What is Executive Coaching? 

 April 1, 2018

By  Tamara Pickard

So, you have heard of executive coaching and you would like to know more. What is executive coaching precisely? How does it work, and why is it sought after so heavily? The purpose of this blog is to explain what executive coaching is and is not. Then you can decide if it is for you. This post could lead you one step closer to your next level of development...


Executive coaching is a profession where experienced coaches facilitate high performance for an executive. This kind of coaching works best under certain conditions. Like a powerful prescription drug. You wouldn't prescribe antibiotics to someone that didn't need them. It would be expensive, not to mention the potential negative side effects. If you prescribed executive coaching to any leader in an business, you could have the same unfortunate result.

So, when should you appoint an executive coach and when isn't it appropriate? 
Firstly, a note about this post. We're going to use the terms executive and leader alternately. Because an executive may not consider themselves a leader and vice versa. But keep in mind that this kind of coaching may be applicable to any employee. If you're not sure, then we recommend you call us to discuss.

So, here are a few things to consider before you decide to engage with an executive coach...

Why should I have an executive coach?

Generally speaking, one might hire a coach to reach their next level of development. As coaches, we explore the beliefs, values, and intentions of the client. Through focused discussions we explore things which impact the leaders vitality and resilience. This can be a range of challenges. Sometimes these challenges are related to the complexity of business relationships. Sometimes it is simply a personal matter that may be holding the leader back.

Executive coaching is not training, mentoring, therapy or consulting. A coach doesn't teach new skills, nor do they offer guidance as a mentor. It is not remedial like therapy. Because this style of coaching is for generative change. Another thing businesses may forget is that a coach is not a consultant. All the above roles can be valuable, but they are not the role of a coach.

Executive coaching is not telling people what to do. It’s giving them a chance to examine what they are doing in light of their intentions.

To summarise, executive coaching is a relationship designed to muster a higher level of performance. That means that this kind of coaching is personal and relational. It is what we would call facilitative and supportive. And of course it is solution and goal focused. Is this what you are looking for? 

There are many benefits of executive coaching. One benefit is that leaders are able to overcome their challenges. By doing this, leaders transform their learning into results for the business.

What is the role of an executive coach?

Now that we have addressed some of what executive coaching is, and what it is not. Let's take a closer look at the role of the coach.

A good coach will support the executive to reflect upon themselves. The executive is then able to review their perspective and direction as a leader. The coach holds a space for the leader to reflect. The leader can then acknowledge their current state of being. Put simply, the coach facilitates the executive to become self-aware.

A self-aware leader can start to see untapped resources. With the support of a coach, they can start accessing these resources. The result is - greater performance for them and the business. One key factor in leadership is the leaders ability to step back from the pressure and stress of business. This allows them room to find a clear path ahead in the right direction. A good coach will assist the leader in finding a way to step-back and see the landscape.

The goal of the coach is to empower the executive in their leadership. Empowering them, gives them more choice and control in decision-making. This ensures the leader is responsible for addressing the things most important to them.

A good executive coach is not there to hold the executive accountable. The executive will learn how to hold themselves accountable to their own intended outcomes. As they're learning to do this, they will have the support and partnership of their coach.

In summary, this is high profile coaching. And it is not for fostering under-responsibility or dependency in leaders. It is for fully empowering the executive. Keeping in mind, over time may not need to engage with a coach. Through coaching, the leader becomes a self-coaching and self-mastering leader. What business wouldn't want those kind of leaders?

How does executive coaching work?

Those who engage in executive coaching on a regular basis, typically complete a coaching cycle. The cycle typically consist of 1-hour sessions, held either weekly, fortnightly or monthly. The cycle length will be agreed with the coach, to allow suitable time for the leader to achieve their desired outcomes. 

The coaching sessions are held in the client's place of business, and quite often even via video conferencing software such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Skype. In any case, it is important to use a private setting where the executive is able to speak freely. Once an executive has completed their first cycle, they may choose to complete another coaching cycle. With the next cycle focusing on the next big challenge the leader is facing. 

Sometimes, but not always, the coach will give the client practices or tasks to complete outside of the sessions. The benefit of the practices is that the client can embody the learning between each session. And as has been noted, the burden for completing the practices is with the executive. 

The success of coaching often rests on the relationship between the coach and the client. So, we think it's important that the executive is able to contact their coach between sessions. A client might choose to contact the coach via email or phone to check in and share outcomes. This is another way that the coaching cycles or packages promote full embodiment of the learning.

How it works...

  • The client chooses where coaching is held, such as the clients office or via video call.
  • A length of the coaching cycle will be agreed prior to starting coaching.
  • Usually a cycle consists of 1-hour sessions held at regular intervals.
  • The executive will have access to the coach between sessions.

What are the benefits of executive coaching?

Executives seek coaching for a variety of reasons. One common reason is to grow their emotional intelligence (EQ) and spiritual intelligence (SI). Growing these two skills abets highly effective communication and highly practical partnerships.

Here is what some of our clients say they experience from executive coaching…

  • Improved communication and rapport building skills.
  • Better awareness of their leadership strengths and challenges.
  • Learning actual practical tools to improve their leadership.
  • A deeper awareness of their own beliefs, attitudes and habits.
  • Learning how others perceive them.
  • Clarity of their own values. e.g. who they are in the company and what they stand for.
  • Experienced greater conviction and motivation in their positions.
  • Learning to take faster action with more precision. i.e. greater efficiency.
  • Improved innovative and critical thinking, leading to better ideas for the business.
  • Gain advanced skills in time management and delegation.
  • Up-skilling in conflict resolution, team building and negotiation.
  • Received support and space to talk things through to gain new perspectives.
  • Received support to make bold moves and to build confidence.
  • Learned to maintain a balance between work and personal life.
  • Greater ability in managing anxiety and stress.

Executive coaching is aimed at inspiring leaders to make behavioural changes. This undoubtedly transforms them and the people around them. Also, we see performance increase drastically in the leader's organisation.

Given these points above, no matter what level of leadership or what role you play in your organisation... executive coaching may be able to assist you in rising to the next level of your development. 

Now you know what this style of coaching is all about. Now read our blog to find out if this kind of coaching is for you.


  • Executive Coaching is not always right for everyone, all the time.
  • Coaching packages usually consist of 1-hour sessions either weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
  • This style of coaching can help assist growth in EQ and SQ.
Contact Modo today to discuss your coaching needs. We could be the key to greater success in your business!

Tamara Pickard

Tamara Pickard is an Executive Coach, Trainer and a Managing Director of Modo Coaching and Training, with many years of experience leading large organisations. Tamara is a certified Meta-Coach, Master NLP practitioner and experienced Enneagram facilitator, and her passion is to facilitate people to discover and actualise their highest potentials in their personal and professional lives.

Tamara Pickard

related posts:

Coaching, Personal Development, Professional Development

Have you ever felt 'stuck' and unable to move forward? Perhaps you had people in your life telling you - [...]

The difference between fear and resistance.

Coaching, Personal Development, Professional Development

“That we are free to think or not to think, and to live responsibly or irresponsibly, reflects the essence of [...]

Responsibility For and To
  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Never miss an article.

    Subscribe and Save.

    Subscribe and you'll be the first to know when a new article is posted, you'll also receive special offers for our coaching and training programs.