What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching is for senior managers, executives and directors who are looking for coaching and mentoring outside their own organisation. There are many benefits to such coaching. The more senior a position, the harder it can be to find someone to confide in (especially that you do not have to relate to within the business). Using an external coach provides a safe environment to explore new and even risky ideas, to discuss personal development, leadership training, strategic planning and even sensitive management issues in confidence. The GWiz Learning Partnership can provide coaches to senior officers at all levels.
Executive coaching should not be confused with counselling where the focus is
therapeutic. In executive coaching the approach is:
- Action centred and solution focused.
- Goal orientated.
- Facilitated professional and personal development.
- Aimed at increased performance in the area of interpersonal skills professionally.
- To set agreed boundaries on subject matter with the emphasis on the work place.
Executive coaching is intended to provide senior people with the type of development
not always available to them in the training room. The coaching relationship works as
a learning alliance between equals. It should be viewed as a development tool
providing leaders with an opportunity to model to their staff how important continuous
improvement is to the health of the organisation. The ideas and models discussed can
often be passed on to staff by the executive providing a useful source of cascade
The Role of the Executive Coach
Many people are familiar with the role of the traditional mentor. The traditional mentor
is usually someone highly experienced in a given field who passes this experience on
to less experienced people in the same field. This type of mentoring can be invaluable.
So how does the executive coach differ? An executive coach brings knowledge,
experience and skill from the interpersonal field. Their expertise is in helping
individuals to understand what motivates behaviour in self and others. They facilitate
the development of strategies for handling poor performance, conflict resolution, team
building, leadership and motivation.
Although the executive coach is not likely to have knowledge of your field of expertise
the coach can still provide a “sounding board” and help leaders to crystallise their
How is this done? The executive coach will facilitate the setting of goals and objectives,
(short, medium and long term), helping individuals to clarify the current situation. The
executive coach and the executive will agree a style of interaction that may involve
challenge, feed back, behavioural questionnaires, strategy building and the sharing of
models and ideas.
How do the Coaching Sessions Work?
The First Session
The first session will typically last about two hours. During this time the executive
coach and the executive will agree a contract for working together. The executive
coach will email or post a basic contract to the executive to outline the areas that need
to be agreed. This saves time at the first session. This contract will include:
- Procedural – this relates to all the administrative details such as number of sessions, timekeeping, note taking, filing systems, contact arrangements.
- Professional – this relates to competencies both in terms of what does the executive coach bring and what does the executive wish to develop in themselves.
- Purpose – what is our purpose, goal, objective? The setting of measurable short, medium and long term goals with time frames and milestones.
- Personal – how will we relate to each other? This includes the level of challenge required, feed back, confidentiality, boundaries etc.
- Psychological – what are the unspoken issues? Bringing to light of any issues that may effect the coaching relationship not otherwise covered.
- Personal Development – how does the executive coaching support the individual development needs of the executive?
The second phase of the first session will usually involves scene setting, with the
executive clarifying his or her role in the organisation and identifying the focus areas.
Phase three is the initial goal setting and strategy planning. Goals are set and recorded
including measurable milestones. Actions and outcomes are explored with the
executive leaving their first session ready to test out new ideas. Executives are busy
people so action and strategy plans are designed to dove tail in with existing work not
create new work.
We would recommend three to six sessions in the first six months to establish the
working relationship between the executive coach and the executive. This will allow
both parties to monitor progress and for the executive to become familiar with
common coaching tools used in the sessions. Sessions after this period can either be
scheduled regularly or take the form of trouble shooting consultations booked as and