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Executive Coaching for Leadership Development: The Ultimate Guide

The Highrise Team
August 28, 2022
A session about executive coaching for leadership development
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Leadership skills are essential for advancing in any industry. Being a strong leader can open many doors, increase productivity, and help you advance in your career. 

Professional coaching provides the executive development you need to succeed. It also helps you form long-term goals and deliver peak performance for every position you work.

Let’s look a little more closely to learn what executive coaching is and how it can help you reach your long-term career goals. 

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What Is Executive Coaching for Leadership?

Executive coaching for leadership provides strategies for personal leadership development. The leadership coaching process is collaborative and focuses on your individual needs to create personalized goals.

Executive coaches not only focus on honing managerial skills but also provide personal and company growth opportunities. Skills that top leaders learn positively affect decision-making, performance, self-confidence, and long-term business and personal goals.  

In addition to focusing on your business objectives, the process is often largely an inward journey as well.

It can be lonely at the top, even for senior leaders. So, top leaders often turn to their executive coaches for practical advice, strategic planning ideas, and support in times of crisis. They can also provide networking opportunities. 

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Why Is Coaching Important in Leadership Development?

It’s just as important for top leaders to focus on their personal development as they do their professional development. An executive leadership coach can offer an outsider’s professional perspective that can lead to rapid and effective personal development.

Executive coaching can be part of leadership development because it offers self-study and self-scrutiny that creates better managerial habits. Evaluations and coaching sessions help reveal and remove weaknesses that lead to problems and job dissatisfaction. 

Leadership coaching for executives is important because research reveals that leadership development plays very specific and important roles, including:

  • Self-efficacy: Coaching provides executives with the belief in their ability to do what’s necessary to reach their business needs and goals.
  • Creating driven and inspirational leadership: Coaching improves both leader and employee job performance.  
  • Exploring why change is necessary: When people understand why change is necessary, they’re more eager and motivated to implement the changes necessary for a healthier and more productive work environment..

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How Does Executive Coaching Differ From Other Types of Coaching?

Executive coaching, executive mentorship, and leadership coaching have similar roles with a few differences. 

Executive coaches provide paid leadership coaching and provide accountability. Conversely, executive mentors provide unpaid services that may not be as robust and rarely include accountability. 

Let’s look a little more closely at the differences between executive coaching, executive leadership, and leadership coaching.

Executive Coaching 

C-level employees often lack anyone above them in the company to inspire leadership and motivate them, so hiring an executive coach can fill that void. When executives aren’t sure how to move forward, executive coaches can offer advice. 

Executive coaches are nearly always external coaches, while mentors and middle-management coaches may be internal coaches from within the company.

Executive Mentorship

The main difference between coaching and mentoring is that coaches are paid while mentors volunteer their services. However, due to the unpaid relationship and limited time, they are less likely than a coach to delve deeper into the challenges their client may be facing.

Leadership Coaching

Executive coaching and leadership coaching are used interchangeably and share a lot of common objectives. 

A leadership coach's goal is to assist a client in developing an understanding of how to become a more inspiring, influential leader with effective communication abilities.

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Who Needs Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching, as its name suggests, is an excellent option for any individual aspiring to reach an executive position. It can prepare someone to move seamlessly into an executive position and hit the ground running.

Some senior executives may perceive executive coaching engagements as being something they might only need when they’re experiencing problems or something in the company is broken. 

The executive coaching experience is the ultimate personally-tailored leadership development program. Rather than generic advice, recommendations are specific to individual needs.

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How to Prepare for Executive Coaching

You will get the most out of executive coaching if you do a little prep work ahead of your first coaching session. 

Preparing for a leadership coach involves coach research, goal setting, making a time commitment, and deciding which top leaders need coaching.

Here are more details about the three things you can do to prepare for an executive coach to get the most from executive coaching engagements:

  1. Research your coach: Before your first coaching engagements, you will want to know what unique strengths your specific coach brings to the table. Choose a coach that is a good fit for your expectations or who has specialties related to your unique needs. 
  2. Determine your goals: Having a growth mindset is essential for coaching success. You should have goals in mind concerning what you want to get out of the coaching session. These coaching objectives will help guide the experience.
  3. Decide on your time commitment: As a leader, your available time is often limited, so it’s vital to determine your schedule availability and how much time you are willing to devote to executive coaching ahead of time.

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Why Hire an Executive Coach?

Hiring an executive coach will help reach your leadership goals faster, stay accountable to do what’s necessary to meet goals, and provide a different perspective. An executive coach will ask deep questions to help uncover issues and find solutions to leadership development challenges. 

Having a non-stakeholder look at your experience within the company from the outside can reveal issues that someone closer to the company may not be able to see. It also creates a sense of self-awareness that allows you to see your company through new eyes.

In addition to providing learning opportunities related to leadership, a coaching conversation also provides accountability. Long-term, ongoing support can help top leaders stay on track and meet long-term goals to go with the short-term goals already accomplished.

Ultimately, executive coaching can be one of the most effective ways for a company to develop its leadership skills from the top down. The effects trickle down from the top to the bottom of the company’s hierarchy.

Some times that executive coaching can be extremely beneficial include:

  • When you realize you want to advance to an executive position
  • When you need support managing work stress, work changes, or a work crisis
  • When you realize that you need a rapid change in personal development
  • When you need an external sounding board who is not a company stakeholder
  • When you’re having difficulty finding a position that works for you

With expanded perspective, inspiration, and new goals, your company will move forward in ways that make working with each other a more pleasant experience. Where leadership is healthy, employee and executive retention follows. 

Still curious? Head to our article about all the reasons to hire an executive coach.

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Why Do Leaders Need Executive Coaching?

It’s easy for a senior executive to think they know everything about being a good leader. However, there’s nobody on the planet who doesn’t have room for improvement. 

Leaders often become complacent in their leadership style. An external coach can offer fresh, new ideas to bring new life to the company.

Ideas about leadership are continuously evolving as the business world, scientists, and psychologists offer new insight. 

C suite executives tend to pursue professional development and consider the latest research related to their specific industry. However, they don’t often keep up-to-date with new ideas concerning leadership in the business world. 

Meanwhile, effective executive coaches keep apprised of the latest studies related to leadership. Plus, they have developed wisdom from the experience of working with a multitude of different people, companies, and industries to provide you with insight into what works and what doesn’t. 

If you’re interested in becoming a more effective leader, contributing more to your organization’s success, and improving your job performance, executive coaching is imperative.

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What Are the Benefits of Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching can have a lasting impact on your career. It’s the ideal investment in reaching your long-term goals and putting yourself in the best possible position to succeed in your industry.

Benefits of executive coaching include:

  • Learning the pillars of effective leadership
  • Interpersonal management skills
  • Uncovering areas for personal growth
  • Creating work-life balance through task-delegation
  • Improvements in executive productivity 
  • Motivation and inspiration
  • Effective communication and conflict management strategies
  • Improved relationships with coworkers and supervisors
  • Improved employee relationships
  • Decision-making skills
  • Executive self-confidence
  • Team building ideas
  • Performance-improvement strategies
  • Professional development plan
  • Creation of short-term and long-term personal and company goals
  • External feedback for perspective
  • Practical career support 
  • Personal support, encouragement, and a sounding board for decisions
  • Networking opportunities
  • Higher job satisfaction

With all of these benefits in play, executives become more effective, and they ultimately feel more satisfied with their work. Plus, the results of the lessons result in sustained behavioral changes that help in professional and personal development.

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When Is Executive Coaching Most Effective?

Executive coaching is most effective when a person is open to learning and change. Executive coaching is also very effective for new and future executives who are just coming into the role. Of course, it’s important to provide as much info to coaches to offer a clear picture.

A leader who is unwilling to admit that they have room for improvement doesn't have a growth mindset, or is resistant to advice won’t find the coaching very effective. 

However, providing an honest and open image of your company to your coach is a huge key to success.  If you aren’t willing to admit your shortcomings, the coach won’t be able to provide the correct advice to effect change.

You have to open up the coach at the most basic level, so you can incite positive change. Otherwise, the coach can’t help you become the leader you could be or help your organization to thrive in all the ways it could.

You also have to go into the coaching experience with an open mind and a willingness to receive and follow advice. 

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What Do You Get From Executive Coaching?

While most people in upper management have had some form of leadership training in the past, a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership does not always work. Executive coaching provides a personalized plan that fits your specific needs. 

While many of the benefits of executive coaching are general, having an external person take a look at your company can help offer personalized and unique insights and ideas for improvement that you wouldn’t otherwise get from a generic leadership training course.

A good coach will get to know your company and find out more about your leadership style to create a specialized coaching plan for you. 

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What Problems Does Leadership Coaching Solve?

Leadership coaches provide executives with someone external to talk about internal company needs. They not only help upper management with shortcomings in their leadership abilities but also help solve performance problems, communication problems, and conflicts.

Revealing ways a top leader can delegate responsibilities can also free up time for a better work-life balance to avoid burnout.  

The self-awareness that comes from coaching conversations results in new habits that can help your company solve problems it didn’t know it even had. 

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Executive leadership coaching gives executive leaders both personal and business tools that can work to their advantage. The process can reveal shortcomings, provide goals to strive toward, and ultimately inspire excellent leadership business-wide through leadership examples. 

Hiring a coaching professional is a vital part of the continuous learning experience. Executive coaching or leadership coaching is not only limited to managers and senior executives. Anyone trying to advance their career or expand their skill set can benefit from it.

Inspiring, isn’t it ? Want to learn more about connecting self-awareness to professional development? Get in touch today.

How Highrise Can Help?

Highrise can pair you with an executive coach who will help you scale up your professional journey. Through a tailored, curated, and engaging experience designed to foster long-term professional development and personal improvement, we aim to uncover your true potential.

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The Highrise Team
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