Grow Your Business

Executive Coaching

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive Coaching provides content, processes, and attitudes to help leaders improve and sustain results.

Leaders are already highly-effective people in positions with significant responsibility. They might run large companies, have profit and loss responsibility for divisions in companies, start-up a venture-backed enterprise, be transitioning to a new role, be launching an ambitious new product or project, or lead hundreds of employees.

Executives are seasoned, often highly educated, and have a track record of significant achievements. Ambitious executives can benefit from an objective, trusted adviser with a toolkit that can help them continue their success and overcome ever-larger hurdles.

As an Executive Coach, we help these high-powered people get results because they have content, processes, and attitudes that improve performance, typically in a series of short, high-impact meetings over time.

We use a toolkit of distinctions, frameworks, and definitions that help executives see challenges and situations in new ways and develop flexibility and effectiveness in how they get results.

The most common areas of content include:

  • Setting and achieving goals
  • Influencing others
  • Communicating powerfully
  • Eliminating blind spots
  • Motivating employees
  • Building alliances
  • Thinking strategically

As your Executive Coach

We use processes that help you get results in a short amount of time. These processes include a series of coaching conversations that create “BFO” (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious) moments for you. Sometimes the coach does this by asking questions through a process of inquiry. Other times we will make direct suggestions and engages in dialogue with you. Similarly, as your coach, we often provide 360-degree feedback, assessments, and other forms of data to make the case to our clients for the need to improve and change.

The Executive Coach also models a set of attitudes that create a context and environment for improving performance. These attitudes include complete professionalism, a focus on results, and a stand for our clients’ most ambitious aspirations.

Ultimately, as your coach, we are measured by our clients’ improved and sustained results. Results are measurable performance improvements, and the Executive Coaching process always includes metrics to track performance over time. However, the results alone are not sufficient. The right Executive Coach gets results that last. In other words, he or she doesn’t just step in and do the work for the client or create a brief uplift in performance. Instead, they make a lasting shift in the client to develop new capacities to perform.


Executive coaching overlaps with yet differs from business coaching. Both disciplines focus on getting results in organizations, recruiting and developing talent, building teams, and achieving extraordinary results. However, the business coaching client primarily needs to create a viable business that runs without them. He or she probably runs a more straightforward operation with fewer resources than the executive coaching client. Sometimes (but not always!) they don’t have the level of business sophistication of the typical executive coach. If the business coaching client is steering a 20′ boat, the executive coaching client is steering a Cruise Ship.


While the executive coaching client often gets caught up in fighting daily fires, he or she lives or dies based on getting results through people, recruiting and developing talent, thinking and planning strategically, and navigating the organization’s complex politics. He or she probably (but not always!) already have a viable organization with systems that provide leverage and now needs to take the organization and its people to the next level.

In Other Words

Compared to the business coach, the Executive Coach tends to focus much more on strategic planning and leadership capabilities than on the basic tactics for growing revenue and profits. Because of this focus, executive coaches often find themselves working in large for-profit enterprises and at universities, non-profits, foundations, and government entities.

Executive coaching also must be distinguished from therapy, training, mentoring, facilitator, and consulting. While the best executive coaches wear the hat of the trainer, mentor, facilitator, and consultant (but not therapist) when appropriate, these activities are very different from executive coaching.

Therapy is a medical service that requires a specialized license. Therapists have skills in delving into a client’s past, uncovering traumas, and resolving mental health issues like depression, neuroses, personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and other serious mental conditions. Executive coaches may probe a bit about limiting beliefs that a client has and get into the client’s past – but generally in relatively simple ways. If a client exhibits signs of serious depression (e.g., threatening to cause harm to him or herself or others) or other mental illness, the executive coach must refer the client to the appropriate medical professional.

At the same time, executive coaches often find that their clients share issues about their health, marriage or romantic relationships, a recent death or tragedy in the family, financial concerns, and similar personal issues. The executive coach is not a marriage counsellor, financial planner, or alternative health specialist. While they should listen to and empathize with these concerns (as distractions outside of work always impact performance at work), the coach must clarify to the client when an additional professional’s intervention might be appropriate.



Training is an activity that involves working with people to improve behaviours and attitudes, generally through repetition and practice. The executive coach can wear a trainer’s hat, especially to introduce a new skill, role-play, and rehearse with the client. (In fact, many executive coaching engagements lead to assignments to provide a training session for the executive or management team). However, while training programs are often “off-the-shelf” and scripted, executive coaching is much more customized and improvisational.


Mentoring happens when a seasoned executive guides a less seasoned person. The mentor has “been there and done that.” He or she shares subtle wisdom and insights with the “mentee” and often opens doors. Mentor relationships can be formal (as when the HR department assigns mentors) or informal (e.g., the wise executive always seeks out mentors). The executive coach can use mentoring from time to time as a way to share war stories and examples from his or her experience. However, the coach is more of an equal and trusted adviser than a mentor. Mentoring is one of the many tools that the coach uses.




Facilitators help groups reach clarity and make decisions. The best executive coaches know when to offer their services as facilitators. For instance, many executive coaches facilitate strategic retreats, project kick-offs, and executive team meetings when asked. They also mediate the conflict between members of the executive team when appropriate. Again, facilitation is a skill that comes in handy for the executive coach but is not executive coaching.


Finally, consulting is a more in-depth, lengthy process than coaching. Consulting involves diagnosing an organizational challenge, conducting analysis, and solving challenges on behalf of the client. Most consultants provide coaching as part of their engagement, especially when they present findings one-on-one to their client and help them confront the need for change and how to make a change. Similarly, many executive coaches do some consulting, for instance, when they research to understand whether an executive team is aligned or assess a company’s leadership development process. However, executive coaches, for the most part, require the client to conduct their own research, draw their own conclusions and set their own path. The coach is there to ask powerful questions, make suggestions and observations when appropriate, provide tools, and lead the client towards a successful course of action and improvement. Coaching is a more focused, intense activity. However, the more that the coach can think like a consultant, the more powerful their questions and advice will be.​


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