What is Executive Coaching?
Executive coaching is tailored support to help people to unpack and respond to challenges, and/or to access a higher sense of purpose & fulfilment - and in so doing to generate new behavioural options, and in some cases new life and livelihood choices.
Identifying meaningful goals, implementing strategies to achieve them and leading balanced lives in today’s super-fast, super-connected world are not easy. While information and advice are plentiful, usually most helpful are the messages - and the messengers - that meet us in our world, based on where we are right now. Executive coaching is an intervention which is targeted to the specific needs of the individual(s), group or organisation.
Even the most outwardly successful people or teams may feel that 'there's more potential in here than I or we are using', or may feel stuck at some stage – perhaps without even consciously realising this.
What is the purpose of an Executive Coach?
The purpose of an Executive Coach is to help individuals, teams and organisations get to a place in which they begin to experience their work and life as being more fulfilled and more resourceful - in a better and faster way than they could have made such shifts on their own. Trust of, and rapport with, the coach is crucial.
Helping people to mobilise around a vision and mission that they genuinely believe in, and helping them to align so they can make greater use of and build their distinctive strengths, are proven to be much more effective than focusing on trying to correct individuals' weaknesses.
How coaching works
Assisting people to see their patterns and where these might have stemmed from - in a neutral, non-judgemental way - helps individuals to decide which patterns to maintain, and which to work at replacing with new ones, so that they can make swifter progress towards what 'better' (for them and their stakeholders) looks and feels like.
Coaching often benefits the wider organisation as well as the individuals, because no-one is a 'closed system'. People and processes together influence behaviour and experience - therefore valuable opportunities for the development of the organisation as well as the individual(s) may be identified as a result of coaching.
Coaching is 100% confidential and may be either a one off conversation, or an occasional discussion, or a series of interventions.
How coaching complements mediation
Coaching closely complements mediation, for example:
Before mediation - coaching can help individuals to prepare to engage in and benefit from mediation
During mediation - coaching helps individuals to identify and explore thoughts, feelings and ideas to guide them in constructing options for moving forward (such options forming the agreed written outcomes of mediation)
After mediation - coaching may be a direct point of agreement arising from a mediation (eg. Person A agrees to undergo coaching in how to approach challenging conversations less confrontationally or less submissively), and/or coaching also supports mediation participants as they integrate the steps that they are accountable for as outcomes of mediation.
An example of a coaching tool
An example of an easy-to-remember tool to help navigate change and growth is FACE below:
Staying focused on a small number of priorities that resonate and matter most (not trying to do too much too quickly) - is crucial for achieving change, and for avoiding demotivation or stress. Individual expectations for coaching outcomes (and expectations of relevant stakeholders as applicable) need to be set and managed realistically - given the available capacity to engage in light of other commitments - and up front. Proper focus enables the right changes to take root and sustain. Taking the time to listen to authentic feedback from others and oneself is crucial.
Personal and professional growth is not about trying to get individuals and/or teams to do something someone else wants them to do - but is about helping individuals to find mutually supportive and aligned paths and agendas with others and with the wider organisation. With this realisation we can make more informed and inclusive choices and draw on the resources available to steer towards better outcomes for the individual(s) and the organisation.
We may need something over and above what got us 'here', and what is keeping us here, to get us 'there'. What we feel on the inside affects how we show up on the outside, so it’s in our interests to be as conscious as possible about how our thoughts, feelings and actions are feeding each other. This includes deciding whether we’re comfortable about our current direction of travel or whether we wish to choose to create new neural pathways, beliefs, patterns and habits, with the right support and inspiration.
When individuals are well-aligned in their visions, values, beliefs and strengths, the energy generated makes the 'whole' greater than the sum of the 'parts'. When individuals are not well-aligned in these aspects - perhaps because they are feeling pressure to fit into someone else’s paradigm, or unsure of what they really need or how to get it - energy is lost. With reduced energy, people are more susceptible to under-performance, stress and ill health. Being helped in the right way to unpack what’s been going on, and identify what 'better' might look like, is an energising process.
More about Marianne Schoenig
Marianne Schoenig is a qualified coach and NLP Practitioner, with extensive coaching experience within large and small organisations.