Busting Myths about Executive

Quick, what do you think of when you hear the term executive coaching? Or if you’re the one looking for a coach, what do you think that experience will be like? Certain misconceptions about executive coaching are common. Clearing up what coaching is and is not points to insights on the true strengths and benefits that coaching provides to those willing to dedicate time and energy to make this investment in their future.

Is a coach like a therapist?  Executive coaching is oriented toward the future and its fresh possibilities for change and growth. Therapy, on the other hand, while it deals with some similar concepts and aspects of a person’s internal landscape, is generally centered on the past. Yes, a coach may need to understand aspects of a person’s past, but primarily for context rather than as the structure that leads to resolution.

Is a coach a mentor or a teacher?  Coaching is driven by the powerful resources within the person being coached rather than by information handed down from another. Many of us have been blessed in our careers to have been shepherded along by a wise and capable mentor. Typically a mentor would be someone older, or at least more experienced, who guides us through stages as we learn and grow in our career. Whether helping a young professional get exposure to multiple facets of the business–production, sales, administration–or being guided into increasingly specific nuances of a particular discipline–a mentor’s view is valuable. While mentorship involves transferring knowledge from outside, coaching, as opposed to teaching, unlocks the creativity, innovation and resources within the person being coached. Rather than an older, wiser superior, the coach is a partner revealing the resources already present within the one being coached.

Coaching is more than a simple solution.  Coaching is a client-driven process in which the coach is a partner and supporter; the one being coached is accountable for envisioning the goals and taking steps toward their achievement–a process that cannot be outsourced. The executive or individual being coached isn’t just told what to do by a consultant–following a formula of steps or waiting for a final resolution to be delivered through a handy solution.

Coaching is personalized attention that unlocks potential.  Executive coaching deals with high- performing individuals and is often reserved for those leaders showing great potential. It is viewed as an added benefit that can enrich one’s career and it has the ability to boost strong performers to even higher levels. Certainly, coaching elevates an individual’s performance at any level to bring about change and refinement.

Executive coaching in an investment in yourself, your future, and the future of your business. It’s an experience designed to provoke deep thought and enliven the creative process within you so that you can reach your full potential. The answers you seek are already there but hidden; the coach’s role is to help you open up previously untapped areas, inspiring imagination, productivity and leadership.

The process is by no means do-it-yourself, however. You are in charge, but the coach is your trustworthy partner and guide, nudging you to new depths within a safe, professional relationship. The goals are yours, not superimposed by anyone else, and it requires your active participation.

All that may be easy to describe, but the skeptic in you wants to know about specific benefits and the outcomes to expect from executive coaching.

The best executive coaches are exceptionally skilled at asking questions. They ask questions that challenge assumptions and help reframe issues. They ask questions that encourage the one being coached to clarify their goals and values then go a step further and think about the resulting possible courses of action.

Executive coaches are keen observers. They offer feedback and perspective, and provide opportunities to practice behaviors that are being cultivated.

Ultimately the process of questioning and discovery leads to several positive results for both individuals and their companies. Enhanced emotional intelligence and greater self-awareness are consistent results that are connected with a host of additional benefits that tend to fall within three areas.

  1. Personal fulfillment. Self-management skills, goal attainment, and improved decision making are a few of the personal benefits. Individuals find enhanced well-being, reduced stress, self- efficacy, breakthroughs in thinking, and heightened self-awareness.
  2. Interpersonal skills. Social skills improve and in conjunction with personal fulfillment, individuals improve collaboration, empathy, communication and management skills.
  3. Organizational benefits. Coaching leads the individual to identify clear priorities and gain strength and focus for the hard but necessary conversations. It sharpens the focus on the future and planning and accelerates action. With positive change, turnover may decline.

Executive coaching is a powerful tool for development, growth and improved emotional intelligence. Ryan Bonnici’s post expands on these and other coaching results. Better alignment of key leadership behaviors, accountability for appropriate leader behaviors, and improved executive focus also result.

PS – As hard as it may be to think about cooler weather, it is right around the corner! As we wrap up our summer vacations and head back into work, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get something accomplished before year-end. Do it with ease and intentionality, and with a partner to help you generate forward momentum.

My focus this fall is on helping people to stop spending time with people who don’t deserve their time, so they can better manage themselves and their teams. Is this you? Do you know anyone who could use this kind of help? I am currently interviewing for 1 or 2 client openings. Come discover what’s possible with me! Click here and let’s get the conversation started.

Source: Longenecker, Clinton & McCartney, Mike. (2020). The benefits of executive coaching: voices from the C-suite. Strategic HR Review. ahead-of-print. 10.1108/SHR-06-2019-0048.


Nancy Owsianowski is the Founder of RoundTable Consulting where her relational, insightful approach transforms teams, leaders, and organizations.