What is Executive Coaching?

To understand the concept of executive coaching, it is always better to start with the definition of 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.’ A coach is different from a counselor, trainer, consultant or mentor.

When it comes to executive coaching, the concept of coaching goesa step farther; the coach and the client enjoy a close and confidential relationship. The executive coach conducts one-on-one meetings with the C-suite staff in an organization and provides support in a safe, structured and trustworthy environment. An executive coach is someone who helps the individual identify with the current competencies, focus on goals and take pragmatic steps to reach those goals. The coach helps the client respond to urgent responsibilities and execute long-term visions to manage large global teams of people with varying approaches, outlooks and surroundings.

In the current global environment company leaders are increasingly becoming aware of investing in the all-around development of their C-level executives. Today’s organizations take advantage of executive coaches to help their leaders grow and maximize their value. If you are looking ahead to become an executive coach, it’s important to gain a clearer picture of the profession and get the required certification. In this article we will discuss a few fundamental concepts about executive coaching.

Defining executive coaching

The executive coach is a qualified professional who works with clients to help them gain self-awareness, clarify goals, and achieve peak performance by unlocking their hidden potential. They are different from consultants or therapists. They don’t focus on finding answers or giving advice or solving the client’s problems, but ask questions to help executives clarify and solve their own problems. They ask questions, challenge assumptions, help achieve clarity, and open up resources to name a few. Sometimes they conduct behavioral assessments or do confidential interviews for the individual to gain self-awareness.

Different types of coaching

A lot of changes have happened in the field of coaching for leaders in recent years. The field of executive coaching has expanded considerably and executives opting for coaching have a wide range of options. It has moved on from the traditional therapeutic model to coaching with a focus on business performance, leadership, and communication.

Executive coaching has now grown to be a dynamic field. Many managers too now choose to undergo coach training to help their employees improve their performance and achieve peak performance in their careers. The different levels of coaching support include:

  • Career coaching

This refers to working with an individual to help them make a career transition or obtain promotion. The coach may also give guidance on their professional development and job search. They provide support in various aspects of career coaching such as resume writing, job searches, online profiles, job interviewing, etc. Career coaches help the client determine what their passions are and how to frame a roadmap to integrate those passions into your career life.

  • Life coaching

In a corporate environment, life coaching does not hold much importance. However, life coaches are still present internally to help employees focus on a different aspect of life and thrive in their personal life as well. Life coaches work with the individual to help them improve career, health and fitness, finances, relationships, and spiritual growth.

  • Organizational and business coaching

In this type of coaching the focus is on helping business owners and entrepreneurs in identifying their goals, find the roadmap and obtain those goals, and boost the overall performance of the organization. When business owners tend to perform better the organization will also improve. Many organizations take advantage of organizational coaching to achieve strategic objectives, enhance leadership capability and create cultural change.

  • Performance coaching

Performance coaches stand with employees within organizations who need to improve their work performance. Often, performance coaching is given regardless of level or job title. It can also be given as a result of performance appraisal results.

  • Leadership coaching

Leadership coaching is a developmental process in which the coach and the leader will go through a tailored coaching approach to achieve the desired goals and help them become effective leaders. It can be given to an individual contributor, manager or senior manager to improve their leadership skills.

The GROW Model

The GROW model is one of the most widely-used models for coaching by executive coaches in corporate settings. GROW is an acronym that stands for Goal, Reality, Options/Obstacles, and Will/Way Forward. Many executive coaches around the globe have used the GROW model since the 1980s. As a whole, coaching is about discovering the client’s perspective and reality, setting goals or objectives, finding different points of view or options and selecting the right course of action to reach the desired goals.

How is executive coaching different from other practices?

As mentioned above, coaching is different from counseling or mentoring. It does not include therapeutic outcomes as expected in counseling. Counseling is generally defined as ‘professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods, especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes.’ Coaching is future-oriented while counseling spends a lot of time analyzing the client’s past. Mentoring is a self-directed activity where the mentor will guide the mentee.

On the other hand, coaching is a true partnership among equals. It is a conversation between the client and coach to help the individual understand their goals, hopes, and curiosities. It does not dig into their past. The individual is empowered to uncover and develop a self-motivated path forward to achieve their goal.

How to become an executive coach?

The executive coaching industry is a booming industry as more global organizations are venturing into introducing executive coaching in their strategy. Hence a career as an executive coach is a promising one. If you are passionate about assisting people to achieve peak performance in life and earn a living out of it, you can opt to become an executive coach. Formal coaching is not required to become an executive coach.

There are many significant benefits of enrolling for coaching certification, though it is not mandatory to becoming an executive coach. A professional coaching certification helps to stand out in the market. It helps boost your reputation and get recognized as a true professional. It also adds legitimacy to your abilities. By participating in a certification program it equips you with the required tools and techniques to be successful as an executive coach. The program helps you to be a part of a wide network of coaches and you will gain access to a wide circle of peers, mentors, and friends.