By: Hank Provost
Does Mindfulness Belong in Executive Coaching?
Only within the last couple of decades have core competencies and skills been established for the practice of coaching with executives and other leaders. Based upon the work of the International Coaching Federation, executive coaches now have four core competencies supporting professional coaching practices:
- Setting the foundation
- Co-creating the relationship
- Communicating Effectively
- Facilitating learning and results
Perhaps most important to the work of the executive coach, but lost in the otherwise technical skills for coaching, is that of Coaching Presence. This skill, within the competency of Co-Creation, is defined as:
Ability to be fully conscious and create a spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.
ICC’s executive coaches believe Coaching Presence is essential to the success of their work with executives in their growth and development. So, could having a Mindfulness practice better support the development of that skill? The evidence is growing that there is a strong connection between a practice of Mindfulness and increasing our skills in creating presence with our clients.
If ‘presence’ involves being fully conscious with the client, then Mindfulness holds many of the qualities important to building that skill:
Mindfulness involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
– Jon Kabat-Zin
We’ll bring to this part of the discussion, ideas from several sources supportive for building a Mindful practice.
Using the assessment in the book, Well Being, create a personal plan for balancing your well-being in career, community, financial, physical, and social.
- Using a ‘client centered’ approach to working with your clients. Maintaining your authenticity as a coach means meeting your clients where they are, and then leading from there.
- Trying not to have negative emotions or thoughts, just simply doesn’t work. Paradoxically, acknowledging and accepting when negative emotions are present, dissipates them.
- Looking on the bright side and noticing even the smallest and most mundane things. The more attentive people say they are, the better they report feeling overall.
- Remembering that the clients are experts on their own experience, freeing you as the coach from having to know everything.
- Growing in our ability to develop and maintain relationships based on trust and empathy.
Working with senior leaders most definitely requires a competent use of skills in alignment, assessment, negotiation and holding accountability. We know those relationships that move to a deeper and trusting level also involves the coach and client in creating presence and valuing mindfulness.
Additionally, we would love to hear about ways in which you are building your practice.
 (2010) Rath, T., Harter, J. Well Being, The Five Essential Elements; Gallup Press, N.Y., N.Y.
 (2006) Stober, D.R., Grant, A.M. Evidence Based Coaching; Putting Best Practices to Work For Your Clients; John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Hoboken, N.J.
 (2016) Jazaieri, H. Which Mindfulness Skills Can Most Benefit You? (Internet)
 EQi 2.0, LeadershipCall.com