Coaching made its appearance in the 1960s in the United States in the world of theater and cinema: the coach is the one who trains and rehearses. Then, coaching gradually spread to the business world during the 80s, until it became popular in France in the 90s.
Executive coaching is defined as personalized support that aims to help executives and managers to identify and put in place by themselves the means necessary to achieve their objectives.
It is important to specify that it is neither training, a counseling service, nor psychological help. It is described as a behavioral approach.
Who is executive coaching for?
As its name suggests, executive coaching is aimed at business leaders, senior executives or business unit managers. This support is suitable for both private and public companies and self-employed workers.
Why hire an executive coach?
Executive coaching helps to develop a clear strategic vision, with the aim of achieving specific objectives. It is therefore wise to call on a coach when a leader feels that his professional environment is in the midst of a crisis when he feels overwhelmed by a situation that he alone can resolve. Sometimes a leader may feel the need to simply think out loud with someone they trust, in order to clarify their motivations, ambitions, and strategies.
The executive coach can also intervene when the executive is confronted with a new environment, unusual or intercultural for example. It will allow you to share your perceptions and strategic questions. This type of coaching also responds to a need for support when the manager is going through a professional or organizational transition where the executive stakes are crucial.
In all cases, executive coaching allows you to get out of solitude, take a step back from your actions, and think aloud, in a strictly confidential environment in order to avoid any form of stress that would lead to depression or worse, a real burn-out.
Examples of goals for which to hire a coach
- Develop your leadership
- Learn to organize better
- Improve team cohesion
- Know how to better manage conflicts
- Understand the behavioral and perceptual dimensions
- Learn to communicate better
- Acquire the skills necessary to evolve
- Dealing with burnout and work pressure
- Increase productivity and results
- Supporting your professional transition
Who is the executive coach?
There is no legally required diploma to declare oneself a coach and exercise this type of support, which can cause a certain mistrust with regard to this practice. However, there are many competency frameworks related to executive coaching, such as the one provided by the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC).
In general, a professional executive coach has specific skills in areas such as psychology, personal development, or human resources management training. But the effectiveness of coaching depends above all on the relational qualities of the coach himself, such as his empathy, his ability to put his interlocutor in confidence, and finally to know how to listen and understand. Without forgetting that the coach must master the support process in order to guarantee progress towards the set objective.
The coach is not a trainer, a therapist, or a friend, but a professional who helps to reflect. Needless to say, the coach must remain neutral in all circumstances, never pass judgment, and never seek to influence the coachee.
What are the objectives of the executive coach?
The executive coach always has the same objective: to help the coachee find the answers and solutions to his problems on his own. The coach is aware of the potential of the creativity of the person he is helping. He knows that the coached leader can find a solution to his problem on his own. Its role is to assist it in this reflection while encouraging it to demonstrate its talents and mobilize its resources.
The role of the coach is in no way to provide solutions to the coachees but, on the contrary, to accompany them in their thinking until their own solutions emerge. Clearly, a good coach is above all a good guide.
The stages of executive coaching
In general, executive coaching lasts 6 to 12 months, with several interviews with the coach each month, depending on the needs and problems encountered. The implementation is done on the long term in order to adapt it according to the evolutions and the progression.
Once the leader has identified one or more specific objectives to achieve, coaching is most often divided into three stages.
Step 1: Awareness and identification of practices to be corrected
During the first stage of coaching, the leader or manager is led to ask the following questions: Who am I? How do I work? What is my direction?
This essential stage of coaching aims to make the leader aware of certain things. This reflection guided by the coach makes it possible to realize more clearly the obstacles to its objectives, the gaps, or any inconsistencies. When the leader becomes aware of his problems, he will find the solutions more easily.
Step 2: Reflection and practice
Following this realization, the support of the manager continues step by step, thanks to different coaching techniques.
During this stage, the main axis is to think about solutions to achieve its objective. The role of the coach is not to intervene to propose ready-made solutions, but to help the leader to reflect so that he can find the solutions that suit him. In addition to practicing active listening, the coach must ask the right questions to guide and move the thinking forward.
Then, the leader will begin to implement small changes in his personal functioning or within his company. Over the course of the sessions, the leader applies managerial changes in order to achieve his objectives, always with the help of the coach, who remains present until the end of the process.
Step 3: Adopting new habits
The application of long-term solutions is the last orientation of the coaching sessions. The ultimate goal of these sessions is to affirm the changes undertaken in the mind of the leader, who must learn to stick to his new course of action while keeping his objectives in mind.
These small accumulated changes will have positive consequences on the professional performance and the well-being of the leader and the company.