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An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is a process designed to maximize the potential of an organization’s leader. You might hire one of these professionals to meet with your upper-level managers and help them set and reach goals. Executive coaching can provide several advantages for your company.

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Basics of executive coaching

Executive coaching is a recognized specialty within professional organizations such as the International Coach Federation and the Association for Coaching. These associations have developed training practices for people who coach company leaders. Regardless of the method, all coaching models typically involve identifying the executive’s outlook, presenting various points of view, setting goals and planning ways to reach those goals. The objective is to support a CEO or business founder in running a company rather than to solve a company’s problems.

Corporate leadership coaching is usually confidential. The executive coach needs to gain the client’s trust, and privacy is a key element in this process.

Related:5 Steps to Creating an Effective Training and Development Program

What is CEO coaching?

CEO or executive coaching helps upper-level management develop leadership skills and identify areas of growth and improvement that can benefit the company. An organization might hire an executive coach as an unbiased third party to work with one or more company leaders. CEO coaching has many purposes, including:

  • Providing executives with an experienced professional who can listen to their thoughts and ideas
  • Helping CEOs become more self-aware
  • Identifying goals and objectives
  • Helping leaders discover their potential
  • Developing or enhancing leadership skills
  • Identifying areas of improvement
  • Discovering ways to achieve goals

The executive coaching process usually starts with a confidential interview, during which the coach asks questions, listens closely, offers different points of view and provides resources. Rather than provide direct advice or solutions, they guide executives toward finding clarity and overcoming obstacles themselves. Leadership coaches might also conduct behavioral assessments and 360-degree assessments to evaluate performance. They might also conduct problem-solving or brainstorming exercises and role-playing sessions to see how executives react in certain situations.

Executive coaches often provide clients with development plans to guide and track their progress. These plans typically include several achievable steps the executive should be able to achieve short-term. They’re designed to help the client meet their goals.

Coaches typically meet with executives in person, as face-to-face interactions help create a strong professional relationship and connection. They might follow up or track progress through phone and email conversations or video chat. Depending on the type of coaching program and the client’s needs, these meetings might occur a few times a month for anywhere from a few months to a year. Throughout the process, the coach will observe the executive’s progress and provide feedback and plans for success.

Leadership coaching for executives typically concludes when the client reaches their goals or the coach is satisfied with their progress. At the end of the process, coaches usually provide steps (a long-term development plan) for leaders to continue making gains going forward. They might recommend resources, training programs or seminars that can help the executive continue to develop skills. The coach might identify someone within or outside the company who can act as a mentor or confidant as needed going forward. They might also follow up several months after coaching has ended to discuss the executive’s current situation and answer any remaining questions.

Related:How to Create a Performance Improvement Plan

Tips about professional coaching

For professional coaching to be successful, the coach must be invested in the client and the client must trust the coach. Interview multiple certified or experienced coaches to find one you have good chemistry with. You might also want to select one who has experience in your industry. This individual is going to be your partner and should understand and empathize with your goals and challenges. You’ll know the executive coaching process has been successful when the things you’ve learned and the plan you’ve created translate into results or improvements at your company.

Executive coaching FAQs

Here are answers to some common questions about executive coaching:

  • Who needs executive coaching?
  • How much does executive coaching cost?
  • Why should I hire an executive coach?
  • How do I find an executive coach?

Who needs executive coaching?

You might need executive coaching if:

  • You have recently started a new business
  • You’ve been recently promoted to a leadership position
  • You’re being prepared for a promotion
  • You’re facing challenges at work

Companies often hire executive coaches when they want to invest in their leaders or as part of an in-house executive development program.

How much does executive coaching cost?

According to the Harvard Business Review, executive coaches charge $500 per hour on average. This figure can range, however, from $200 to upward of $3,500 an hour. Some charge a fixed fee for a six- to 12-month contract, while others work hourly. A six-month rate of $20,000 to $30,000 is a common price range for a well-qualified coach. Executive coaching prices vary based on the coach’s experience, whether they’re certified, industry type and program intensity.

Why should I hire an executive coach?

You might hire an executive coach for skills development, professional growth and learning purposes, or you might hire one to help a manager solve a problem. Some top reasons for hiring executive coaches include:

  • To develop leadership skills
  • To increase the chances that a new manager or executive will be successful
  • To correct management issues
  • To help managers find ways to resolve employee conflicts

How do I find an executive coach?

Other business leaders, particularly those in your industry, might be able to provide you with recommendations and referrals. To ensure you’re hiring a well-qualified coach who meets your needs, however, consider searching within a professional organization. The International Coach Federation, for instance, has a Find a Coach feature that can match you with certified coaches. The Co-Active Training Institute also has a search function from among more than 4,500 coaches, and the Association for Coaching provides a public member directory you can search by location and type.

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