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Executive Coaching: Does it Deliver?

Do you believe that your performance could be improved through coaching? Perhaps you’re somewhat skeptical, like the author of a US book called: “You go, girl! That’ll be $300” (Savage, 2006). I’ve been working in this particular space for 15+ years and have come to believe that the very best coaches are in the questions rather than the answers business. Let me demonstrate this by detailing a typical listing of questions.

Value Judgment: It’s important to stress that coaches shouldn’t have any particular views that they impose on clients. For example, someone might be interested in extrinsic rewards (money, power, recognition, social status) and that’s what works for them. Other people may express intrinsic values around personal growth, doing a good job, coaching or helping others, a need to feel that they are making a difference and so on. A coach’s job is to help you uncover your goals, not to impose their values on you.

Under the Bonnet: To make Executive Coaching more concrete, let’s have an in-depth look at the type of questions we would normally use during an actual coaching session. Sometime Executives want specific help in one area only. Other times it’s more broadly based. Everyone is different and we don’t follow a cookie-cutter list. But this will give you a flavour of the types of questions that we might explore together. The sequence outlined is fairly typical.

Current Job: The starting point is getting a good understanding of your current role –

Early Life Experiences: In relation to ‘who you are today’ I’m always interested in personal history. How you became who you are now. So, we drill into a bit of personal history. We might explore questions like:

Leadership Models: It often helps if I have an understanding on what leaders you admire most and why? Having identified these, I might ask

Being Happy: It’s important for me to understand what an executive sets as personal ambitions. So, I might ask questions like:

Development Needs: To uncover your development needs we might explore questions like:

Personal Life: Finally, we might explore topics like:

Coaching has become a well accepted part of the business landscape. It’s gone well beyond the ‘remedial’ label and now focuses on staff who are high potential. In a memorable phrase Marcia Reynolds, former President of International Coach Federation (ICF) said that ‘coaching is coming out of its diapers’. Is there anything in this process for you? The best sports players in the world receive continuous coaching.  Should we settle for anything less for ourselves?