An executive coach is a highly skilled and experienced expert who provides individualized development coaching to executives, senior business leaders, and top talent that builds upon their capabilities to achieve personal and organizational goals.
Typically, an executive coach will partner with a leader over the course of 6-12 months in one-to-one bi-weekly meetings, focusing on 1-2 development areas, that if improved upon or accelerated, will have valued impact for the leader and his/her company. The areas might encompass a strength the leader would like to expand upon or they might encompass a weakness the leader would like to improve upon. Most often these two areas address specific leadership competencies – the skills, knowledge and behaviors that will enable the executive to be successful in his/her role. To enable long term success, the coaching will revolve much more around a leader’s ability to influence, motivate and lead others than around tactical problem solving or functional skills.
To initiate a successful coaching engagement an executive coach will most likely meet with the leader, the leader’s manager, and the leader’s HR business partner. Together they will determine the focus of the coaching, the roles each individual will play, and the measures of success. They will also agree upon how they will manage confidentiality and communications so that they can all contribute effectively to the development process.
Executive Coaching Tools & Processes
As part of the coaching process, an executive coach will tap into a variety of processes and tools to enable learning for the leader. Those processes and tools will likely include a customized blend of the following:
- Data collection from multiple sources and perspectives
- Interviews with key stakeholders
- Various Assessments such as…
- 360 Feedback
- Emotional Intelligence
- Role plays to practice new skills and behaviors
- Robust development plan with a combination of on-the-job activities, relationship-based activities, and education-based activities (training, books, videos, etc.)
- Assignments between coaching meetings to practice new skills and behaviors
- Exploration and analysis of current challenges and opportunities as a leader
Throughout the coaching process, an executive coach will serve as a sounding board to the leader. In planned coaching meetings and in impromptu emails and phone calls, he/she will partner to explore challenges, opportunities, and scenarios which help the leader to learn and build upon their leadership capabilities. A coach will encourage new ways of thinking and acting that can be generalized to other situations and roles; he/she will emphasize “learning how to learn” and developing skills and habits of self-reflection that ensure that learning will continue after coaching ends.
Leveraging these talents of an experienced executive coach can make a lasting difference for a leader and his/her organization. The coaching process can transform executives from “good to great” and enable them to take on ever increasing complexity, scale, and scope for the company.