What is Executive Coaching? 

When organizations want to accelerate and optimize their top talent, they frequently seek out candidates with specific skills, backgrounds, or degrees. While these characteristics contribute to cultivating top talent, there is much more to consider. Being a high performer does require specific skills, but it also requires things like productivity, motivation, and engagement, which are not measured by how well you can balance a checkbook. 

This is where coaching comes in. As an executive, you can hire someone who specializes in coaching C-Suite members and senior leaders. 

But what is executive coaching? How is it different from other types of coaching you may have heard about? 

Executive coaches work one-on-one with senior leaders, C-Suite executives, and other high-profile leaders within your organization. An executive coach may be hired for many reasons, such as to cultivate talent, enhance leadership effectiveness, increase productivity, and more. 

Truthfully, you don’t need a specific reason to hire a coach. Coaches enable their clients to be proactive in their leadership initiatives so that they are more prepared to face challenges rather than scrambling to address situations when they arise. Coaches optimize the performance of leaders by creating focus and ongoing momentum to help them reach their full potential. 

Why Does Executive Coaching Matter?

The power and impact of executive coaching goes beyond the tasks and responsibilities an executive fulfills in their career. Since it is nearly impossible to separate home and work, an executive coach guides their coachee to address challenges and focus on goals in all areas of their life. As discussed in this interview from Gallup, many executives are hindered from reaching their full potential because of their limiting beliefs. 

Limiting beliefs are doubts disguised as obstacles to achieving goals. Limiting beliefs are related to how we view ourselves, how others view us, and past experiences that may not have prepared us for the present challenge. Dealing with these beliefs may seem to be too difficult or something we feel we don’t have time to conquer. Limiting beliefs are baggage we have not come to terms with and linger in the background, which stalls our development and growth.  

In addition to an individual’s limiting beliefs, an organization can have similar hindrances. An organization’s limiting beliefs depend on what the historical challenges, culture, successes, and experiences have been.  

Executive coaching helps leaders and organizations break through limiting beliefs to realize quick wins, lasting gains and continuous improvement. 

Reasons to Hire an Executive Coach

People and organizations may hire an executive coach when they are: 

  • Going through a M&A 
  • Making a big leadership transition 
  • Unhappy with their performance 
  • Misaligned between their work and their purpose/values 
  • Being proactive to create a strategy 
  • Seeking ongoing support, regardless of circumstance 
  • Working through any other big event 

There is no right or wrong reason to engage an executive coach, as there can always be a way for this relationship to be fruitful. 

Churchill Executive Coach, Mindy Morrow, explains, “Executive coaching is one of the more powerful forms of leader development. Coachees explore both who they are as leaders and their impact on others. Clients partner with their coach to find ways to become even more effective at their craft. Leadership is a practice just like other humanities disciplines, and with an executive coach, results happen faster!”  

Regardless of your initial reason for hiring a coach, being more effective in your role is something that nearly everyone can address. 

“Transitions are a critical time for leaders. In fact, from my own experience as a Fortune 500 executive and confirmed as an executive coach, moving into a new role is one of the biggest challenges a leader will face,” notes Churchill Executive Coach Shawn Simon. “It is even more challenging when moving into a new organization’s culture, processes, and area of focus. Regardless, leaders are in a time of “high vulnerability” whether they are internal promotions or external hires bringing new “DNA” (experience and expertise) where anticipated changes can become even more top of mind for the receiving team.  

“Any significant missteps in the first 90-120 days can create lasting negative impressions/damage, which essentially puts an “anchor” of drag on that leader’s chances of making real progress and generating wins. 

“But, working with an executive coach and gaining “lead from behind” support for ensuring the executive has a fully “illuminated path” with no blind spots is invaluable for both the leader and their organization’s substantial investment. An executive coach will also enable the leader to identify and anticipate their best path forward, providing a disciplined approach and trajectory for achieving immediate and long-term results with successful new leader assimilation.”  

Shawn knows how critical it is to step into a new role with the right strategy and support since there are no “redos” when making a transition.  

These are just a few examples of the results clients see from executive coaching. Like any other service, coaches address needs in accordance with the client’s unique situation. 

Benefits of Executive Coaching

The International Coach Federation’s (ICF) Global Coaching Client Study Report found that after using executive coaching: 

  • 86% of companies earned back their investment in coaching 
  • 28% achieved an ROI of 10-49x & 19% an ROI of 50x their investment 
  • 80% of clients reported improved confidence 
  • 73% reported improved relationships and 70% work performance 
  • 99% were satisfied with the coaching experience and 96% would repeat it 

It’s clear that in addition to alleviating many of the personal and professional stressors senior leaders face, executive coaching provides a huge monetary ROI for the organization and its bottom line as a whole. Each of the challenges that a client addresses with a coach will have a positive domino effect on the rest of that client’s direct work, direct reports, and the productivity/outcomes of stakeholders down the line.

Getting Started

As a leader who is considering hiring an executive coach for yourself or for your colleagues, you might not know where to start. Since executive coaching is a large investment, you want to be sure your people are ready to work with a coach and have taken some steps to prepare for the engagement. 

Prior to starting a coaching engagement, you may want to: 

  • Embark on self-discovery by using a tool like StrengthsFinder to learn more about yourself and your strengths. 
  • Reflect on tangible goals you have that are long-term but that are within sight and achievable. 
  • Have conversations with internal coaches. 
  • Seek out external professional coaching. 

Regardless of industry type or company size, a coach can be an asset to any executive, even for startups. 

A great option is for leaders at all levels is to have an internal coach and an external coach. An internal coach can provide support with everyday needs (this can be the person’s manager). An external executive coach would step in to catalyze bigger behavioral and perceptional leadership development change that is needed. A coach serving in this capacity would also help a leader grow and become more effective. 

An external coach is not only great as an outsider with a fresh, innovative mind but can also serve as an unbiased stakeholder that is unaffected by the coachee’s decision-making. The coach’s career path is not predicated on the decisions made by the executive they are coaching, which alleviates stress from the client. An external coach also serves as a confident and trusted partner. 

This is the perfect time to partner with a reliable expert to help you navigate the rapid changes we’re experiencing as the pandemic continues. Having a valuable partner in your corner as a sounding board to guide your thinking process and streamline your leadership skills is a powerful asset for every leader. Click on the links to learn more about Churchill’s Executive Coaching as a Managed Service and Executive Coaching 1 on 1 as Needed.  

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