What Is The Point Of Executive Coaching?

As coaching is a generative process, it is targeted at healthy self-actualising people, at the top of their game in a given context, yet paradoxically ready for more self-actualization and self-realisation in that and other contexts. Coaching differs from modalities such as therapy, psychotherapy, psychology or counselling, which are remedial modalities. Remedial modalities are there to heal, cure, support and intervene.

Coaching on the other hand is pure facilitation to what’s next in your evolutionary development and unfolding. You can read more on this in a previous article – a 7-point health check for engaging an Executive Coach. As coaching is generative, as a client, you must fully opt in – and take responsibility for your own development.


Client readiness is necessary for coaching to be effective

This means as a client, that even if you say “Yes I’m ready to be free from that struggle or challenge”, that isn’t enough. You’ve got to be actual ready to move on from where you are now. Fully ready and completely aligned.

Secondary gain

Secondary gain means despite wanting to change and move past your status quo, you resist change, because you are still getting a pay off from your habitual way of being and doing.

That is that there is some investment in identifying with the struggle or challenge, even though it doesn’t work for you. That there is value in it despite the downfall, and therefore that part of you wont let go of the status quo. 

An example of this is the mind-body-emotional state of anxiety. In my experience in coaching Executives, anxiety tends to operate as a motivation strategy.

That is, you think about a future that hasn’t happened yet, and try to plan for possible worst case scenario outcomes, in order to avoid them, but in doing so, access an unresourceful mind-body-emotional state that stops you from taking the exact action that you need to take to get the outcome. This is a paradox, in that it does and doesn’t work. But you run it anyway : 

The question that tends to arise for people that run anxiety is “If I didn’t have that condition, who would I be? What else would I do? What would I talk about?”

Another way to look at this is, as a client you want to change, but are not ready to leave the prison and be responsible for your experience. There I said it! Are you ready to be responsible for YOU?

A more common example than you would think!

Imagine if you held a frame that somehow inside, deep down you were wrong, as person. That no matter what you do, you are wrong in the eyes of others.

You’d therefore likely also hold the counter frame your whole life, that you weren’t wrong, that you were right and now you are invested in being right, because you don’t experience yourself as right inside. So you’ll prove it goddamn it!

If that were true for you, then to give up the need to prove it to the world, would be giving up hope, so why would you do that? It would feel like you were giving yourself up, or dying somehow….

An enormous amount of fear and anxiety would arise, as it serves you to hold this frame-work, as you experience yourself as right…

So what’s the point of having a coach?

  • A quality relationship and conversation that gets to the heart of the truth in the moment
  • Facilitation of accountability and responsibility for self
  • Ongoing developmental support
  • Enables you readiness for development over time
  • To see your resistance and bring stuff to coaching that is true and real and therefore facilitate your own evolution
  • To enable you to get past your resistance to your own evolution and development
  • To learn to let the world in, in a way that doesn’t mean you'll lose yourself
  • To gain a depth of intimacy that you won’t find in remedial modalities
  • To gain more awareness and objectivity of patterns of thinking. In terms of health and freedom objectivity to what we're subject to is 90% of the work we do in coaching.
  • To learn to ground and actualise the realisations that come from greater awareness of self

*This post was originally published on The Coaching Room.

James Hayes

James Hayes

Executives engage me to gain a depth of change in their lives; to get real clear on where and why they are reacting to the world, rather than responding from a place of choice. I help them find a softness in their leadership and management style so that they have nothing to prove and are able to demonstrate a fierce authenticity in their leadership.