Executive coaching is a key method that can be applied as part of an organizational business practice and consulting intervention. It entails a coach working one-on-one with executives to help them learn how to manage and lead and to assist them to establish, structure, plan for, and lead the executives’ organization.
In this brief explanation we will put forth and exemplify a working definition of Executive Coaching: what it is, how it is similar and different from other forms of coaching, what principles should guide its practice, and what it takes for a coach to apply it successfully. In addition, further article explores the implications of this definition for the training, selection, practice, and continued development of professionals who apply Executive Coaching in their consulting practices.
THE ORIGINS OF COACHING
The etymological origin of the word coaching derives from the proper name of the Hungarian village of Kocs and the more comfortable, covered wheeled wagon or carriage (koczi) first developed there to carry its passengers through the harsh terrain, protected from the elements on their way from their point of departure to their ultimate destination. Over the centuries, the term itself traveled along several roads of use, from academic coaching (to carry the student more safely through exams) to sports coaching (to carry the athlete through practice, the game, and the competitive season). Executive Coaching is just one more evolution of the term where a coach helps to carry an executive from one point to another, from the situation where he or she wants to leave from to the desired state and circumstances known as the goal.
WHAT IS EXECUTIVE COACHING?
Executive coaching is an individualized, experiential process and leadership development that forms a leader’s capability to reach short-term and long-term organizational goals. It is conducted through one-on-one communications, determined by information from multiple perspectives, and grounded in mutual trust and respect. The organization, an executive, and the executive coach work in partnership to achieve maximum learning results and desired impact.
This type of coaching can be provided by the executive’s superior, a peer, a professional expert for human resources within the organization of the executive, or an external consultant. In its most strict way, an executive coach formally contracts with an executive and his or her organization to work in a collaborative partnership with the executive and others involved to achieve identified business results and the executive’s learning objectives in terms of the organization. Such a formal contract needs to incorporate ground rules, time frames, defined goals, and specific measures of success. Regardless of these formal guidelines and who is providing the Executive Coaching, what actually counts in the coaching process is driven by its objectives, the needs and preferences of the executive and the business context. It may include the following approaches:
- changing attitudes and habits
- developing skills
- preparing and developing for future assignments
- defining and implementing one’s leadership charter
- Identifying and implementing business goals and strategies.