Career Coaching vs Executive Coaching: How To Choose The Right Coach

You might be considering where you are in your career, what you want it to look like, and what success means to you. Or perhaps you are thinking of exploring new opportunities and wondering where to start, maybe even considering a career change.

A quick search on Google has suggested business coaching as an option, or perhaps your business has suggested coaching to help prepare you for the next step, or upon joining a new company. A number of studies have shown that coaching executive talent can be hugely beneficial and will have a good impact on the leaders of a business. Feel proud that your business has suggested this for you, they obviously value you!

For business and career coaching, it is likely that you will be looking at either a coaching career or executive coaching; it is important to select the right coach for you and your situation to get the best results. Both a career and an executive coach will work on a one-to-one basis, however, some executive coaches might offer coaching services within a group setting, as this could be more relevant if you are a business considering executive coaching.

It is worth taking the time to review a number of resources to discover the best option for you. This is a personal process and understanding what each type of coach would cover is key, as a different type of coach may be more beneficial, such as a life coach. Life coaching can be of support with other areas that may not stem from a professional setting. A life coach will help with a number of areas including confidence, self-esteem, or other areas with a personal focus. They will be able to support you with professional goals too but this may not necessarily be their specialism. A life coach can provide a discovery-based framework that will help you see things clearly and honestly. Ultimately helping you achieve your personal goals.

Most coaches offer a chemistry call to help you decide if there is a good fit between the two of you; it is always worthwhile setting up calls with more than one coach and talking through what you would like to get out of your coaching session. Using the same questions will give you a good understanding of each coach's approach.


What Is The Difference Between a Career Coach and An Executive Coach?

Career Coaching

Career coaching can help you with your current job or support you in making a career change. However, you don't have to be established in your career for a career coach to be useful. You may be a school or college leaver who feels a little lost after focusing on doing well in your studies. You may be a university graduate, perhaps you've spent years studying a particular subject only to realised it’s an area you no longer want to pursue, or it doesn't align with your long-term goals.

The aim of career coaching is to give you an understanding of what you want, the skills you may need to achieve those goals, and how you can develop yourself. Career coaching will help you assess your professional situation with honesty and curiosity, you will work together to assess how best to develop and find clarity within your potential trajectory. You will get personalised advice that is tailored to your specific situation.

Within your current role, a coach could support improving your career progression within your current organisation or by finding a better balance between your home and work life. They can help you conduct a skill gap analysis to identify any areas that you may need to develop before you can be promoted, such as leadership skills for managing a larger team.

A career coach can support by coaching career changes; they will give you tools to assist with making you stand out from the crowd. This could include CV or cover letter writing, or support on your LinkedIn profile. They will help you identify your main skills and strengths, and help you to create a coherent story. They can consult on how best to network and present yourself in professional settings.

A coach could assist in overcoming the feeling of being ‘stuck’ career-wise, or returning to work after long-term leave or sickness. It is understandable to feel anxious in these situations, and moments of panic can be quite unsettling if they pop up during the workday, a coach will give you some great techniques to use.

By utilising a career coach, you will be able to test new ideas and messages in a safe environment, and they will help you explore and map out your ideas. This can be useful if you're looking to explore new options for yourself or if you have an idea you'd like to share with your business.

One major benefit of getting a career coach is that you will dedicate time to focus on your career and what you truly want. It is easy to get caught up in a routine, so this time will become invaluable in the long run. Many different people want to review their careers and take on new challenges, but most fail to take the time to work on it due to their daily routine. With career coaching,  you will create defined and realistic goals and a clear action plan which will allow you to focus and organise yourself to work towards these goals.

Executive Coaching.

Executive coaching typically works with people at C-Suite on enhancing their leadership performance. For example, presidents or vice-presidents.  However, they could also be of use to an emerging leader readying themselves to move up to that level. Executive coaching is typically work-related and will focus on improving performance and behaviour in your current workplace.

In the modern workplace an executive needs to be able to balance the priorities of the business as well as the people, they must develop a macro-perspective in order to lead in a complex environment. An executive coach can support leaders to improve performance through skill development, increased confidence, and focus. Also building productive relationships to guide their teams to successfully reach goals, and exceed individual and corporate expectations.

Executive coaches will support the development of leadership skills and identify training needs or organisational problems. If you are a newly appointed executive, you will be looking to take on a large amount of information quickly, learning all the nuances of your new business; a coach will support you through this period to take in all the important information and will also be able to support you in bringing in any changes.

Driving change as a new leader can be a real test of leadership for even the most seasoned executives. Studies have shown that leadership coaching when moving into a new role has been proven to reduce the timeframe for the leader to contribute to the organisation, reducing that of which they consume by an average of 40%. Without coaching, this can take on average 6.2 months.

The benefits from a personal perspective include support during role changes or joining the board, and increased openness to personal learning and development. An executive coach can give you new methods of managing stress, change, conflict or crisis, and help to identify potential solutions to specific work-related issues.

Executive coaching can be an excellent way to support and develop high performers as they progress through their careers. Perhaps your human resources team needs to select some high performers from a pool of talented employees. If so, in our article 'When To Invest In Executive Coaching and How To Select High Potential Talent?', we discuss how to identify high performers and ways to best measure the return on investment, whilst exploring the pros and cons of executive coaching.

There are many benefits to organisations investing in executive coaching for their staff; by investing in an individual it will increase their confidence and commitment to the organisation. Executive coaching can support enhancing a more creative outlook in business planning, as well as facilitating the adoption of a new culture in your business and building positive relationships between people and departments. This enhances leadership and collaboration throughout the business. Coaching executive talent has been shown to have a positive impact on the whole business as well as those that are being coached directly, by sharing ways to hit goals and keep a positive mindset.

It is important to note that companies should not overuse coaching or think that coaching is capable of solving deep and entrenched organisational problems. Coaching can be remarkably powerful, but it can’t do the impossible.

Career Coaching VS Executive Coaching, What Is Right For Me?

Take some time to ask yourself a number of questions on what the true goal is here. It is worth consulting others to find out what experience they had with either a career or executive coach and how they found it beneficial. 

If your goals are focusing on your career as a whole, then a career coach will likely provide the best support. However, it is likely that an executive coach would provide the best outcome if you hold an executive position within your business and would like guidance on tackling a problem within the business, developing deeper relationships with executives or across the management team, and want to enhance your leadership skills. An executive coach will also help you to navigate tricky situations you will likely encounter within your role.

Coaching can be incredibly rewarding and can give you many insights to take into the world. Above we mentioned that most coaches will provide a chemistry call to assess whether you could be a good fit. At the end of this call, it is a good sign if you feel really excited and inspired by your discussion. Feeling scared is not a problem as it is likely there will be some stretching involved and you will be working outside of your comfort zone.

Is It Worth The Cost?

One way to answer this question is to reflect on your current thinking about your career and the choices you have made, or could make. What could be different if you achieved your goals or had some support externally on levelling up? Coaches will help keep you focused and will challenge you to think differently and explore new options.

Both executive and career coaches will provide you with useful tools, and you will be able to utilise these forever as long as you work on building them into your habits. There are lots of people offering a variety of coaching services. We would recommend finding a coach that has good reviews, with an established coaching career, and specialises in the area you are looking to improve.

Ultimately, only you know whether your goals are worth the cost of getting to where you want to be. As a company looking at the return on investment, an unbiased method of ascertaining the benefits, it has been suggested, is examining the degree to which the coaching objective has been achieved. You can look at a number of indicators, such as the coachee practising the tools taught to them, and them identifying their own progress. It is also advisable to conduct 360 reviews showing sustained behavioural changes. This will allow you to analyse the true impact for both the individual that has received the coaching, as well as the impact it has had on your organisation as a whole.

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Executive Coaching versus Business Coaching

What is Executive Coaching?

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