, an executive coach will help a participant gain deep insights into their own personal behaviours and working style, practices, strengths and limitations.

The goal being to enhance the participant’s effectiveness as a leader, their job satisfaction and performance.

Coaching of any sort is different to teaching or instructing. In coaching, the individual is involved in identifying the problems, working out and applying the solutions to them and reviewing the results.

It is thought that this form of participant-led learning results in a much deeper understanding and more complete and long-lasting change.

The hidden benefits of executive coaching

The House of Balance has a focus on your people’s strengths and how to use these to best effect whilst also addressing anything that may be holding them back.

Executive coaching helps people achieve:

Improved resilience, mental toughness, self-belief and confidence

Greater team performance

More effective personal impact

Improved engagement and leadership of people

Improved working relationships

More effective strategic thinking

Calmness and reduced pressure

Innovative thinking

Greater ability to influence upwards.

What is the right coach for you?

What do Nat Fyfe and Nicole Kidman have in common? Besides being highly regarded and respected in their fields, both of them would not have been as successful as they are without a great coach to unearth their fullest potential.

It is no different in the world of business. Executives and organisations can achieve much more with the right coaching, and choosing the right coach is the all-important first step. This grid breaks down four popular types of coaching so you can identify which style of coaching best aligns with your goals as well as those of your organisation.

Executive Coaching

Works with you on your professional goals and development within an organisation

Adds value to clients by harnessing professional potential through asking deep questions and encouraging self-reflection

Business Coaching

Works with you on processes, tools and concepts for developing your business

Adds value to clients by directly advising on areas of improvement in business

Life Coaching

Works with you on your personal goals and your growth towards achieving them

Adds value to clients by unlocking deeper insight and understanding of themselves as individuals

Career Coaching

Works with you on making career-related decisions and achieving your career goals

Adds value to clients by providing direct advice and guidance on career paths, goals and transitions

Expectations, timeline and how we work together

A program of executive coaching usually lasts between six to 12 months, progressing through the following stages, tailored to the individual’s objectives and needs:

Stage 1: Initial meeting and self-assessment

The coaching program will kick-off with a meeting between the coach and the executive member (client). At this meeting, the coach participates in discussions to understand the client’s background, objectives and goals for coaching and gauge their level of engagement in the process.

A client’s willingness to participate is a key success criterion for any coaching program. Clients should go into coaching with an open mind and a real willingness to learn and grow.

A further meeting between the coach and client will then be held in order to clarify expectations, goals and ensure the participant is fully committed to the coaching process. An in-depth self-assessment is undertaken in which the client’s life (including personal behaviours and any limiting beliefs), career, strengths, weaknesses, and motivations are explored. It is useful if these reflections are captured in writing either by the coach or the client.

Stage 2: Coach assessment and feedback

Assessments are tools used to gather information about an individual – their values, behaviours, leadership style and overall effectiveness. The process of assessment will help to build the coach/client relationship and guide and focus the coaching program on the development needs and goals of the client.

A good coach will gather data from many sources to get the best picture of their client. They will conduct their own assessment of the client; depending on where an individual is in the development process and their past experience, this may range from being quite informal to formal – from chat to questionnaire, and they may conduct simple observations of the client at work.

Depending on whether an individual has sought coaching for personal and professional growth, independent of their employer or is being sponsored by an organisation to attend, the coach may access personnel records and conduct interviews. This enables a coach to gather 360-degree feedback about the client – invaluable in the next stage: developing the client’s action plan.

The coach will decide on the right approach needed to gain an understanding of the client and gather the necessary baseline data to proceed.

Stage 3: Planning and implementation

At this stage, a development or action plan is created, along with a schedule of coaching calls where progress is reviewed and issues or concerns raised for discussion. The plan may include objectives for future areas of work, roles of stakeholders, significant milestones related to progress and measures of success.

The program may cover any or all of the following areas:

finding clarity in a current role

increasing self-awareness

performance management

promotion preparation

developing executive presence

enhancing planning and strategic thinking

mindfulness and authentic leadership

conflict resolution

building and leading effective teams

optimising communication

managing career development and progression

becoming a leader.

In this stage, the client focuses on specific changes necessary for fulfilling the individual development
plan. This may require the client to:

try new behaviours and report on them to the coach

attempt new skills

strengthen key relationships within the organisation

talk to successful executives who embody strengths the client wants to develop

meet other stakeholders for their input on the client’s development goals and plans

attend training programs as necessary.

Coach and client will be in regular communication in person or by phone to ensure focus remains on the development plan and successes and problems are discussed as they arise.

A good coach is by your side every step of the way, challenging old behaviours and inspiring your personal transformation!

Stage 4: Mid-point assessment and final review

In addition to the regular coaching calls and catch ups, the program will typically include a more formal mid-point assessment and final review.

The mid-point assessment is conducted half-way through the coaching program to track the client’s progress, assess the client/coach relationship and the coaching process. The following questions may be asked:

What is working well and what needs improving?

Is there anything we should be doing differently?

Are we on track to achieve our goals?

Answering these questions may prompt the client and coach to identify new development opportunities, better ways of supporting the client or changes to the action plan.

At a point when the client (and if relevant, other stakeholders) agree that the executive coaching process has met expectations, the coach begins a wind down process where the client does more and more of the target behaviours on their own, with less need for one-on-one coaching.

A final review can be conducted several weeks after the last coaching session to obtain feedback, acknowledge accomplishments, and present a final report to the individual or business on the outcome of the coaching process. At this point, the client and coach decide whether to continue or end the coaching program.

A return on your coaching investment

A good coach and their participant will have at least one goal in common – making the coaching program a success. From the outset, the coach and participant should consider the following factors for a successful coaching program:
Clear expectations and goals

Both the coach and the participant should clearly articulate their expectations of each other, the coaching relationship and the coaching program. This will help ensure a positive rapport between the coach and the participant and that the coaching relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. Setting clear, measurable goals for coaching will ensure the program is targeted at the individual’s specific leadership needs and that opportunities for learning and development are maximised.

Buy-in and a willingness to learn

A participant’s positive attitude towards coaching will be a key success factor in any coaching program. Individuals should go into coaching with an open mind and a real willingness to learn and grow. Participants need to be willing to examine their potential blind spots, limiting beliefs and behaviours in order to explore and try new ways of working. It is also important to make sure there is a ‘good-fit’ between the coach and participant as this is a key factor for buy-in.

Allowing adequate time

Executives, senior managers and other organisational leaders are typically extremely busy people. However, participating in an effective coaching program in which new, more productive behaviours are developed is a process that takes time. Ensuring that everyone involved understands that change takes time is another important success factor. Developing new work habits and becoming a more effective leader does not happen overnight.

What's Next?