• Jeff Doolittle

What is Executive Coaching?


What is executive coaching?

The need for executive leadership development has never been more urgent. The pressures of globalization are immense, and leaders are facing many new challenges. If executives are not continuously developing, they are falling behind. So, how is an executive to effectively grow in today's turbulent digital environment?


In an extensive quantitative study by Stanley Black & Decker, the Sasha Corporation found that executives receiving coaching increased goal performance by 15% compared to executives not receiving coaching. Some of the most admired companies in the Fortune 100 contribute to the $1 billion executive coaching industry. The broad support for executive coaching and the effectiveness is undeniable; however, it may not be familiar to you.


Executive Coaching Defined


If you ask five different people to define executive coaching, you will likely get five different definitions. However, before discussing the definition of executive coaching, it is helpful to understand what is coaching. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching "as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential." Coaching focuses on moving toward a client's future, assessing where they are currently, their goals for the future, and exploring and discovering the steps to get to their desired future. The ultimate goal of coaching is change (e.g., behavioral, attitudinal, or motivational). Executive coaching is a focused and purposeful process that helps executives develop and experience a positive transformation in life and leadership. The executive coach-client relationship is grounded in trust, transparency, and confidentiality. While the coach and client are the primary stakeholders, the executive's sponsoring organization is often an additional formal or informal stakeholder.


What Executive Coaching is Not


Executive coaching is not counseling or mentoring. Counseling deals with past or current trauma, mental health, and symptoms, with the goal to restore emotional wellness. Executive coaching focuses on the future and not the client's history. A mentor, unlike a coach, sets the agenda for their client using their experiences to guide the relationship. While that approach can be helpful in reality, we are all created with different strengths and backgrounds. A coach draws out the executive's desire and works to co-create options to achieve the executive's goals with individual and organizational benefits.


In addition to executive coaching, there are several other popular types of coaching within the field:

  • Career Coaching is focused on accelerating your career. Most of us go through day-to-day life, giving more thought to what we will wear each day than our jobs. The coaching focuses on developing and implementing a plan of action to give your career a boost. Career coaching keeps you feeling challenged versus being worried about what's next. Additionally, a coach increases your blind spot awareness. We all have blind spots. A good career coach helps you avoid jeopardizing current and future potential career opportunities because of blind spots.

  • Emotional Intelligence Coaching is focused on helping the client become more self-aware and more effective in relationships. This type of coaching typically involves temperament and personality profiles to pinion where development should be focused.

  • Leadership Coaching helps individuals grow their leadership confidence and competence regardless if they are an emerging leader, frontline leader, mid-level manager, executive, or c-suite leader. Typically leadership coaching includes the use of a 360-degree assessment to improve feedback and awareness for the client.


Who typically hires an executive coach?


Individual executives and organizations hire executive coaches to achieve meaningful individual and organizational results. The client could be an executive in transition, facing new challenges, or seeking to maximize potential. Hiring an executive coach is a good fit when an executive is looking to accelerate their career, shift their mindset, or live their life to the fullest.