“What Is Executive Coaching?” Answered

by | Career Growth

Many leaders consider hiring an executive coach at one point or another in their careers. They also have questions about the executive coaching process, what executive coaches do, and how to find the best executive coach. If you are looking to learn more about these topics, keep reading!

In this article, I answer the following questions: “What is executive coaching?” “What is an executive coach?” and “What does an executive coach do?” I also share popular executive coaching topics, explain when to hire someone, and describe how to find an executive coach if you decide you want to partner with one.

What Is Executive Coaching?

To start, what is executive coaching? Executive coaching is the process of increasing your self-awareness through reflection, critical thinking, and action-oriented support. While the most common goal of executive coaching is behavior change, leaders seek out executive coaching services for a variety of reasons.

Executive coaching can take place between a manager and executive, with an internal coach, or with an external coach. These services are available in both one-to-one and group settings. For this article, I discuss one-to-one executive coaching with an external coach as this is one of the most popular offerings.

What Is An Executive Coach?

So what is an executive coach? Simply put, they are an objective sounding board for leaders navigating change. They also serve as trusted confidants, companions, and co-pilots as executives navigate challenges in their careers, their companies, and their lives.

Important: You are in the driver’s seat when partnering with an executive coach. Because you are in control of every aspect of the journey — determining your coaching goals, deciding how to measure progress, setting the session topics, you name it — the possibilities are limitless.

What Does An Executive Coach Do?

But what does an executive coach do? Executive coaches support you in your journey to becoming a better manager, a better leader, and a better human. They do this by creating a brave space for you to be vulnerable, actively listening, and leveraging coaching best practices to support you in achieving your goals.

Notably, executive coaches do not simply give advice or tell you what to do at your company, with your career, or in your life. Instead, they empower you to evaluate your options, nimbly weigh the pros and cons, and then confidently make decisions that align with your long-term goals and dreams.

Popular Executive Coaching Topics

Now, let’s discuss a few of the most popular topics people cover in their work with an executive coach. While every leader is unique, the following are some of the most popular topics I cover with my own clients.

If my clients are looking for a new job, we may also cover the following coaching topics to support them in planning their next career step. 

Know that these are just a few popular executive coaching topics. A skilled executive coach will empower you to explore topics that help you push beyond your comfort zone and overcome your fears.

When To Hire An Executive Coach

OK, so when do people hire an executive coach? I find there are several common situations where people find themselves making this investment:

  • You find yourself feeling stuck in your career and/or life. In these situations, your may partner with a coach to weigh your options, develop an action plan, and achieve what you never imagined was possible.
  • You are looking to improve or develop a skill. This may be increasing your confidence, strengthening your communication skills, or improving your leadership prowess.
  • You are ready to level up in your career. An executive coach can help you identify your blind spots, lean into your strengths, and reach new heights professionally.

While these are a few of the most common ways I see executives invest in their careers, there are, of course, other times when it makes sense to work with an executive coach. Trust your intuition.

How To Find An Executive Coach

Finally, how do you find an executive coach? My best advice is to consult those around you and request a personal recommendation. Ask your peers, mentors, and friends if they have an executive coach they trust.

You can also find an executive coach by turning to your favorite industry publications and associations. Check your favorite articles and speaking engagements, then see which thought leaders align with your beliefs and values.

As I regularly advise in my published articles, be careful before getting wooed by a coach with a large social media following. Conduct your due diligence and find a coach with experience supporting leaders at your level.

Importantly, take time to review the coach’s testimonials, and be sure to separate testimonials by one-to-one clients from participants of a course, webinar, or workshop. Personally, I prefer to collect my client testimonials on my LinkedIn profile so that you can click through and see my clients’ work. You will quickly see that many of my clients fill high-level roles at top companies.

Below are additional resources to support you in finding an executive coach.

Five Benefits Of Executive Coaching That May Surprise You

How Much Does Executive Coaching Cost?

How To Find The Best Executive Coach For Your Needs

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

About Dr. Kyle Elliott

Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.

A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He has been recognized as a Best Career & Interview Coach, Best Resume Writer for Silicon Valley/Tech Managers & Executives, and LinkedIn Top Voice (the platform’s highest honor).



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