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Top 10 Questions about Executive Coaching

In this post, we will take a look at some of the top questions I have gotten regarding coaching. Not an exhaustive list by any means! Please add additional questions and comments below, and keep the discussion going.

What is executive coaching?

What are the benefits of executive coaching?

How does executive coaching work?

What makes a successful executive coach?

Who can benefit from executive coaching?

What should I expect from an executive coaching session?

How long should I commit to working with an executive coach?

How much does an executive coaching program cost?

How do I choose the right coach for my needs?

What tools and techniques do coaches use in their sessions?

What is Executive Coaching? 

Executive coaching is a type of professional development in which an individualized program is designed to help individuals develop the skills and behaviours necessary for success. Often, there is a misconception that coaching is reserved for executives and high-level managers, when in fact any individual can benefit. Executive coaches can provide feedback and guidance on how best to move through various challenges and create plans for personal and professional growth. More importantly, coaches enter the conversations believing the client is capable, and have the capacity and ability to find a path forward. They do this by approaching each conversation from a place of curiosity. This means the session is much more than giving advice and sharing experiences. Through executive coaching, individuals are encouraged to become more self-aware, take ownership over their actions, explore their potential, and become better leaders. 

What are the Benefits of Executive Coaching? 

There are many benefits, and here are some of the most impactful ones: 

  1. Developing self-awareness and understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses. 
  2. Fostering improved communication skills, both within an organization and external networks. 
  3. Helping to develop better decision-making abilities and problem-solving capabilities. 
  4. Facilitating a greater sense of confidence while developing leadership qualities. 
  5. Increasing job satisfaction and career development opportunities by improving performance at the office. 
  6. Enhancing individual productivity levels through increased focus on goal setting and time management techniques. 
  7. Helping to create an atmosphere of collaboration among team members that promotes creativity, innovation, and success in business endeavours. 

How does Executive Coaching work? 

Executive coaching typically begins with an initial meeting or series of meetings between a coach and a client. During this time, the coach and client are developing a rapport and dynamic about how they will work together, objectives, and more. Through these sessions, they get to know each other, and the client can shed light on themselves, their skills, challenges, and goals, and give a holistic view of who they are and where they would like to go. They will work together to create a path forward as the client gets more clarity about where they want to go, and how they want to get there. This plan may address personal characteristics such as communication skills, decision-making processes, goal setting ability, and more. 

Typically, the executive coaching process consists of regular conversations in which the client and coach discuss progress and adjust the plan when needed. The duration and frequency of these conversations is determined by the coach and client and will vary depending on the client’s needs. Depending on the plan’s objectives and degree of complexity, sessions may be conducted in person or via phone or video conferencing. As part of this process, coaches provide feedback on current performance levels while offering encouragement and support to move forward towards desired results. 

What makes a successful Executive Coach? 

There are many points of view on this question. Some will say the coach drives the development of a plan to guide a client to their goals. Others will say the client needs to develop that plan themselves. Some will say that a coach needs familiarity with the client’s field of expertise to support them, while others say this is not necessary. We could go on about the various views and approaches to coaching. 

From my perspective, successful Executive Coaching conversations involve effective communication techniques, such as active listening, allowing space for reflection and self-discovery, setting clear objectives and boundaries, and providing both support and challenge. It also involves creating a trusting environment that enables open dialogue and encourages honest reflection. Questions should be open-ended to allow for exploration of deeper issues, while the coach should help the client identify key objectives to focus on during the session. Additionally, successful coach-client relationships are based on mutual respect, empathy, confidentiality, and commitment. 

And most importantly, CURIOSITY. A coach comes into a conversation from a place of curiosity and encourages their client to approach their questions, opportunities, decisions, challenges, etc. from a place of curiosity too. What can we learn if we step back and explore this situation from many perspectives and points of view? 

Who can benefit from Executive Coaching? 

Executive coaching can benefit a wide range of professionals, from C-level executives to middle managers or entrepreneurs. And – it is not limited to professionals. Every one of us can benefit from the coaching process. It is a powerful tool that can help develop skills and reach goals. People who are looking for guidance in their career development, those who need to adjust their management style or improve team dynamics, or anyone in a situation where they are facing unique challenges and need an outside perspective can benefit. Executive coaching is also useful for boosting confidence and sharpening decision-making abilities; this is especially beneficial for high-pressure careers such as corporate leadership roles. Often, as we become more senior in organizations, there are less opportunities to receive feedback, explore ideas, and work through challenges and opportunities. Coaching provides a safe, confidential space to do this, and more.

What should I expect from an Executive Coaching Session? 

Executive coaching sessions offer the opportunity to identify goals, create a plan for achieving them, and adjust, as necessary. Throughout the session, the coach will ask questions to help you explore, draw on your own experiences, and sometimes share some of their experiences and perspectives as you figure out what works best for your specific situation. You can expect an executive coaching session to provide an open dialogue, a safe space for asking questions, thought-provoking challenges that encourage growth, helpful resources and tools tailored to your needs, deep reflection on successes and failures, reflection on progress made throughout the process, and honest feedback to help guide future decisions. 

How long should I commit to working with an Executive Coach? 

The frequency and duration of executive coaching sessions will depend on the individual’s specific goals and needs. Generally, working with a coach for at least 3-6 months can give you enough time to identify what is holding you back from achieving your goals, develop strategies to overcome those challenges, and create a plan for sustaining progress. However, there is no set timeline; some individuals may need more time, while others may be able to reach their desired results in less time. It depends on your objectives and the degree of support you need from the executive coach. In my experience, clients initially work with me more frequently, and as they progress in their goals, the frequency reduces. The reality is that much of the work happens between coaching sessions, and clients who act on their goals and hold themselves accountable tend to see the biggest impact. 

How much does an executive coaching program cost? 

The cost of executive coaching programs varies depending on the individual’s specific needs, the number of sessions required, and the length of time you plan to work with a coach. Some clients choose to go session by session, while others will invest in a program over a period. Programs typically range from $1000-$6,000 for three to twelve months. Many coaches also offer free initial consultations and flexible payment plans to make their services accessible for everyone. 

How do I choose the right coach for my needs? 

Choosing the right coach is essential to ensure that you get the most out of your coaching sessions. The two main factors to consider when choosing a coach are their experience and qualifications. A common benchmark is that the coach is certified, either through ICF (International Coaching Federation) (https://coachingfederation.org/ ), EMCC ( https://www.emccglobal.org/ ), or both. Make sure they have a record of accomplishment in helping people reach their desired outcomes, as well as skills and expertise that are relevant to your goals. It is common to have a meet-and-greet with a few coaches to determine initial fit. In these initial discussions, look for a personality fit; it is important to find someone with whom you can build a strong rapport. If possible, ask for references from previous clients or contacts who have worked with them. Finally, consider the organization of things like availability, location, and cost. Research your options carefully before deciding to ensure you choose a coach who can help you reach your objectives.  

And most importantly, if it is not working, discuss this with your coach. It is critical that you are getting value out of the relationship. Often, you and your coach can explore what that means and adjust. And it is also ok for you to choose to move on to another coach.  

What tools and techniques do coaches use in their sessions? 

Coaching sessions employ a variety of tools and techniques to help you reach your goals. These might include creating action plans, giving feedback, providing accountability, setting performance standards, introducing innovative problem-solving methods, exploring alternative perspectives, and brainstorming. Coaches also use assessments such as personality tests and 360° reviews to gain further insights into their clients’ strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, they often provide resources like books and articles that can be used to supplement the coaching experience. The key is your coach will meet you where you are and create a space for you to explore the best way forward for you, adapting their approach, tools, and resources to best meet your needs. 

Final Thoughts

Coaching can be a powerful tool as we work to become more effective, both personally and professionally. There are many types of coaches, often with a specific niche or area of focus. In my coaching practice, the focus is on leadership development, individual effectiveness, and team effectiveness. Through a combination of individual and team coaching, I have seen the impact coaching can have, and the possibilities when leaders commit time and space to growth and development.

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