Executive coaching has become a buzzword in the leadership domain nowadays. This surge in popularity has created momentum over the years for good reason. The stigma that coaching was only for 'underperformers' has changed and companies and senior leaders are now realising that every professional should focus on continual growth to stay effective and productive. Executive coaching isn't performance management, in fact, many coaches will support executives that are already generating good results, however, are looking to take their business development to the next level.
With over 30 different psychological approaches to coaching, the definition of Executive coaching in itself is subjective, in that the individualised nature of the coaching process supports an array of outcomes. However, Coaching engagement allows targeted and skilled conversations with an expert coach to trigger long-term development curated by the individual. In other words, the coaching process essentially looks ahead to what can happen when the leader is empowered to uncover their own skills and develop an individual path to achieving their goals.
Executives effectively learn how to harness their own strengths (and their team’s) to increase productivity, performance, and a stronger execution on strategic imperatives. This challenges a common misconception that coaching is fixing, advising or telling you what to do within your own business environment--- a coach will not do any of these.
In our article Coaching vs Therapy, we go into the specific and common misconceptions of business coaching, elaborating further on the difference in support for personal development, leadership development and performance development.
"Coaching can create dramatic and quick results, unlike therapy which typically is a much longer approach. This approach will instil this type of thinking over the long-term which will assist the executive even after the coaching relationship has finished"- International Coaching Federation (ICF).
The business world is currently saturated with consulting programmes, advice columns and mentoring, so what makes executive coaching different and what is its purpose beyond the quick fix of a problem? Let's take a look.
Executive coaching has a wealth of purposes; from developing self-awareness to leveraging strengths, as well as creating the ability to overcome future challenges outside of the sounding board created by the coaching executive. It is important to outline that these benefits ultimately lie within the expertise, attributes and past experiences of the coaches. This is why choosing a coach with proven results and transparent testimonials will ensure a client is perfectly positioned to gain such benefits.
Here at Credible Coach, we vet every executive coach and personally speak to their previous clients to ensure that their references are detailed and can be trusted. So, assuming professionals or executives choose a reputable coach from us, what are some of the benefits to them?
Empirical studies have proven that executive coaches provide these strengths with 5 t0 7 times return on investment due to the nature of the process being exclusive and unique to the client. But, when is the right time to hire an executive coach? or who should be making this leap into development to secure these benefits?
Here are a few instances:
With this list ever-expanding, it is no surprise that for years, CEO's of some of the worlds most famous companies have relied upon executive coaching.
Whilst these progressive CEO'S have used executive coaching within their career to develop companies with household names, the importance of coaching can also be seen on a smaller scale.
As an example, coaching for new CEO’s enables the executive to think through the building of the relationships with the board as well as ensuring the top management team are aligned with where they want to take the business.
Here are some of these results provided by previous clients who have used Credible Coach to find their coaching executive:
'Meetings are now more productive which has resulted in some new agreed business strategies being implemented that will eventually improve the organisation performance and its profitability'
'I was always sceptical about hiring an executive coach but it's the best decision I could have made for myself and my business.'
Despite these, for many professionals the idea of admitting to needing or wanting an executive coach still remains. Below is the Ultimate Guide to what to expect when first starting the coaching journey.
As a client, the professional drives the coaching agenda whilst the coach confirms, clarifies and defines the program in a way that holds them accountable against their goals. With a large emphasis on communication and listening, the coach does not advise but simply demonstrates their belief in their client's personal ability and skills, creating a sense of partnership rather than a mentorship or consultancy. This belief that the answers to your questions or challenges reside within you maintains an element of self-control and kickstarts the self-belief momentum.
It goes without saying that the phrase 'you only get out of it what you put in' is applicable in coaching sessions. The coach has expectations of the client in order to build a professional relationship and work together before, during and after the process.
Executive coaching can range in cost depending on the coaches experience, qualifications, the services offered and the seniority of the client.
The fees vary from £500 to £1475 for a two-hour session, with a mean average of £1110.
Working with C-level executives commonly requires a more educated coach who is more in demand, and requires them to spend more time familiarizing themselves with various aspects of the client’s company to tailor their support. These executives also tend to be more limited in when they can meet with the coach, placing greater demands on the coach’s schedule and flexibility.
At Credible Coach, we vet every coach and personally speak to their previous clients to ensure that their testimonials are detailed and can be trusted. Due to the personal and confidential nature of coaching, most senior clients won’t want to go “on the record”. Our promise is that every anonymous testimonial on a coaches page is authentic and can be trusted. To get your free custom coach match, click here
Although business structure varies, it is likely that you will have a number of key leaders within your business and particularly looking more closely to the position of CEO, there will be an executive team that has an unfaltering and direct impact on a number of business areas. Having the right people in place is essential to drive your businesses success.
You may be at a critical point within your company's journey and seeking to ensure that your executive team is ready for the challenge, or looking at your succession planning options and inwardly evaluating the promotion and retention of key hires. A study by Deloitte showed that 86% of leaders believe leadership succession planning is an ‘urgent’ or ‘important’ priority but only 14% believe they do it well.
In discussions to ensure that employees are supported and in the right place, coaching may be an avenue you are open to exploring. The question arises, should you look at executive coaching for a number of employees or seek to bring in a business coach?
Executive coaching works with your employees and can be utilised for a number of reasons; not limited to getting past an impasse, removing a stumbling block or drawing out and building on strengths. Executive coaching will also cover leadership coaching as part of the overall coaching process and can, therefore, be useful for senior leaders as well as an executive.
Executive coaching can be approached on a one-to-one basis or a group setting and for this reason, an executive coach can be hired by both an individual or a company. However, if the organisation, executive and the executive coach work in partnership, this will help achieve maximum impact.
Business coaching is best suited to working with the Managing Director, Owner or Senior Executive in order to better-set goals, improve decision making, reach goals faster and enhance relationships - it will also incorporate leadership coaching for marked management progression.
Both executive coaching and business coaching can have a positive impact on your company. When looking to invest in executive coaching it is important to take a step back, identify what your true needs are in order to get the most out of the experience and choose the right type of coaching for your company. It is essential to define the process and key goals throughout as this will enable both the organisation and coaches to evaluate the outcomes and adjust accordingly. Studies have shown that executive coaching can be effective at reducing procrastination and facilitating goal attainment -overall, coaching will help a number of areas across the organisation.
As more companies have a flatter structural hierarchy there is a larger leap to C-Suite or other executive positions, meaning that those stepping into those leadership roles are doing so earlier than their predecessors and with less experience. Consequently, leaders with the required capability, mindset and experience are in limited supply. It is therefore pertinent that those stepping into such positions are supported to deliver personal and company success.
To develop the next generation of leaders it is important to support the individual's transitional process into an effective leader from their current position. It has been found that if an individual has a sense of optimism and can monitor and manage their outlook and self-awareness this transition will be smoother. Executive coaching can provide leaders with the tools to manage this effectively and often even senior and experienced individuals experience difficulties and unrest in their roles, therefore helping everyone to learn and benefit.
From a broader organisational perspective, executive coaching can help to retain staff as those that receive coaching are far more likely to be promoted or accelerated within their chosen career than those who have not received one-to-one coaching. With this said, do bear in mind that coaching affects each individual differently and sometimes people can choose to seek different career opportunities or professional pursuits.
High potentials and high performers are often confused; 'high performers' produce excellent work but they can lack the desire and sometimes the ability to hold a leadership position. Whereas 'high potential' individuals have the aptitude, ability and desire for successive leadership within a company - these individuals will likely have the ability to lead and build teams that can outperform competitors.
Whatever size your company, it is important to have a good understanding of the type of leaders you want and need both today and in the future.
Our top tips:
The Institute of Coaching has said that over 70% of those that receive coaching showed an improved work performance and better communication skills, with 86% of companies stating that they feel they gained their investment back and more. As a more general view, studies have shown that when measured at the firm level, leadership development seems to pay off which is consistent with longstanding research.
The money spent on developing leaders is less influential than the time invested. A study has shown that the hours invested in development have a greater relationship to business and financial outcomes. When it comes to people-orientated investments most will look to understand if the return on investment (ROI) is worth it and many have questioned whether it is sensible to use ROI to evaluate the impact of a coach.
ROI can be impacted by a number of factors outside of the coachee's control, which can make it hard to identify the exact impact of coaching. As ROI is calculated retrospectively and is subjective there will likely be a variance in results that will also be subject to cognitive bias.
On an individual basis, an unbiased method is to examine the degree to which the coaching objective was achieved. To find this bottom line, you can evaluate a number of indicators, such as the coachee practising with the tools taught and them identifying their own progress. It is also advisable to conduct 360 reviews showing sustained behavioural changes, this will give excellent insights into changes surrounding communication and will highlight whether any additional sessions could be of use.
When investing in executive coaching, it is essential that the individual invests time into the process; if this is a resource provided by the company, any help to fit this around the individual's work will make the process easier and will also allow them to make the most of the time and resources that are given by the coach. For example, often a coach will give the coachee homework so it is important to factor this in to ensure full engagement with the coaching sessions and for you to get the best return on investment.
By ensuring you have the right coach and are lined up on the goals you’re working to achieve you will feel the impact and gain more than you invested initially.
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. For more information on life coaching, read our article 'What is Life Coaching?'.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Most often executive coaches are hired to help C-suite, VP’s and other executives to support in setting, following and achieving goals. These goals comprise of personal goals focusing on happiness, work-life balance, increasing productivity, developing leadership skills, managing staff and improving communication. They will also focus on supporting short and long term organisational goals.
Executive coaching can be done on a one-on-one basis or a group setting and executive coaches can be hired by an individual or business. If the organisation, executive, and the executive coach work in partnership this will help to achieve maximum impact - for further detail and insight into Executive Coaching, read our article 'What is Executive Coaching?'
Executive coaching provides a healthy balance of support and challenge, whereby executives will be stretched but only as far as they’re comfortably able. This will help executives to perform at their highest potential without feeling overwhelmed or stressed. A study by Perkins (2009) has shown that effective coaching will increase an individual's rating on their productivity, leadership effectiveness and overall leadership, thus increasing self-awareness.
Executive coaching will challenge the executive to define a number of goals at the start of the process, these goals will have both long and short term focuses and will be challenging to achieve. An executive coach will help to keep the individual engaged and excited about achieving those goals and will also support in bringing the whole team together on the journey.
As executives are trying to fit a great deal into their day, most will fall into habits where they are being subjective rather than objective. With an executive coach supporting and facilitating the process executives will be able to see the company through a number of different perspectives allowing for greater clarity. This newfound insight will allow them to ensure they are focusing their time in the right areas. Executive coaches can offer a fresh perspective to old and new problems and in turn, help give the individual and the company the support to drive through any workplace changes that need to be made.
Smither et al (2003) looked at the effectiveness of executive coaching through tracking more than a thousand senior managers over a two-year period. This study showed that those who received executive coaching had more positive feedback from their colleagues and team and typically experienced an increase in those sharing ideas on how to improve, amongst other useful feedback.
For most executives, especially CEO's the top of a companies hierarchy, it can be quite a lonely space with a limited number of peers that they can have a conversation with as this may result in discussing confidential issues. Working with an executive coach will provide a confidential thinking space and will allow executives to discuss all matters openly. In addition, this will enable them to be able to work through any problems and set short and long term goals that are in line with both their personal aims and those of the company.
Executive coaching is a great way to nurture and support high performers as they accelerate through their careers, in our article 'When to invest in executive coaching and how to select high potential talent?', we discuss how to identify high performers and the way to best measure their return on investment.
Whilst executive coaching can provide huge benefits to an individual and the business, as with all coaching it is imperative to understand that when entering into this process it is not going to solve what might be management issues. If an individual is underperforming this can’t simply be offloaded to a coach in the hope that they will fix any and all problems.
The coach requires time to gain a good understanding of the company culture and key internal players and any good coaching relationship is built through a number of sessions whereby coaches will have tools in place to help them build and retain this information quickly.
It is important that anyone entering into this process is both coachable and open to change and achieving new heights. When looking into executive coaching, or any coaching for that matter, it is important to note that a coach can't and won't coach any psychological issues that underpin a person's behaviour - anything that falls into this category should be addressed by a therapist. An article by the Harvard Business Review outlines the damaging effect of trying to coach a leader that has narcissistic tendencies and how coaching this type of person has heightened some of their negative behaviours.
There are no easy answers, as an executive coach won't give the coachee advice, this will be a journey to identify the answers they or the business are looking for. When considering coaching it is always important to remember that, as mentioned above, coaches don't give advice. If that is what you are truly looking for then you may want to consider finding a mentor or bringing in a business consultant.
The quality and approach of executive coaches can differ, it would be advisable to have a number of 'chemistry calls' to find and match the right coach for the coachee and the business. Credible Coach is an independent review site that offers verified reviews from clients that have undergone coaching and it is a great way to assess the quality of the coach you are considering hiring.
It is important to note that the coaching process may be so life-changing that an individual could consider leaving the business and pursue a new career.
Business coaches will be experts within their field and therefore will be able to use their insights and give hands-on knowledge that could support you in making changes to allow your business to stay competitive and reach new levels of success. With your coach understanding the business at a deeper level, one-on-one business coaching can be really effective as they are also likely to have a number of relevant contacts that could be of support. Some business coaches may be entrepreneurs or seasoned business leaders that have undergone training and moved into coaching to share their knowledge and help leaders implement strategies that assist the CEO or owner in achieving their goals and vision. Business coaching can, in turn, be of great use to business owners who need some outside guidance on reaching the next level with their company.
Both Executive Coaching and Business Coaching will touch on leadership coaching and it can be considered a subsection of both. Leadership coaching tends to fall into two main categories; developmental coaching and coaching to resolve problems or risks. Leadership coaching can support the coachee on becoming more mindful, inspirational and impactful within their communications.
Companies have said that a business coach can be like having a highly experienced team member with the value they bring being priceless.
Those that receive business coaching see the same effects of an executive coach in terms of levels of increased internal feedback, creating open forums and gaining different and greatly beneficial perspectives from other leaders.
However, a business coach will help you identify which aspects of your leadership role that requires the most focus, and which can be delegated. By having oversight of all operations you will be able to drill into the detail on occasions, but you will be able to lead more strategically as you will have a greater amount of time to focus on other areas.Business coaching supports these skills, so as you can set the vision for your organisation, prioritise goals for success and implement change without resourcing expensive consultants.
Some leaders will have high levels of confidence whereas some leaders may need to learn how to exhibit this, after all leading a company is challenging and will come with highs and lows - even the most confident people may experience moments when they don't feel as self-assured as they would like. A business coach will help you recognise your own strengths, abilities and skills as well as give you tools to navigate these tougher moments. This can do wonders for your self-confidence and for your business and it has been shown confident leaders hire people better than themselves!
Often those working around senior leaders will become compliant and be reluctant to express disagreement in an aim to avoid friction and keep people onside. A business coach will be very honest and will highlight any negative behaviours as well as challenging any potential ideas. They will be able to support the transition to open communication within the company in a way which ensures people can share the good and the bad honestly.
A business coach will challenge your business acumen, you will gain a better understanding of decisions that may be reckless and which are founded on decisions based on evidence. Using experience gained over a number of years they will use their insights to help shape the way decisions are made.
When leading a business for a number of years or whilst maintaining the same position in a company it is easy to fall into a stagnant mindset and continue to do business in the way you always have. A business coach will offer a fresh perspective which can bring new levels of innovation and energy.
Some business coaches will support your network to find like-minded senior executives and external peer groups in similar positions. Many view networking as a major leadership tool, however, good networking takes skill, a business coach can support you to get the most out of a networking event to help both you and your organisation.
Coaches don't give advice and in some circumstances, a business consultant may be of more value. A business consultant will provide professional advice on how to tackle certain business areas such as management, strategy, operations, HR, IT and marketing.
It is important to ensure the coach has a balanced relationship with the CEO or business owners, whilst a coach doesn't give advice they will have a strong relationship with the coachee and could steer them in a different direction to what is wanted or expected.
Finding the right coach is key. You need to source someone that you personally gel with and someone you can be open and vulnerable with whilst discussing professional matters. As most business coaches will have a broad and in-depth industry knowledge, it is important to feel that their experience is aligned with your needs. Investing in the wrong coach can have detrimental effects and as with an executive coach, the quality and approach of business coaches differ. Before starting a coaching engagement, we recommend finding a business coach that is well-reviewed and proceeding with a number of chemistry calls to ensure that you are confident with your decision before entering the process.
Both Executive and Business coaching can have an incredibly positive impact on your professional and personal situation, they will both enhance your leadership skills and provide a different perspective on the challenges faced within your company. As with any new process focusing on yourself or work goals, it is essential to define what you want the process to look like and what your key goals are. This will enable you, the organisation and the coach to evaluate the outcomes and adjust accordingly. It will also give you a great indication of how you are tracking to complete them by the end of the process.
The personal development achieved through having either type of coach will be noticeable and tangible, most assert that one of the best outcomes is finding a better work-life balance. Business coaching is likely to be a better fit for business owners as it also comes with key industry insights and knowledge. Coaching executive talent can be hugely beneficial and will have a strong impact on the leaders of a business, often individuals share the personal lesson and gains that the coach has provided and thus encourage others to seek their own personal coach.
When considering a coach, it is always important to identify your true needs and therefore ensure you find the right type of coach and the right coach for the job.