What is Executive Coaching?

We explore what executive coaching is, how it works and the benefits to the executive or senior leadership team, the business and where to find an executive coach.

Executive Coaching« Back to Articles

Let’s start with the basics. To understand executive coaching, we first need to define and understanding coaching. Fortunately, we can do that. Coaching is defined as a development process, to help improve an individual in achieving a specific goal or objective, using the ‘here and now’. This is done by raising awareness and responsibility, to unlock heightened understanding, potential and performance. Unlike mentoring, coaching is non-directive, so it is about the coach helping the person they are coaching to unearth and understand their own potential inside.

So, what is executive coaching, and how is it different from traditional coaching? In a word, it isn’t. Executive coaching is just the same as traditional coaching in its processes, objectives, and aims. The primary difference is that executive coaching is focused on executives, C-suite employees (such as CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs), and senior leaders. This is typically within larger organisations, but increasingly we’re seeing scale-ups and startups turning to executive coaching to help their, often, younger leadership teams to improve their performance, capabilities, and development.

How Does Executive Coaching Work?

Executive Coaching often involves an external, well-trained, and qualified executive coach, coaching a senior leader or manager in an organisation, through either one-off or a series of coaching sessions. These coaching sessions are one-to-one and as a result confidential, by default. The coach will work with the executive or senior leadership team to help maximise potential, encourage reflection, and explore the ‘here and now’ to help the individual.

In some cases, there will be an assessment before executive coaching takes place. This can unearth strengths using tools like Gallup Clifton Strengths to help both the individual and their coach in understanding how they can best apply their strengths in their day-to-day working life, routines, goals, and objectives. If an executive has gone through an assessment first, then this can also ensure the coach can fine-tune and further develop existing skills. At the same time, executive coaches will often be able to provide guidance on weaknesses, to help the executive to avoid and leverage these weaknesses to their advantage.

Each coaching session is between 45-60 minutes in length, and this is optimal for success. Anything less than 45 minutes and the coach and executive are unlikely to really be able to get into the detail of a discussion. Anything more than 60 minutes and the focus is likely to drift. Coaching can be pretty exhausting and intense! The first couple of sessions are usually about the coach and the person their coaching (sometimes called the ‘coachee’) building rapport, going through the coachee’s goals and their objectives.

After goals and objectives have been outlined and discussed, it is then about the coach helping the executive to close the gap between where they currently are and their desired state. This, is essentially, the bulk of the coaching sessions.

Why is Executive Coaching Important?

Executive coaching is increasingly important in ensuring that executives, leaders and managers in businesses are equipped to maximise their potential, to, in-turn, maximise the potential of the business they are working in. Executive coaching can often be used in succession planning too, to ensure that those stepping into new, senior roles, with which a lot of additional responsibilities often appear, are fully prepared. Executive coaching, unlike life and career coaching, tends to go far further in focusing on management responsibilities and leadership capabilities. Executive coaching can be the difference between a highly effective, resourceful, and successful C-Suite team and a failing one. Studies have shown that executive coaching can benefit an organisation's culture, profitability, employee retention, satisfaction and much more.

Where Can I Find an Executive Coach?

There are thousands upon thousands of trained coaches around the world. Whilst PushFar’s platform is focused on mentoring, a lot of our best mentors are also trained coaches, so feel free to sign up free to find a mentor and search for coaches too. There are dozens of organisations that put an emphasis on executive coaching, such as PushFar’s partners, Sheridan Worldwide. These organisations have hundreds, even thousands, of executive coaches, with qualifications, training and real-world experience. Executive coaches can range in cost from as little as £100 up to £2,000+. This range is significant and isn’t always representative of skills, experience, or coaching qualifications.

Remember, each coach and focus are different. For executive coaches, you’ll need to know they have experience with senior leaders, managers, and global organisations. You can expect to pay more for executive coaching because of the calibre, experience, and qualifications required that go alongside it.

If you’d like to learn more about PushFar and how we can help, click here to request a demo of PushFar’s mentoring software or email info@pushfar.com to speak to our team today.
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