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8 Frequently Asked Questions on Executive Coaching

Are you wondering if executive coaching might be right for you or others in your organisation? Do you want to find out more about what is executive coaching? If so, you've come to the right place.

At The Leadership Coaches, we frequently hear people asking "what is executive coaching?", "what does it include?", and "how do I know if it's the right time for me to experience leadership coaching?"

With this in mind, we answer eight frequently asked questions on coaching in this blog.

1. How Will Executive Coaching Help Me To Be a Better Leader?

Executive coaching provides leaders with time and space away from their busy roles to reflect on what they do and, more importantly, how they do it. As you contemplate coaching, you may recognise that something needs to change in how you are as a leader to enable you to perform at your best or achieve greater levels of satisfaction but don’t know how to do this or have struggled to sustain behaviour changes over the long term.

It might be that you’ve received feedback around your leadership capability or impact or have a desire to take on more responsibility or be promoted and aren’t sure what you need to do to get there. It might be that you feel your work could be more satisfying if you could change an aspect of it and need help to make that happen.

A leadership coach can guide you into an exploration of your leadership practices and underlying beliefs and attitudes with the intention of helping you gain new insights into the leadership impact you currently have and what you would like to change. This might involve addressing what’s holding you back so that you can build new levels of confidence and competence. The coach will support you as you experiment with new behaviours and strategies and then reflect further on how well those are working to have your desired impact, adjusting them as needed.

2. How Do I Know if It Is the Right Time for Me To Be Coached?

If you have a feeling that executive coaching might benefit you, it’s essential to ask yourself if you are ready to engage in the coaching process. Coaching requires time and effort. To be effective, you need to be prepared to allocate time to reflect on what you are learning from each session.

It’s not always easy, and it can feel uncomfortable as you explore your habitual patterns of thinking and behaving to gain new insights. It requires a willingness to try out new ideas and behaviours, which might involve a degree of discomfort as you step out of your comfort zone and away from your more familiar ways of doing things.

Whilst the executive coach will support you along the way, you are responsible for making changes and need to believe that you have the power to do so. This might require you to move beyond blaming others or the organisation for your circumstances and finding a way to let go of resentments from the past.

3. How Do You Measure the Impact of Executive Coaching?

The ultimate test of whether coaching has been successful is that you have made progress with the topic you wanted to address through coaching. Since the topics that bring people into coaching are wide-ranging, the outcomes can be equally diverse.

At The Leadership Coaches, we help you get clear on what you want to get out of coaching at the start and establish measures of success against which we can track the progress made. Input is also obtained from the sponsor, usually your line manager, to ensure the coaching will address the organisation’s needs. Using mid- and end-point surveys, both you and the sponsor assess the progress made against these coaching goals and report on the impact this has had on your performance.

Any gaps or further opportunities are identified and addressed during the remaining coaching sessions or a plan for the organisation to support you with your ongoing development.

4. How Will I Know If an Executive Coach Is the Right Coach for Me?

In addition to wondering what is executive coaching, you might be curious to learn how you'll know if a leadership coach is right for you. After all, the relationship between you and the coach has consistently been found to be the most important factor impacting the effectiveness of coaching. It’s therefore critical that you have a good rapport with the coach.

At The Leadership Coaches, every coachee is given the opportunity to meet with one or more coaches for a complimentary ‘chemistry’ meeting before the coaching starts. This is an opportunity for you to consider if you feel a connection with this coach, such that you will be able to share openly and honestly throughout the coaching. Usually, this comes from a gut sense of feeling listened to, respected and understood.

The chemistry meeting is also an opportunity for you to learn more about the coach’s experience, style and approach to coaching and to ask any specific questions you have to reassure you that this coach is the right one for you.

If, for any reason, you have any hesitation, then The Leadership Coaches will arrange further chemistry sessions with other coaches.

5. How Many Coaching Sessions Are Usually Needed, and How Many Months Will I Work With a Coach?

The number of sessions and duration of the coaching varies according to the needs of the coachee and organisation and is usually agreed upon before the coaching starts with the sponsor or other stakeholders who hold the budget.

A typical course of executive coaching might be six or more sessions held monthly. This allows the coachee to explore the issue with the coach, followed by sufficient time to reflect, apply new insights and experiment with new behaviours in their real-world setting before returning to the next coaching session. This repeated cycle of reflection and action is most effective in facilitating change that will be sustained over time.

As the agreed coaching sessions come towards the end, it may be possible to contract for further coaching sessions if there are clearly defined coaching objectives for the further sessions and agreement between the coach, coachee and sponsor that these will be of value.

6. Does Executive Coaching Always Involve a Psychometric Tool?

The use of a psychometric tool can provide some useful input at the start of coaching, but this isn’t essential. A wide range of tools are available, some of which are solely for self-assessment, and others are designed to obtain input from colleagues. Each have their own unique set of attributes and the decision to use one, and if so, which one will depend on several factors, including the client’s and organisation’s needs and the topic for coaching.

Some organisations have deployed a preferred psychometric tool across the business or within a defined population, e.g., all leaders or participants of a talent or leadership development programme. Widespread use of a tool in this way can provide employees and teams with a common language to talk about leadership and/or team working, thus making it easier to bring topics such as preferred working styles, strengths and development areas into general conversation.

The topic for coaching might also determine whether a psychometric tool is used. For example, if a client wants to improve their emotional intelligence (EI), the use of an EI psychometric tool might provide a jump start to the coaching by offering insights into those aspects of emotional intelligence that will enhance their performance.

Whilst the use of psychometric tools is part of our offering at The Leadership Coaches, many coaching assignments go ahead without the use of a psychometric. The coaches are skilled in helping clients define their development needs and will usually obtain input from the sponsor or line manager as the coaching objectives are agreed upon.

7. What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring?

Coaching and mentoring are both developmental relationships in which individuals are supported to improve their competence, performance in the role, and/or maximise their professional or personal potential. The coach or mentor asks questions through confidential conversations, actively listens, and provides feedback. In both, the client is the ‘expert’ on themselves and is ultimately responsible for their decision making.

The difference between coaching and mentoring lies in how the coach/mentor balance the degree to which they offer advice compared to supporting a person to learn through reflection and self-insight.

A mentor typically has more experience than the mentee and may be a senior leader. They share their life and career experiences, stories and insights and may offer tips for navigating the organisation's formal and informal working methods. They may act as a sounding board for ideas and concerns on a wide range of topics.

A coach primarily takes a non-directive approach to support an employee enhance their self-awareness, drawing out their wisdom, insights and creativity. Through skilful use of listening, questioning and withholding judgement, a coach helps a coachee learn to resolve problems and find more effective ways to manage challenging situations. The coach encourages a coachee to take ownership of their personal and professional growth and realise their potential.

8. If the Coach Isn’t Familiar With My Work and Life, How Can They Help Me?

If you wonder what is leadership coaching, you might also want to understand how leadership coaching can support you if a coach isn't familiar with your work and life.

In leadership coaching, the client is the expert on their personal and professional life. The coach supports them to use their creativity and resources to learn and gain new insights into how they manage themselves in their life.

At The Leadership Coaches, all of our coaches have experience of leadership in organisations, so whilst they might not have directly experienced your role, they know what it’s like to be a leader and deal with the challenges that come from leading people projects and strategy. They’ve all coached senior leaders within organisations and have a proven track record of success.

Contact Us Today

Having reviewed the eight frequently asked questions on executive coaching above, if you’re thinking about leadership coaching and have further questions, come and talk to us at The Leadership Coaches.

We’re always willing to discuss your requirements and work towards a coaching solution tailored to your organisation’s specific needs.

Written by Sue G, February 2022


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