Rewards from coaching

The benefits of getting an executive coach are often explored in magazines like Forbes and Huffington Post and here at Executive Coach Exchange, for example by Trish Kelly.

As someone who had a fantastic coach myself, I frequently reflect on what can be gained at the individual and the organisational level from executive coaching and mentoring.

Recently, however, I was asked how I benefit from being an executive coach and mentor. On reflection, I think the rewards for me fall into three areas: intellectual, professional and socio-cultural.

Catherine Burrows, Co-founder

At an intellectual level, coaching and mentoring are challenging to the mind. Whether you are working with a seasoned CEO or an aspiring leader, your clients are professionals with their own organisational context and their own world views. Each client trusts you to help them find better ways of working and new approaches to their jobs. That’s why being a coach and mentor is such an intellectually challenging and interesting occupation.

At the professional level, being a coach and mentor keeps you current. You can learn a great deal about how organisations operate right now from your client, which is particularly revealing if they work in a field or type of organisation which is unlike the areas where you worked as an executive. In fact, you can learn as much from your client as your client does from the experience and expertise you bring to the process. Consulting with clients as a mentor leads you to reflect on your own previous performance as an executive. It makes you question where you could have improved, why you responded to particular situations as you did and what you might have done differently, given the benefit of hindsight.

The third level is socio-cultural. Working as an executive coach and mentor gives you an opportunity to work in many different kinds of organisations, with a wide range of interesting people whose work and life experience may be very different from your own. It gives you the chance to explore ideas and concepts with people who might think quite differently from you. It allows you the opportunity to really listen while people find their own approaches to the issues they are encountering in their work. While workplace issues often share similar elements, each client is unique and their approaches to their organisations, teams, colleagues and leaders are therefore also unique.

Working as an executive coach and mentor is a privilege. It is challenging, rewarding and interesting and gives you the opportunity to improve workplace performance, one client at a time.

Contributor: Dr Catherine Burrows is a Sydney-based executive coach, available in Wollongong, Newcastle, Western NSW and other areas by arrangement. Catherine is a co-founder of Executive Coach Exchange and the CEO and owner of Innoverum independent consulting.

Homework – a perennial coaching issue

All executive coaches have encountered clients who commit to doing follow up work but don’t complete it. As a colleague of mine said, “A coach should not accept this, without interrogating the situation. It’s essential to find out why.”

There are several possibilities and the simplest is that life got in the way. Working with adults means working with people who have competing priorities, and sometimes even the keenest client has priorities which can take precedence. It’s important to be accepting of this situation. Work with your client to ensure they are still committed to their follow-up work and help them establish a new timeline.

Another possibility is common to coaching, teaching and managing staff: misunderstanding. You need to check that you and your client actually shared an understanding of what was expected. If not, this issue sits squarely with you as the coach. Part of your job is to ensure that understanding is shared.

But what about when you and your client share a good understanding of the task, they have time to do it, but your client does not complete the work?  I decided to take a look at the approaches other executive coaches took when they encountered this situation. Underlying most of their approaches was ensuring that you, as coach, understand why your client has not followed through rather than making assumptions.

I recently found an excellent article by Tony Stoltzfus. Stoltzfus sets out five steps to take when this happens:

  1. Check for Buy-in
  2. Identify and Troubleshoot Obstacles
  3. Reset for Next Week
  4. Nail Things Down Tighter
  5. Reconnect with Their Motivation.
I didn’t sign up for homework …

Working with Bob* was an unusual experience. Bob approached coaching with great wariness, although he was always involved in each session. Although coaching was not mandatory for Bob, I thought he might have felt pushed into participating. It seemed unlikely that he was committed to the process. Repeatedly, Bob made a commitment to undertake follow-up actions, which he suggested for himself, and repeatedly he failed to follow through.

It seemed that Bob’s enthusiasm, which he brought to every session, waned the moment he walked out the door. Even when he tried to follow through, he always encountered impenetrable barriers. Bob was charming, courteous and warm but I came to realise that he was simply not ready for coaching. (See Matt Brubaker and Chris Mitchell for more on clients who aren’t ready for coaching, and our article on what makes a client coachable.)

When Annette* came to a session without having completed an action she had agreed to, I decided to use respectful listening techniques to discover what sat behind this. The first question I asked myself, referencing Stoltzfus’ article, was whether this was an action the client came up with, or one I had suggested. On reflection, I realised it had come from me. When Annette had asked for ideas about how to move forward on a particular issue, I had suggested a piece of homework for her to try.

It was clear at our next meeting that she had considered and rejected the action, so it was important to find out why. This led to a transformational conversation about her view of her organisation and her role in it.

Annette’s reaction led her to a realisation that this homework was based on a direction she no longer wanted to pursue. In rejecting the homework, she had come to recognise something she had not understood before.

The issue went way beyond the particular piece of work. It led her to reconsider her future directions both within and beyond the organisation. She set new follow-up actions which aligned with her new goals and which she completed with panache. As Stoltzfus writes, “Sometimes you’ll uncover an important obstacle, and find that dealing with that obstacle was much more transformational than the original action step itself.”

I believe the best approach is to be pre-emptive, wherever possible. One strategy I use when setting homework with my clients is to remind them that they can reframe or reject outright any suggestion I might have, before it becomes a follow-up action. So even when they ask for a suggestion, this does not mean they are obliged to accept it.

When a client expresses doubt about an action, I ask the questions that my own coach once asked me: “What’s standing in your way? What’s stopping you from trying this?” My clients’ answers range from, “Nothing. I’m going to try this out,” to “That would never work in my organisation.”

When I get the second answer, I ask them to talk to me about what’s going on. The answer can be far more revealing than any outcome from a single piece of homework and add great insights for you and for your client.

Contributor: Dr Catherine Burrows is a Sydney-based executive coach, available in Wollongong, Newcastle, Western NSW and other areas by arrangement. Catherine is a co-founder of Executive Coach Exchange and the CEO and owner of Innoverum independent consulting.

*Clients mentioned in this article are amalgams of actual clients and no actual names have been used.

How executive coaching can benefit employees

Executive coaching can assist individuals in the performance of their current role, in identifying and pursuing their career aspirations and can assist them to improve their professional relationships.

Trish Kelly executive coach
Trish Kelly, executive coach

For executive coaching to be successful there are some essential foundational elements from the individual’s perspective that need to be in place. The first is that the individual needs to be open to taking part in the coaching experience to learn and grow. Another essential aspect is that there needs to be the right “chemistry” between coach and coachee.  In other words the coachee needs to feel comfortable enough with their coach to be able to open up and discuss and pursue their issues and goals in a frank and honest way.

The following case study shows how coaching assisted an individual to navigate issues they were dealing with in their role.

Peter* was unhappy in his role and felt unsupported by his supervisor.

During the coaching sessions, Peter was able to unpack the situation. He began to more clearly articulate the different issues that were occurring and intersecting to make him feel unhappy and unsupported. This included some critical self-reflection and a new awareness and deeper understanding of how his own workplace communication and attitude was perceived by his supervisor. He realised this was a significant contributor to the situation.

As a result of focussed self-reflection, Peter was able to explore different options for addressing each of the issues he had identified and, most importantly, develop and prioritise an action plan to move forward with these options, including how he would modify his communication and interpersonal style with his supervisor.

Over a 6 month period, Peter progressively put his action plan in place. At each coaching session, he was able to reflect on the effectiveness of these strategies as he tried them our and openly discuss those that had worked and, equally, reflect on any that had not been as effective as hoped. In this way, he was able to keep moving forward with his plan.

In this particular situation, at the end of the 6 month period, Peter had a much more open and positive relationship with his supervisor and, as a result, had been able to develop and agree on a work plan and professional development plan for the next 12 months that provided clear direct and accountability and opportunities for further growth and development. This is turn led him to being happier in his role.

One of the key reasons for the success of this coaching assignment was Peter’s willingness to openly participate in the coaching process and to identify issues and develop solutions he owned and felt comfortable implementing.

Contributor: Our current featured member, Trish Kelly, is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector, working in very large organisations in both regional and central office roles.

Through her experience as the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the largest organisation in the southern hemisphere, Trish is well equipped to work with executives, aspiring leaders and others to support and guide them to achieve their goals and to maximise their performance and impact.

* ‘Peter’ is a blend of several clients.

Why executive coaching can add to your organisation’s bottom line

Trish Kelly executive coach
Trish Kelly, executive coach

Your staff are the most important resource for achieving your strategic directions and delivering results. Successful organisations have motivated, engaged and high performing staff and low staff turnover.

At the same time, employee related costs are one of the highest line items in the budget – if not the highest. That’s why it’s in your organisation’s interests to invest in strategies that grow staff capability and enhance staff engagement and retention.

While some managers may argue that coaching is an expensive strategy, the contrary is true. Because it is focussed on the coachee’s needs, and can quickly and flexibly assist them to discover how to address those needs, there is no “down time” in coaching sessions. Instead, the coachee can return to the workplace to implement the solutions they have developed. It is therefore a very cost-effective development strategy for the individual, and provides significant benefits to the organisation.

Coaching, when done well, is a powerful strategy which provides a safe and conducive space for personal reflection, growth and development. It engages the coachee in identifying the specific goals and issues they want to address. It empowers the coachee to take responsibility for their development and

  • assists them to identify and reflect on their goals,
  • allows them to identify their own learning needs and
  • builds their personal awareness of how they are perceived by others.

Coaching is also a highly effective professional development strategy because it is client-centric. The coachee works with the coach to discover and develop ideas and solutions to achieve their personal goals and address their personal issues. This encourages innovation: rather than a “text book” response to an issue, the coachee works with the coach to develop an individual intervention that is going to work for them in their particular context. This creates a sense of ownership, confidence and buy in from the coachee. They are therefore more likely to follow through on implementing their ideas and solutions.

Benefits to the broader organisation from coaching include:

  • improved relationships
  • fewer grievances
  • improved team work and productivity
  • improved quality of work and
  • improved staff engagement, job satisfaction and staff retention.

Many capability development strategies can assist with the identification of goals and how to make progress towards achieving them. The power of coaching is that it helps the coachee to become more personally aware of their possible blind spots, particularly those relating to their behaviour in the workplace and the impact this has on others. Their growing self-awareness frequently leads to the coachee having a “light globe” moment and identifying ways to make a fundamental shift in their approach to their work and the way they relate to others.

So in determining the best way to use the organisation’s capability development budget, executive coaching is definitely a cost-effective and results-driven strategy to include in the mix.

Contributor: Our current featured member, Trish Kelly, is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector, working in very large organisations in both regional and central office roles.

Through her experience as the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the largest organisation in the southern hemisphere, Trish is well equipped to work with executives, aspiring leaders and others to support and guide them to achieve their goals and to maximise their performance and impact.

Sometimes the bravest thing is just showing up

For me, what keeps executive coaching fascinating is how much I learn from the process and how inspiring my clients are. As the year draws to a close, I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned this year.

In 2017, my coaching practice has mainly been with aspiring and newly appointed leaders in the government and NGO sectors. Working with all these people has been such a rewarding experience.

My first lesson for 2017 has been a reaffirmation of how talented, committed and hard-working the people who work in the public sector and in NGOs are.

My second lesson has been a reminder of how effective executive coaching can be in assisting people to recognise, believe in and apply their own talents.

My third lesson has been the perennial one: how important asking the right questions is in executive coaching.

Executive Coach Exchange courageHowever, the client I learned the most from this year was one who found coaching extremely challenging. I am going to call them Lee.

Lee’s manager had referred them to coaching and, although their participation wasn’t mandatory, it was strongly encouraged. Building trust with a client is always important but my own experience of being coached showed me that it’s especially important when the client has been ‘volunteered’.

I could see straight away that Lee was very wary of the process. Despite a very encouraging shared conversation with their manager, with lots of positive comments, Lee was initially unwilling to share insights into the issues they were experiencing at work.

However, as time went by, things started to change. Lee became increasingly willing to talk through issues and, later, became committed to using coaching as a means to test new ideas and explore new approaches. At the end of the coaching process, Lee told me how much courage this had taken and let me know how pleased they were they had persevered.

The big lesson for me was that a client might come across as a difficult person, when actually they are showing a great deal of bravery just getting themselves to the table, before they can even begin the coaching itself. The more I thought about this, the more courage I thought this took.

Pushing yourself to do something so far out of your comfort zone takes guts and determination. It shows what you can really do when you try.

So, my biggest lesson for 2017 has been:

sometimes the bravest thing is just showing up.

Contributor: Dr Catherine Burrows is a Sydney-based executive coach, available in Wollongong, Newcastle, Western NSW and other areas by arrangement. Catherine is a Founding Partner of Executive Coach Exchange and the CEO and owner of Innoverum independent consulting.

Lee is a fictionalised amalgam of several clients.

When do you need a mentor, a coach or … a cheerleader?

Executive Coach Exchange mentor coach cheerleader
Photo: Paula Liverani-Brooks

I am not a morning person. And not being a morning person means that the last thing I want to do when I wake up and have to get ready while the rest of the world is sleeping is eating. Breakfast is not something I can do early. So my lovely husband prepares some slices of toast and puts them in a paper bag for me to eat when the sun rises and I start feeling human again. But that is not all he does … he also decorates them as you can see in the picture. He may not be an amazing artist but I have to say I look forward to looking at what he has prepared for the day – whether it is a prompt of the happiness that we feel on a Friday to some funny exchange we had the previous night to a reminder that he believes I am lovely, strong or funny (which for those of you who do not know me personally I truly am). He is able to capture that motivational angle and give me an extra push to take on the day with a bigger smile.

But cheerleaders are not all we need. In this complicated world we need all the help we can get. So here is my list of the type of people we should aim to have in our lives and a couple of hints.

The first is a coach. Most of us have or have had a coach in our professional lives. The coach is someone who helps you acquire skills, overcome challenges and improve your contribution. I prefer to have clear goals when I talk to my coach, as that way I can get more out of our conversation. I also like to have a coach that has lived through similar experiences to what I am going through, similar businesses and similar challenges and who has a clear understanding of my role and the expectations that come from it. Finding the right coach is not always easy so don’t be afraid to shop around until you find the one who is capable of providing you with what you are looking for.

A mentor is also incredibly helpful, they provide long term support, tend to have known you for a long time and have seen you through the highs and the lows. They can be a former boss or colleague with whom you were able to establish that special relation in which they shared wisdom and experience.

If you have found both a mentor and a coach you already are in a good place, so here are some more ideas of people that you can add to your support group.

A connector is someone that does just that, connects you to others, takes you to events and organises for you to meet people who can help with a particular challenge or just to view things slightly differently. Having moved to Australia without connections 10 years ago I was lucky to find many people kind enough to sacrifice their time to connect me to others and I am still deeply grateful to all of them.

A collaborator is someone who is in a similar situation to your own with similar interests and similar goals. With them you can share road blocks and successes and support each other. These are not too difficult to find and you may form friendships that may last more than the job you are in.

If you work in big organisations (but not only), chances are you also need a sponsor. They are the ones that have witnessed your work and are willing to go out and spread the good news and promote your profile. Personally I have always found this a difficult figure to find. My trick has been to try and think outside the box – they do not need to be your manager … or even your manager’s manager. They can be influential people outside your direct line that you have been sharing insights with, and having conversations after important meetings about how to address issues and ideas. I have found this an easier way to create a sponsor.

Of course, you also need a feed-back giver someone who through direct observation can give you honest and direct feedback. As this is even harder than a sponsor, my only advice is to find someone with whom you can lay down the rules of how the feedback will look like: should always be coming from a place of good intention and if you feel it is not you may decide not to accept it. It is easier when you can find more than one feed-back giver and if you practice often on this one.

The last one is the cheerleader or the encourager the one that provides motivation, support and recognition.

My husband is a great cheerleader but is also a very good feed-back giver, which means that one person can have more than one role. So if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with the list, see if you can use the same person for different roles.

My last recommendation is that once you have listed them all you make sure this amazing bunch of people is also diverse. And I am not only talking about gender. I am talking about race, experience, age – I am currently learning “lots” from a millennial feed-back giver. Make sure you surround yourself with different people who will be able to provide you with slightly different views. And while you are at it, also make a list of what role you can have in other people’s lives. At times just being a cheerleader for someone can make a huge difference in their day.

Contributor: Paula Liverani-Brooks is an HR consultant and executive coach, and the latest member of Executive Coach Exchange.

Dealing with difficult people in your meeting

Over the last two weeks, we’ve looked at planning your meeting, and running and reflecting on your meeting.

This week’s post is a more detailed look at dealing with difficult people in your meeting.

Executive Coach Exchange sheep pixabay malcolumbus
Don’t assume that everyone in your meeting will follow the flock.

It can be useful to think of your meeting attendees in 3 main groups.

  1. The disruptive

There are a number of factors which may lead meeting attendees to disrupt the agenda.

Some people will seek to dominate the meeting, out of habit or because they don’t recognise your authority or the validity of other viewpoints.  If this happens, it will mean that your voice and the voices of other attendees are not being effectively heard.

It’s your meeting – it’s important to enforce time limits, call for other points of view and actively manage someone who is dominating the discussion. Don’t let them become your focus; others in the room will want your meeting to be successful. If you keep focusing on the disruptive, you will give them control of the agenda.

Others will argue with the points you’re putting forward and it’s important to make an assessment of why this is happening.  We’ve written previously about the importance of distinguishing between obstructionists and sceptics, and embracing the genuine sceptics.  Part of this work will have to happen outside the meeting, but meetings themselves are a valuable source of information about the motivations of those who disrupt them.

Don’t expect to turn around disruptive behaviours in one session, but a consistent, assertive approach will see you getting your meetings back on track.

2. The disengaged

Bored? Distracted? Negative? Looking for a way out? Or uncomfortable with conflict?

It’s critically important not to just call out or disparage the disengaged as you risk causing someone who was temporarily distracted, unhappy or unconvinced, to move towards being a member of the disruptive group.

You also don’t know whether they are keeping a low profile due to conflict with other meeting attendees, or because their management’s viewpoint is not aligned with yours.

In our previous posts on meetings, we talked about planning for breaks to allow people to recharge and manage their distractions.  If you’ve done this and people are still appearing to be switched off, or holding side conversations, you need to take responsibility for bringing the focus of the distracted back to the meeting without engaging in personal criticism.

You may need:

  • to make a genuine call for input;
  • to allow time on the agenda for this group to present their opinions formally;
  • or it may be that you need to take tighter control of the agenda because this group has switched off – potentially because the disruptive group is dominating the conversation in a way that makes them uncomfortable or even distressed.

If you can gain understanding of whether the disengagement is due to personal or professional reasons, and whether it’s temporary or ongoing, you can address disengagement appropriately, maintaining the respect of the disengaged individuals and the group as a whole.

Most importantly, in planning for and dealing with the disruptive and the disengaged, don’t forget a third group:

3. Your supporters

Sometimes when the disruptive and the disengaged are taking up a lot of time and focus, it’s easy to take your supporters for granted.  However, you need to minimise the distractions posed by the other groups as it’s your supporters who will help you move through your agenda and achieve your goals.

In our change management series, we also wrote about looking at the motivations of your supporters.  When you are trying to achieve change through meetings, it’s important to understand why your supporters support you and to ensure you’re managing their concerns and interests appropriately, so that their support for you and your goals continues.

An executive coach can work with you to understand the motivations of your meeting group, work through scenarios and practice assertiveness skills to ensure that your meetings achieve your goals no matter who attends.

Dealing with different communication styles in the workplace

Do you feel you are often talking at cross purposes with your colleagues?

Have you experienced your reports reacting to your input in a confrontational way when you weren’t expecting it?

Or do you find that your managers don’t seem to understand the importance of the message that you’re trying to deliver?

Executive Coach Exchange communication unsplash pixabayThe significance of different communication styles in the workplace has been extensively discussed, but is easy to overlook at an individual, in-the-moment level when you really need to get your message across.

There are several useful diagnostic tools for communication styles, including this questionnaire from TP3 and this one from The Vantage Point. These can assist you in analysing your own communication style, but the issue of how to work well with colleagues with different styles can still present a challenge.

TP3 notes that it’s important not to use your communication style as an excuse not to interact as effectively as possible with colleagues who have different styles. This can be a challenge, especially for new managers who may be prone to thinking, “This is my style and my reports need to adapt to it”.

So, how can you address this issue?

Mark Goulston wrote this useful article giving some detailed, CBT-style suggestions on how to listen to colleagues when your communication styles don’t match. He points out , “… many of us see our conversational counterparts as lecturing, belaboring, talking down to us, or even shaming us (if we are venters and they are explainers) or as invasive, out of control, and overly emotional (if we’re an explainer and they’re a venter).”

The Harvard Business Review contributed these suggestions on how to work out, and work with, a manager’s communication style. The article recommends specific, explicit communications that take account of the manager’s communication style – including whether the manager may prefer a written report to a detailed conversation – in order to communicate effectively.

For managers, it’s important to remember that effective communication can help you get the best from your team. This article by Rosalind Cardinal points out that “managers with the most flexibility in style get the best outcomes from their people”.

An executive coach can help you tailor your own communication style to your colleagues’, and also work with you to understand, rather than merely react to, your colleagues’ different communication styles. Effective communication only becomes more important as you advance in your career and need to communicate effectively with senior management and stakeholders.  In future posts, we’ll also look at this issue in the context of working with boards.

Choosing a coach for a senior executive

In last week’s post, we looked at how to go about choosing a coach for yourself.  This week’s post is particularly aimed at human resources managers, who are deciding whether and how to choose an executive coach for a CEO or senior executive.

Executive Coach Exchange wocintechchat meeting
Photo: wocintechchat

Choosing a coach for someone else can be a difficult task. Not only do you need to find someone who will be a good fit for your executive, by challenging them in the right ways and helping them find their own solutions, but sometimes you need to decide whether engaging a coach is the right solution for this client.

Henna Inam suggests you consider a series of questions before deciding whether to engage a coach.

One area that Inam suggests you consider is the seniority of the person to be coached and if they are in a high potential or high impact role. “As individuals get promoted to executive levels, developmental feedback becomes even more important, more infrequent, and less reliable. After all, who wants to tell the emperor they have no clothes?” She points out that a coach can provide an impartial and truthful perspective when others in the organisation may be reluctant to do so.

Another aspect to consider is whether the executive is prepared to make the necessary commitment to coaching, both in terms of time and in terms of being open to the experience. While we agree that these are both important considerations, we think they are different in kind. Being prepared to find the time for coaching is essentially a matter of prioritisation by the executive.

Being prepared for “being vulnerable or open to developmental feedback”, as Inam puts it, requires a commitment of a completely different kind. We believe an HR manager needs to consider whether a prospective coach has the skills to help the executive respond positively to coaching in this way. We have written previously about the way in which a coach, having earned the trust of a client, can provide a safe and confidential place for the client to explore approaches to difficult problems, including ones of their own making.

Other aspects Inam considers to be important are when sustained change and a step-change are required in the leader’s behaviour. “Coaching helps them become self-aware about both the strengths they will bring to being successful in this new environment as well as what can derail them. It also helps them develop new skill sets required and become more agile to change.”

Two of our coaches at Executive Coach Exchange were formerly senior HR personnel, with responsibility for choosing coaches for other senior staff.

Marg Lennon was Vice President of HR and Organisational Development in an ASX 100 company. In considering a coach, she looked into the prospective coach’s qualifications, methodology, experience and their method for involving the client’s manager, where appropriate, because in most instances, the manager should be involved in helping set the goals for coaching.

Trish Kelly was General Manager HR in a huge public sector agency. Her first step was to ensure that both the executive and their manager were committed to coaching. She also ascertained their reasons for pursuing coaching, to enable her to make an appropriate short list of possible coaches. She had an initial discussion with potential coaches to assess whether their style and approach was likely to suit the executive, and then made sure the executive had an introductory meeting with the coach to check they were a good fit before formalising the arrangement.

Finally, from an HR perspective, it’s essential to undertake an evaluation of the coaching process and outcomes, using inputs from the coach, the executive’s manager and, most of all, from the executive. In this way, you can build up a set of criteria to help you choose the right coach for the right person at the right time.

What are you looking for in an executive coach?

Executive Coach Exchange doors pixabay qimonoAs you start your search for an executive coach, have you jotted down some ideas about what you are looking for?

  1. Guidance on a challenging work issue

Do you need help to make your communication with team members more effective? Or perhaps you are dealing with a person you just can’t seem to get along with? Working with an executive coach can provide you with insights on how to manage these situations, and on how to build and maintain effective relationships, which can provide you with huge benefits and make your workplace more rewarding and enjoyable.

2.  A mentor

A mentor is usually someone working in your organisation who can give you an insider’s view, while a coach usually comes from an external organisation. However, an executive coach who has worked in your industry or sector can be invaluable, bringing both objectivity and relevant experience, and combining the skills of coach and mentor.

  1. Career progression

Making the transition from team member to team leader is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do in your career. Reporting to a board for the first time can be a very daunting experience. An executive coach can assist you to adjust your approach to meet your new challenges.

  1. Leading organisational change

Today, organisational change is a constant. Leaders need to be able to establish a new course for their organisation and implement change effectively and efficiently. Managers at all levels of an organisation are expected to lead their teams effectively during times of organisational change. An executive coach can be a trusted ally who provides a confidential environment for you to test your concepts and work through the challenges of leading change.

  1. Help with career transition

Taking the big step to move a new career, either by choice or as the result of a redundancy, is extremely challenging, both emotionally and professionally. When you have been an expert in your field, the first year in a new sector can make you doubt your ability and question your self-confidence. An executive coach with experience in career transition can help you make your change successful.


Starting out with some ideas about what you are looking for will make it easier for you to find the right coach. Different coaches bring different skills and experience. Some coaches specialise in particular skills, like team building, or strategy and business planning. Others work with particular professions, such as lawyers or doctors, or particular sectors, like government. Others still focus on particular points in your career, like on-boarding or career transition. At Executive Coach Exchange you will find a diverse group of executive coaches who cover all these area and more.

Don’t make your plan too detailed and inflexible, however. A coach can shed new light on an old issue and help you see it differently. The process of working with an executive coach can be a catalyst for change.