What is executive coaching?

The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as

“partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.”

There are many types of coaches from health to executive or nutrition, marketing etc and it can all be quite confusing. This blog will give you some insight into the sorts of coaching I get involved in.

An executive coach works with people within organisations. This can be across any industry or profession and although coaches are often sought for their industry experience, this is not necessarily needed as, depending on the situation, an ‘outside’ view from someone with no preconceived ideas or assumptions can be extremely useful.

What is the difference between executive and business coaching?

This can vary according to individuals and the business involved. The word “business” usually refers to owner run businesses and they generally seek coaching to help them with specific challenges within the business as well as if they have ambitions to grow or want a succession plan. I work with business owners like this in the first instance, moving on to working with their teams or individuals, such as their second in command, directors or any employees that they have identified as talented and potential successors. Generally, such businesses expect that a coach has some business acumen, although it does happen that a business owner wants to look at stress, time management etc which works with more general coaching.

Executive coaching applies to executives working within larger organisations, both public sector, private sector and third and charitable. This can be with managers, directors and CEOs, although when a coach works with more senior people and C-level executives, they are seen as leadership coaches.

Here, topics such as time management, communication, strategic thinking, dealing with conflict, gravitas, developing leadership skills, overwhelm etc come up. When I work with leaders, conversations cover a broad range of subjects (often including family, future aspirations etc) and can be complex (covering relationships with investors, directors, stakeholders etc)

What is the difference between coaching and consulting?

If a coach is trained and follows the guidance and ethics of a coaching body, such as EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council or ICF, they will be able to hold conversations, ask careful questions and listen attentively so that the client can work through thoughts and challenges and find their own answers. As a coach who has worked with many executives, business owners, directors etc, I have gained a large amount of insights into people facing similar challenges and will offer ideas and suggestions according to observation from previous work (and my own career experience), but never to ‘tell’ someone how to do it. One solution rarely fits all, and it’s essential that the individual works out what’s best for them.

A consultant will likely be more ‘tell’ and shape plans to address certain problems, projects in the organisation or business. Generally a consultant will be called in to look at a specific subject, such as HR, redundancies, finance, to set up a system etc, whereas a leadership or executive coach works to shine a light on behaviours, people interactions, idea generation, gaining clarity on goal setting, transitions or periods of change (maternity, new leaders, aspiring talent ) offering tools and models that can be used sustainably.

And what is life coaching?

Life coaching can be for individuals seeking to change something in their lives. This can be from wanting to lose weight to finding a new job or develop their confidence. I generally don’t call myself a life coach as often people expect me to work on some topics that are not my area of experience, although a coach can have a coaching conversation on any topic as it is all about helping people identify and achieve their goals and should be led by the person being coached. As an executive and leadership coach, I of course find conversations covering personal life, own hopes and aspirations and relationships outside of work. As all my coaching conversations are absolutely confidential, clients feel comfortable to share and no human being is just the person they turn up as at work. They are also the person at home, with their family or friends and to change something at work, there may be particular scenarios at home that affect it.

As a coach, I believe in the potential and resourcefulness of all individuals and use coaching tools, questions and listening to help people work out what they want and make sense out of complexity. I absolutely love coaching people, whether individuals or teams (and that’s a whole other blog!).

This is a bit of a whistle stop tour of coaching, so if you have any questions whatsoever, do get in touch, I’m always happy to chat about my favourite subject!

Email catrinmac@gmail.com