What is an Executive Coach

Bob Oberlietner, Executive Coach for Federal Employees, Writes About What Exactly an Executive Coach is

Oberlietner

More commonly organizational leaders are working with an executive coach in both the private and public sectors to improve their leadership effectiveness. Unless you have had coaching yourself, you may be asking “What exactly is executive coaching?” Or, “isn’t it really just mentoring by a different name?”

Executive coaching, also referred to as leadership coaching, is different from mentoring though both are valuable to leadership development. While there are similarities there are clear distinctions. Let’s take a look starting with mentoring.

In the practice of mentoring, mentees seek a senior leader to serve as an advisor to help develop their skills. The mentor provides experiential advice explaining how they would address an issue in order to help the mentee address challenges. One example of a mentor/mentee relationship is Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Obi-Wan, the sage Jedi taught Luke many things from his own experiences including how to use a lightsaber and control the force. He offered support and at times allowed Luke the space to work through challenges. Under Obi-Wan’s tutelage, Luke learned how to stand on his own.

However, in organizations, there are not enough Obi-Wans to work with all of the leaders who want direction. Additionally, have you ever received advice that just did not feel right or otherwise missed the mark for you? You are the only person who knows what feels right for you.

The International Coach Federation’s (ICF) definition of coaching is the “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” A coach serves as a confidential sounding board who is working in support of you. Your coach actively listens and is curious, asking questions that help you explore challenges. Coaching questions provide the space to look at situations in a new light and illuminate potential pathways there were not visible before. Armed with new insights you are supported to commit to the action that feels right to you.

A coach does not have to be from your professional field though it is best to select a coach who you are comfortable with.

Leaders report intangible benefits to coaching such as increased job satisfaction, stress reduction, as well as happier, more effective teams. Formal analysis has also been conducted. For example, in a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it was reported that companies using professional coaching have seen a return of 5 to 7 times their initial investment.  In an ICF study, 96% of those who had an executive coach said they would continue with coaching.

Leaders report intangible benefits to coaching such as increased job satisfaction, stress reduction, as well as happier, more effective teams. Formal analysis has also been conducted. For example, in a study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, it was reported that companies using professional coaching have seen a return of 5 to 7 times their initial investment.  In an ICF study, 96% of those who had an executive coach said they would continue with coaching.

Like Luke, we all have the ability to grow and reach our goals. Working with an executive coach enhances your ability to see the path that is most suited to you. Coaching will help you control the professional “forces” you encounter and help you be the “jedi” leader you were meant to be.

The "Coach's Corner"  Articles are written by Robert Oberleitner, executive coach.  Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse the opinions or services of Robert Oberleitner.

What is an Executive Coach

What is an Executive Coach?