What is Executive Coaching and When is it Necessary?

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People often ask me “What is it that you do as an executive coach?” and “What makes for a successful coaching experience?” Here are some ideas that hopefully will start a discussion.

What is Executive Coaching?

An executive coach is a person trained and skilled (in evidence based change strategies) to help leaders make behavioral and attitudinal changes around leadership, business, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills.


“Coaches help people identify their unique strengths and weaknesses, tying those to their personal and career aspirations.” Daniel Goleman in “Primal Leadership”

Coaching is most successful when: the coach and coachee collaborate to identify what is inspirational to the coachee; the coach helps him/her master specific leadership skills; the coaching climate provides maximum autonomy in achieving the coaching goals; and a strong link is made between the individual’s coaching goals and the company’s leadership and business needs.

Critical Factors in the Coaching Experience:

 Establishing the quality of the coach/coachee relationship. To be successful, there must be excellent rapport, deep trust, and a good match between the coach’s skills and experience and the coachee’s leadership development needs.

Setting clear expectations, goals, and measurable results.  Expectations, goals, and outcome metrics are developed in collaboration with the candidate, his/her manager, and the HR partner and designed to be achievable in the time period specified. The key here is to identify two changes that will most impact the leader’s effectiveness.

Leveraging leadership strengths and source(s) of inspiration towards coaching goals and overall business objectives. Individuals engaged in coaching are most inspired and effective when they are playing to their strengths and using their skills to contribute to the company’s mission. Many times this comes from them discovering underused strengths and then finding ways to deploy them.

Identifying and applying critical resources necessary to achieve coaching objectives. The coach and the coaching team point the coachee to the most valuable resources available to reach coaching goals. The most powerful resource is life experience. The least potent is from just understanding. One does not learn to swim from reading a book.

Measuring Coaching Results

The other day I was asked, “How do you know when coaching works?” My answer was one word, “Results“.

How are results measured?

Results can be measured qualitatively by observed behavioral and attitudinal changes that are evident in specific leadership, business, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills. So, for example, a leader’s goal may be to change his or her leadership style from authoritarian to collaborative. During coaching, the leader’s team begin to observe changes in leadership behaviors during team meetings (e.g., a change from the leader making statements and dictating actions to asking questions and incorporating the groups’ ideas in deciding on actions taken)

When Can Coaching be Beneficial?

  • Shaping and executing a development plan
  • Accelerating the growth of new skills in critical assignments
  • Preparing for promotion to new levels of leadership (e.g., the first 90 days)
  • Setting a new strategy and leading change effectively
  • Adapting to increasingly complex assignments and environments
  • Learning to balance work and life
  • Improving communication or presentation skills
  • Developing cross-cultural fluency
  • Facilitating team building and resolving conflict
  • Changing one’s leadership style to empower others and adapt to different leadership demands

Quotes about Cedric’s Coaching

 “Cedric is a soulful coach… certainly one of the 20 most important human beings that impacted me – professionally of course, but also more holistically. Cedric was my coach for approximately 90 days, after which he approached me with a simple one liner, “Ajit… you no longer need me.” Cedric helped coach half of my management team from then on, over the next five years. I recommend Cedric without any reservations.”January 21, 2011


 Top qualities: Great Results, High Integrity, Creative

Ajit Singh, Ph.D (At time of writing, he was the President and CEO of a medical technology company). He 
selected Cedric as his personal coach and, later, selected Cedric to coach individual executives as well design and conduct a leadership development workshop for his senior executive team.

  “Cedric is a top-notch executive consultant and coach. He’s able to quickly assess any situation and environment, understand what results are required, and provide high-impact, thoughtful and pragmatic recommendations. His genuine concern for his clients and his high-integrity are strengths he brings to any engagement.” January 23, 2011


 Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, High Integrity

 Toni Piwonka-Corle, 
hired Cedric as a Business Consultant in 2008. At the time of coaching, she was a V.P. and General Manager at a technology company.


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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