What is Executive Coaching?

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching is a formal engagement in which a qualified coach works with an organizational leader in a series of dynamic, confidential sessions designed to establish and achieve clear goals that will result in improved managerial performance.

The relationship between a manager and a coach is different from other kinds of professional relationships. For example, a coaching relationship focuses on enhancing performance while a mentoring relationship usually has broader objectives. An executive coach is more involved in execution and outcome assessment than the typical consultant. A coach isn’t an authority figure.

Coaching refers to the managerial activity of creating, by communication only, the climate, environment, and context that empowers individuals and teams to generate results.
Coaching captures the essence of the art of management in a way which enables people to shift their thinking from a traditional paradigm of control and order to a paradigm designed for empowering and enabling people in action. Coaching is a means of creating true partnerships, not only between managers and employees, but also between all interdependent work relations in an organization. Coaching relationships can accomplish more than could have been imagined from within the constraints of the traditional paradigm.

How does Coaching work?

A simplified overview.

Generally speaking, the knowledge of the universe can be distributed into three broad categories: what you know, what you know you don’t know, and what you don’t know you don’t know. Normally, we only have access to the first two categories: what we know and what we know we don’t know. And for business-as-usual, that’s all we usually need.

The catch is, moving beyond business-as-usual, getting to breakthroughs, requires us to move into the “what we don’t know we don’t know” arena. So how do you get at what you don’t know you don’t know? Generally the way most people come into awareness of that third category is when there’s a breakdown of some kind. Getting a flat tire can make you acutely aware of what you don’t know you don’t know about changing tires.

Another way you can have access to what you don’t know you don’t know is through your relationship with someone who is as committed as you are to your commitments, but who stands outside your perceptual box — in other words, a coach.
If you pay close attention to all your speaking and listening, to your internal and external conversations, you’ll hear a lot of implicit and explicit assumptions about “the way the world is”, about what is and isn’t possible. What frequently happens in life is that we forget that these conversations are simply interpretations. They become, instead, the limiting beliefs that shape our perceptual boxes.

Because a coach’s vision is not constrained by the same set of limiting beliefs as yours, the coach can enable you to see the possibilities outside your box that you would not otherwise be able to see. And, what the coach enables you to see can make an enormous difference in your ability to achieve the breakthrough results you’re committed to achieving.

Without coaching, you have no way of knowing what’s outside your box, other than through breakdowns. The level of results achievable remains constrained by the way you habitually interpret things; by what you don’t know you don’t know. Coaching makes possible the reinterpreting of events so that a quantum shift, or breakthrough, in results can naturally occur.

At the heart of coaching is the coaching relationship. Together, the coach and the player are committed to a partnership that is dedicated toward significant improvement — a breakthrough – in results. The player produces the result, but the level and quality of the result is generated out of the partnership with the coach. The player’s performance is modified through the communication, the speaking and listening, that takes place within that partnership.

Essential Elements of Coaching

  1. Willingness to go beyond what’s already been achieved

  2. Partnership, mutuality, relationship

  3. Commitment to producing a result and enacting a vision

  4. Compassion, sense of humanity, non-judgemental acceptance, love

  5. Communication (speaking-and-listening) for action

  6. Responsiveness to the coach’s interpretation

  7. Honouring the uniqueness of each player, relationship, and situation

  8. Practice and preparation

  9. Giving-and-receiving

  10. “team” sensitivity

What will Coaching Help Me Achieve?

  • Help Clarify Values and Important Goals

    Most people don’t have the slightest idea about what they want to do with their lives. Many times they select their values from a list of worthy sounding ideals. And their goals tend to be vague and/or seemingly unattainable. Sadly, this is a common problem for most people based careers. 

    Good professional coaches are trained to help a person understand what really matters in his (her) life. They can help clarify values and then make sure they’re in harmony with a person’s core desires. It’s the first major step for getting a life on track and it’s the first major role of a good coach.

  • Address Derailers in your Leadership Style and Practice

    Even the most effective leaders are not 100% effective in all aspects of their leadership. “Derailers” can be one or more dimensions of leadership that can literally derail the intended outcome or result in a project work activity or a culture. Often, but not always, derailers involve challenges relating with others. Coaching allows us to address the derailers and successfully resolve them.

  • Provide Extreme Personal Care

    Coaching is a safe place for a people to be. It’s a place where injustices, fears, frustrations and anger can be vented…It’s a place where dreams, fantasies and hopes surface…and are openly discussed. It’s a place where confidentiality is of the highest order. It’s a place where someone can be herself without fear of sounding weak, insecure or scared. The coaching relationship is also a place where truth is king. The coach has no vested interest in the relationship other than helping the client have every advantage possible to lead the kind of life she wants for herself and her family.

  • Work on the WHOLE Person

    There is more to having a successful life than just making money. A person needs balance. It’s possible to be hugely successful in terms of a career and still be miserable most of the time. For example, people who work all of the time making money often will neglect their health, their spiritual life, and recreational activities. They will neglect their family, friends, and loved ones in lieu of a successful business career. By examining a person’s whole life, a coach can identify where that person is out of balance and then help him take manageable steps towards having a well-rounded life. Many corporate business executives are attracted to hiring a personal coach for these very reasons.

  • Uncover Natural Talents and Gifts

    A good coach can motivate people to do something they didn’t know they were capable of doing. By having a natural curiosity about what makes people tick and utilizing special coaching tools, professional coaches are able to uncover talents, abilities and gifts that many people don’t even know they have. It can be a truly enlightening experience for a person to go through this discovery with their coach.

  • Craft Action Plans

    What good are values and goals without a good action plan? The best action plans are the ones where the person has complete “free will” to choose a path that is comfortable for him (her). The coach simply finds out what the client wants to accomplish and then helps them to take action. Motivation is much more likely to occur when there is no pressure or “shoulds” in a relationship like this. But the coach is no fool. Forward action or a deep learning experience must always take place to make the coaching experience worthwhile. A coach just simply makes this whole process a little easier.

  • Provide Accountability

    A key ingredient for a successful coaching relationship is for the person to be accountable for the things that he says he will do. However, there are no judgments, disappointments or guilt trips laid on the client in the event of non-action, but there is accountability. The client must let the coach know what he did (or did not do) from each coaching session to the next.

  • Eliminate the Energy Drains

    What are you tolerating in your life that you wish was not there, but it’s not a big enough deal to make an issue out of it? Are you tolerating a cluttered desk? Are you tolerating that hubcap that needs replacing? Are you allowing people to invade your space and time and infringe on your personal boundaries? Are you tolerating something from a significant other that is silently having an adverse affect on the relationship? When coaches make this request, most people can come up with a list of a hundred or more tolerations that have been eating away at them over a period of time. Coaches are all too familiar with how they sap the energy right out of a person’s life, energy that could be used to build a business or fulfill a life. Coaches use special tools early in the relationship to systematically eliminate things their clients tolerate.

  • Prevent Relapse

    When a person cannot get the support that is needed to build his (her) business, it’s very easy to let things slide and not get them done. It’s also possible to allow the many distractions that happen every day to bring us down. It’s sad that this is the way it is sometimes…but it’s true. A coach’s role is to be there for their clients in a supportive environment. That’s what they get paid for. Most professional coaches even allow E-mail and telephone support in between coaching sessions that further deepen the relationship. Many people careers report that the relationship between their coaches and themselves becomes so meaningful that they look to their coaching calls as one of the main highlights of their week.

  • Have a Business Sounding Board and Mentor

    How would you like to have a business mentor, committed listener and sounding board for your business that makes this promise to you: “As your coach, we have a special relationship where I help you get very clear on your goals and then together, we craft an action plan that systematically gets you into manageable action steps. As you take these action steps you bring more balance into your life so that every aspect of your life is enhanced. Each week I will hold you accountable for those action steps, but without any judgment whatsoever, if you don’t do the things you say you will do. I am your silent business partner who is dedicated to your success but where you get to keep all of the profits.”

  • Coaches Help Their Clients Become Coaches

    In people, it’s our job to coach our sales organizations. One of the great benefits about being coached by a professional coach is that we learn from them how to coach others. The tools and skills that most coaches use are mostly skills that we already know from our life experiences and people training. A good coaching program teaches us how to use those skills and enhance them to a powerful and even professional level.

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