What is Executive Coaching
In this area you will find in-depth information about what executive coaching is and is not, and what to look for in a coach.
The International Coach Federation® (ICF) defines Coaching as follows:
“Professional Coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organization. Through the process of coaching, clients deepen their learning, improve their performance, and enhance their quality of life.*”
Within this context it is important to emphasize a few points to further clarify coaching and, through better understanding, increase its success:
- If coaching is a professional relationship it is implied that it should be well-defined and agreed upon by both parties, with benefits as well as responsibilities of each side clearly outlined.
- If a person offering coaching services is to help their clients produce results, she/he has to be a qualified professional adhering to the ethical guidelines of a coaching profession and respecting the rules and regulations of a client.
- If “people are helped to produce results*” it is implied that clients are the ones carrying the load of change and wanting to do so. A coach serves as a guide and support.
- Coaching is a process. If sustainable changes in human behavior were easily achieved, coaching would merely be a one-time conversation.
What Executive Coaching is Not
Executive Coaching is NOT consulting, therapy, mentoring, training or teaching, although it often borrows concepts from each.
The distinction, however, is very important for two main reasons:
- It is not always the case that coaching in particular will cover clients’ needs. A different type of service may be needed depending on what the issue is.
- The criteria for choosing a professional from each of the above-mentioned services are very different. While a consultant, for example, is a person who ideally has experience in the industry that the client is in, this is not a requirement for a coach.
How to Choose a Coach
As with every service, choosing the person(s) to deliver it is crucial to the success of the endeavour. Coaching as we know it today is a fairly new field, which additionally confuses clients in their attempt to choose a professional that is best able to address their needs.
In choosing a coach, the most important thing to remember is What Executive Coaching is Not. Understanding each of the different development approaches and their goals will help you decide which skills set to look for in your search.
Therefore, clients should forget about skill sets they are looking for in their corporate trainers for example, consultants or mentors. Instead they should ask themselves whether the coach they are interviewing is helping them look at things from a different perspective or constantly supporting theirs; whether she/he is challenging them or going along with what they hold as true; whether she/he is making them stretch and feel uncomfortable at times, or feels more as an agreeable friend, etc.
And if still uncertain, invite a trained Human Resources professional to assist you with screening. Somebody who is familiar with the coaching field will know what to look for in a coach.