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Executive Coaching Demystified – All Coaching Is Not Equal


“I have a theory that it is not good to give people the truth. The thing to do is to help them to discover the truth about themselves for themselves ”.

Abraham Maslow


Hey, Jay here from The Coaching Room, thanks for checking this article out. If you’re interested in Executive Coaching but are not sure if it’s right for you? Then read on.

This article will help you understand what Developmental Executive Coaching is and what it is not so that you can get really clear on the difference between Developmental Executive Coaching and other avenues of personal and professional development, and determine what is best for your situation.

Around the world, Executive Coaching, also synonymous with “Leadership Coaching”, which is typically confused with training, mentoring, therapy, counseling, and/or consulting.

Executive Coaching is none of these things. If you’re receiving Executive Coaching, and your coach is in the business of advising, telling, fixing, or recommending, chances are you aren’t working with a coach, you are working with a trainer, mentor, therapist or consultant.

Executive Coaching is not right for everyone in every situation. Just like how if you were to run into legal trouble tomorrow, you probably wouldn’t start a training program in law, but rather you might engage a consultant to provide some advice; it’s important to understand when and what specific type of development to use for each situation.

So to begin with, what are these different types of avenues of personal and professional development and when would you pick that avenue?

  • Training – Are you looking for general skills you want to develop for yourself?
    Training is a process designed to teach and instruct a person through a process to perform a new set of skills. Training is useful if you would like to learn and develop a “how to” skill set that is relatively generic in its application to all, for example, sales training, customer service, new IT software, etc.
  • Mentoring – Are you looking for inside information you want to benefit from?
    Mentoring is a process that involves a mentor giving specific advice; guidance and sharing his or her own personal story, view, and approach to another person. Mentoring is useful when you want to model and copy a specific person’s expertise and approach and benefit from the inside knowledge of someone who has “been there and done that” before. This relies on what has worked for the mentor also working for you.
  • Therapy or Counselling – Are you looking for a way to fix a personal remedial problem?
    Therapy or counseling focuses on a person’s problems, symptoms, and sources, and how a person may be dysfunctional. Therapy is useful if you require healing of personal pains, re-parenting, or resolution from the past.
  • Consulting – Are you looking for expert advice for a specific issue or problem?
    Consulting involves the skill of giving advice and using one’s own expertise in a given field to recommend a client on what to do next and potentially how to do it. It is similar to mentoring in that the balance of expertise for your work/business lies with the consultant, but different in that the expertise being shared is based on a specific issue/problem/requirement that the consultant has expertise in.
  • Developmental Leadership and Executive Coaching is a process that helps you close the gap between how you are currently showing up in the world, and how you want to be showing up. When you engage a coach, you gain a greater awareness of how you are currently thinking, feeling, and behaving and how this may be inhibiting you from realizing your goals or outcomes.
    As mentioned at the start, most of the time coaching is confused with training, mentoring, therapy, counseling, and consulting. So now you know a little more about each avenue, how is coaching different exactly from the other avenues?
  • Developmental Executive Coaching is generative, not remedial
    Executive Coaching is not about “fixing problems” it’s about generating your potential, excellence, and peak performance on the inside (thoughts, feelings, beliefs) and outside (behaviors) of you or your team. Executive Coaching awakens, disturbs, challenges, and stretches you to unleash more and more potential talents and possibilities. It is highly confrontative, direct, and explicit whilst being completely non-judgemental.
  • Developmental Executive Coaching is about facilitating your expertise, not the Coaches
    Executive Coaching is about facilitating your excellence and finding your own answers. As the quote from Maslow, at the start of this article references, Coaching understands the fundamental principle that helping you discover your answers is far more effective than telling you what to do.
  • Developmental Executive Coaching is exploratory, not advice giving
    Executive Coaching is a conversation that explores with non-judgment how you perform a task, an emotion, a belief, a relationship, a business, or a life. It’s a fierce conversation that gets to the heart of things, to the heart of your frames of meaning, to your beliefs, world view, self-view, view of others, to allow you a heightened self-awareness to maximise your ability to show up the way you want to.
  • Developmental Executive Coaching is clean feedback, not evaluative
    An executive coach listens to you in order to give the cleanest and purest feedback, without the coach’s personal evaluations, so that a person can see him or herself as if in a mirror. An Executive Coach sees, detects, and identifies patterns in behavior and thinking and then offers insightful questions and explorations so that the person can see and discovers their own leverage points and make the changes they are ready to make.

So that’s what Executive Coaching is, now you may be asking do I need an executive coach?

Here is a quick checklist to see if it’s for you.

Do you:

  • Want a process that will help you to evolve by shifting you or your team’s inner resources that govern your behaviors and how you relate to others and the world?
  • Want an environment that will enable you to facilitate your own evolution?
  • Have the ego strength to face what is in the world?
  • Show up as fully able to be an adult in thinking, feeling, accepting, and responsibility?
  • Not need “fixing” or any remedial solutions, but want generative change?
  • Embrace change, want it, plan for it, get excited about it?
  • Show up as proactive, open, disclosing, and self-aware?

If you said YES to all of the above, then it may be worth your time having a conversation with an Executive Coach.


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