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Executive coaching aims to achieve improved business performance or efficiency through working with individuals within the business, facilitating positive development of their thinking, behaviours and impact. The coach will use questioning and active listening techniques, together with other tools and resources, to help increase their client’s self awareness and encourage them to take effective forward action. In executive coaching, the coach will often have two stakeholders – the business or sponsor and the individual client.
No, although a coach can sometimes also offer a degree of mentoring as part of the coaching. Mentoring involves passing on the mentor’s knowledge and experience where it is helpful to the mentee’s situation, and it can also involve offering other support such as access to the mentor’s network. Coaching involves facilitating the client’s generation of their own ideas and thoughts about the way in which they can move forwards. So a coach with experience relevant to their client’s role or situation might also be able to act as a mentor.
Counselling is past and problem focused, delving into the “why” and the background to the issue. Coaching is focused on the future and on the solution.
The quality of the relationship between coach and client is the single most important factor in determining the success of the coaching. You will have what is commonly termed a “chemistry meeting” up front with a proposed coach (free of charge) and you should ideally meet more than one potential coach. During this meeting you will have a chance to get a greater understanding of what coaching is, what it can potentially achieve, and to raise any questions and concerns. You would use this session to determine whether you believe you can work together. You must feel that your coach is a “good fit”. If in doubt, go with your instincts and never be scared to ask to meet another coach.
It will expect of you a lot of commitment, honesty and introspection. Coaching will demand some of your valuable time, not only for the sessions but also for the thinking, actions or changes you commit to during the coaching. You will be asked to be open, both in terms of sharing your thoughts but also in terms of being willing to explore new possibilities, sometimes challenging your existing beliefs, habits and assumptions. It will also expect you to take decisive action.
Your coach will challenge you to try to do things differently and that can feel both liberating and uncomfortable. You will not have to talk about issues that you don’t want to discuss although your coach may express a view that the issue is “blocking” you in some way. Throughout your coaching and the challenges it presents, you will be supported and encouraged by your coach.
Coaching sessions will either take place at your workplace or at an offsite venue, whether in a meeting room or a more informal setting. Generally, an offsite venue provides a more conducive environment for coaching, allowing you to focus without the usual interruptions or distraction of the office. Coaching can also take place via video conference (Skype) or on the phone. However face-to-face coaching tends to be more effective, particularly at the start of a coaching programme.
Each coaching session will typically last 1½ hours. Timing will depend entirely on the circumstances and on your needs as client so sessions can last longer than this but are rarely less than 1 hour. You will be offered phone contact between coaching sessions and such calls will usually last 15 to 30 minutes.
Sessions will usually take place every 3 to 4 weeks. Some clients may find there are situations that warrant more frequent meetings and that can be agreed when necessary.
Yes. Everything you tell your coach is entirely confidential. The coach will not share what is said in your sessions with anyone, including your sponsor or line manager, without your express permission. If your organization is funding your coaching, you will agree up front the reporting mechanisms and measures for success so that you, your coach and your sponsor are clear on what information will be shared.
A typical coaching programme will be delivered over anything between 6 to 12 months. Most clients find that this timeframe gives them sufficient time to put learning outcomes from the coaching into practice. Equally it should be long enough to allow you as client to develop a degree of self-sufficiency, using tools and techniques you have acquired through the coaching, to continue to develop following completion of the programme.
Some clients do choose to have ongoing coaching but this is less usual and a finite programme helps you and your coach commit to achieving your desired results.
Measuring the success of coaching can be challenging but primarily, success should be seen and experienced by you, your sponsor and your colleagues in the noticeable improvements in your performance. At the outset of your coaching programme, you can agree some success measures with your coach. Your coach will always seek feedback both during and at the end of the programme to ensure you and your sponsor (where applicable) are happy with the results.
Please contact me to have an exploratory discussion or if you have any questions.
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