Get Inside the Mind of an Executive Coach

 In Blog

By: Jodi Grossman

Are you or your company considering working with an executive coach? In making your decision, would it help you to know what an executive coach thinks about when they first meet with a potential client, how they prepare for coaching sessions, what goes on while they’re coaching, and what they contemplate afterward to ensure they’re supporting their client’s leadership development needs in the best way possible? Buckle up, because you’re about to take a ride through the mind of an executive coach!

Meeting a Prospective Client
An executive coach wants clients who will be wide open to feedback about limiting behaviors as well as effective ones, is 100% committed to optimizing their leadership performance and doing the work necessary to get there, is willing to take risks with trying new behaviors, and can engage honestly and authentically with the coach. It doesn’t really matter if the leader is inexperienced, recently promoted, identified as a high-potential, or has a destructive leadership style – as long as the above criteria exist. An executive coach prepares for the exploratory conversation by thinking up a raft of questions to assess these client characteristics.

Preparing for a Coaching Session
An executive coach prepares for a coaching session by reflecting on . . .

  • the client’s definition of success for the coaching engagement
  • the business results their client is accountable for
  • the client’s leadership strengths and derailers
  • the client’s company culture and political dynamics
  • the client’s team and how well they work together
  • the client’s work and personal values
  • the information gleaned from the client’s 360 or any other assessments

. . . and then forming a loose and flexible agenda for the coaching session. The coach knows the client will be in the driver’s seat during their meeting, but still may need to think quickly to guide the client’s focus on the leadership behaviors and actions needed to deliver business results.

During a Coaching Session
In the coaching session, the coach uses their head and gut to come up with deep questions, listens intently to the client’s responses, and probes for further clarity.  In doing so, the coach enables the client to come up with their own revelations, fresh perspectives, and ideas for action that they may not have been able to access without the coach’s support. Coaches typically don’t tell their clients what to do to be a better leader; they help the client create and own their leadership development, and they’re constantly figuring out in real-time how to do that.

After a Coaching Session
An executive coach is all about helping clients improve performance, so they reflect on how well – or not – they supported the client to move the needle. A coach contemplates, “How did the client respond to the coaching? What questions worked well, what could I have done differently, what could I have asked that I did not – and why? What would I change the next time we meet? What follow up between now and the next session would benefit the client? What’s my gut telling me about how the client showed up that I will investigate next time we meet? What did I do/did not do to help my client become more self-reliant?”

Now that you have some insight into the mind of an executive coach, are you ready to engage a coach for you or your company? Still not sure? We’d be happy to have you pick our brain!

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