Coaching // Featured

The Who, What, When, Where, How and Why of Executive Coaching

When considering the idea 'do I need an executive coach', many employees and employers have more questions than answers. While it seems like a big risk to hire a coach, the benefits of a good coaching relationship far outweigh the risks associated with bringing in someone into your business to help you innovate and create better business systems.

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With an understanding of the risks you face, I will endeavor to explain many of the questions regarding executive coaching so that you are able to assess coaches and their programs and choose the best one for your position and business.

Who Needs and Who Provides Executive Coaching?

An executive coach is often hired by an employer or manager for an employee under them in order to meet certain goals. These goals are selected before an executive coach is and are essential to answering the "who" questions. 

An executive coach is often an individual who has a measure of success in business in general and in the specific area an employee wants help in. Because coaching is selected to meet certain goals or KPIs, a coach does not need to be an expert in everything or even more knowledgeable about the client's industry than the client. They do need to provide more information and experience in the area they are coaching. 

The individual who needs coaching is usually an employee looking to change a position in the company or increase their business's goals and capabilities. As such, the client is usually selected by their manager, the business's owner, or the board of directors for the business. After determining to get a coach and the reasons to get one, a coach is selected who provides a unique viewpoint, high value to the project at hand, and good rapport with the client. 

When Does Executive Coaching Happen?

Executive coaching is a process and like most processes, it takes a period of time to be successful. For this reason, executive coaches work with their clients in timed sessions (an hour or so) and over a period of time ranging from weeks to months.

Executive coaching, therefore, has the time necessary to work on creating new processes and managing the employee's targeted goals. This facilitates creating a positive system of setting goals, engaging in activities in accordance with the coaching, and then correcting the goals after reviewing the success of the activities. 

What Does an Executive Coach Provide?

Executive coaches have specific sets of skills that they impart to their client through teaching and coaching systems. Rather than taking part in a business as an employee, manager, or owner, an executive coach comes alongside the existing human resources and helps them understand how to do their job better. This means that the essential service an executive coach provides is teaching service: they teach the client how to achieve better results. 

Where Does Executive Coaching Happen?

Executive coaching can happen in homes and other offices but often happens in the client's workplace because they are busy executives. While the actual coaching sessions occur in a communicative environment, much of the activities that coaching works with take place throughout the executive's busy workweek. Since coaching can be obtained for anything, the activities coaching touches can cover marketing, HR, content creation, IT, sales, quality control, and anything that  the executive needs. 

How Does an Executive Coach Work with Their Clients?

A significant part of this question is answered by the executive's supervisor who requested the coaching. Certain coaching situations are much more in-depth and hands-on, like when a coach is selected by the CEO to train her replacement. On the other hand, traditional coaching situations involve one-on-one mentoring sessions with activities assigned throughout the week. 

Regardless of the setup, good executive coaching enacts systems for tracking activities and following up on the success of the coaching weekly and monthly. This gives immediate feedback to all parties involved on the success of the coaching relationship and creates an opportunity for further coaching through identifying pain points. 

Why Would You Get Executive Coaching?

The following is by no means an exclusive list of the moments when you may need executive coaching, but it covers most of the major reasons why and moments when executives hire a coach:

  1. When an executive is being prepared for another position
    A CEO is not only a higher position than your average CTO position, it also entails entirely different skill sets. When an executive is preparing for taking over a different position in a company, they will use coaching to ensure they are ready for the position. 
  2. When an executive's department needs improvement
    Often the issues that cause a department to lag are not the result of any one person but are often the result of issues in a system. An experienced executive coach is able to identify the systematic problems and help the executive change the system to get desired results. 
  3. When an entire organization needs to change
    Whether changing major products, business processes or addressing serious external threats to a business, significant change often needs outside help to be done well. An executive coach provides this. 
  4. When an executive needs personal help
    There are many personal issues that affect an executive's performance but are not worth replacing the executive over. When one of these issues arises, a coach with experience in getting people through similar situations is a tremendous asset to the individual and the company. 

As you see, there are many reasons why an executive may need coaching, methods behind the coaching, and even who will do the coaching. Carefully consider each of these questions before you select your next executive coach.

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Ryan Bonnici

Ryan Bonnici

Ryan Bonnici is the Senior Director of Global Marketing at HubSpot. He’s an experienced digital marketing leader having held roles previously at Salesforce, ExactTarget, Microsoft and Qantas Airways. He's an experienced digital marketing consultant having worked with a wide range of businesses from thermal clothing sales to executive coaching services. For more frequent updates, follow him on Facebook (@growthguy) or Twitter (@ryanbonnici)