Executive coaching can radically change a leader’s approach to management. Exceptional coaches teach individuals how to be introspective and to develop empathy. After coaching, executives are better able to put themselves in the shoes of their employees and are thus more likely to connect with them and give them feedback in meaningful ways.
However, not all coaches are created equal. Individuals may approach coaching in a number of different ways, and it is only when the goals of both coach and student align can meaningful work be done. While executives and their companies should take the time necessary to vet potential coaches and find ideal personality matches, people can save time by understanding the main executive coaching techniques and searching out a professional who is most experienced with and capable of providing the desired types of coaching. Here is a look at some of the most popular styles of executive coaching.
1. One-on-one coaching
This style is likely what most people think of when they consider executive coaching. The one-on-one approach teams the executive with a single coach, who challenges the executive to consider new viewpoints and introduces him or her to new tools. The aim of this approach is to develop empathy while also honing the leadership skillset to make individuals more effective in the workplace. This type of coaching usually lasts for 6 to 12 months, with meetings occurring every few weeks. During the first meeting, both the coach and the executive will set measurable goals that they want to reach over the course of the relationship. Much of the focus is learning how to measure impact and judge goal progression.
2. Virtual coaching
When time does not allow for in-person meetings, virtual coaching is another option. Ideally, these sessions take place over Skype, FaceTime, or another video chatting service. The goals and aims of virtual coaching are much the same as with one-on-one coaching. While this approach to coaching is more convenient, executives should be encouraged to meet in person, if at all possible. So much of communication is done nonverbally, especially in the workplace, that it is important for executives to understand the importance of their nonverbal cues. While video conferencing can help with this to some extent, it is still not the same as talking in the flesh.
3. Team coaching
This approach to coaching usually comes after one or more members of the team have engaged in one-on-one coaching. Typically, the same coach will work with all the members of the team, to get a good idea of the talent of each person and what that individual provides in regard to team culture. This coach is especially suited to bring the team together as a facilitator and teach them how to interact more effectively. Team coaching largely focuses on how to recognize the different experiences of each member of the team and use these different perspectives in a constructive manner. Since the coach largely acts as a facilitator, a primary goal is more effective communication. Often, the work done on communication in one-on-one sessions makes the transition to team coaching much smoother.
4. Transition coaching
When executives are about to start a new position, they may want to find a transition coach, who can help during the period leading up to and immediately after the switch. Often, leaders will hire a coach when they assume their first board-level role and they want to make a great first impression. Another circumstance that often calls for transition coaching is going overseas on an international assignment. This transition involves not just taking on more responsibilities, but also adapting to a new culture that may have different rules inside and outside of the office. With a coach, people can learn to navigate this new terrain while also building the skills necessary to succeed.
5. Return-to-work coaching
While many individuals are excited to return to work after long absences, such as leave due to the birth of a child or having a serious illness, the prospect can still induce a lot of anxiety. In this situation, coaches can help individuals regain their stride quickly and pick up some new leadership skills along the way. This approach to coaching looks for ways to rebuild confidence and restore self-assurance. Often, coaches can help leaders take away important lessons from their time out of work that they can then apply to their role at the office. Life events such as a serious illness or having a child teach a number of important lessons that can be useful for managing employees.
6. Intervention coaching
At one time, intervention coaching was the standard for most businesses. This approach to coaching involves bringing a coach into the office to work with a particularly promising executive who has some bad habits that need to be addressed quickly and effectively. Since research has shown that it is more beneficial to nourish the promising aspects of an employee rather than dwelling on their negative attributes, this style of coaching often involves shifting the focus away from the bad and toward the good. Coaches are capable of increasing self-awareness and helping individuals realize for themselves why their old approaches to leadership were problematic. Then, the coach works with the executive to identify new, more effective means of addressing the issue.