Did you know that behind every brilliant manager is an executive coach?

The Coaching Buyer’s Guide: What Could A Coach Do For You?

Did you know that behind every brilliant manager is an executive coach? Gaining traction as a highly effective business tool in recent years, executive coaches have now become an essential for organisations that wish to create and maintain a successful, high-performance culture.

After all, the pressures faced by a leader in today’s fast-paced world are far more demanding than those of earlier generations. Rapidly changing markets and workforces, technological advancements, pared-down organisational structures, increased financial and legal scrutiny – these are merely a fraction of the challenging factors executives have to deal with today.

Thus, coaching is no longer just a simple, one-dimensional solution for correcting toxic behaviour at the top. Instead, it has evolved into prioritising the people aspect of improving organisational performance and is utilised as a multi-faceted tool to address a wide array of both subjective and objective issues:

  • Assisting with business planning
  • Advising on business model design and development
  • Planning strategic dialogue, formulation and execution
  • Developing capabilities of high-potential performers
  • Improving management and leadership skills
  • Making difficult decisions
  • Resolving interpersonal conflict
  • Dealing with burnout


Source: Harvard Business Review, January 2009

When Should You Be Looking For A Coach

1. After a promotion

You can proactively desire to do it as soon as you receive the promotion to fast track your progress when settling into the new role. Alternatively, after being in the new role for six to 12 months, you realise that you are struggling to keep up with the demands of the job and it is starting to negatively impact other areas of your life.

At this stage, hiring a coach is like hiring a private tutor to accelerate your learning through assisting you to unlearn some old habits or aspects of the way you previously worked with, and add new capabilities to your skillset to perform in your new role

2. After starting a new business

As a new business owner, you need to make various important decisions that would positively or negatively affect your future livelihood, as well as the livelihood of your team.

Likewise, if you are launching a new product, division or establishing an office in a new territory for a large company, you are facing similar challenges to that of a new business owner.

In this situation, a coach is an invaluable and independent sounding board, by providing you the opportunity to talk through crucial decisions you need to make while helping you consider a broader range of options. Not only will a coach ensure that you actually follow through on those decisions and translate them for the prosperity of your business, but a coach can also improve your judgment by acting as a mirror to give you a more accurate understanding of the gap between your current and desired realities.

3. At a career crossroads

At times, it is not uncommon to feel like you are stuck or have lost a sense of direction when you are going through a plateau in your career. While you sense that things need to change, you are not sure where to even begin or look. As a result, you frequently experience sadness, resignation and lack of motivation. You may be resisting change and the transition into the next stage of your life – most often, the third stage of retirement or semi-retirement – which would in turn threaten your identity or sense of self.

Given the rate at which people find that they need to pivot and reinvent themselves in today’s dynamic and changing economy, it is likely that the current career crossroad is one among the many to come.

At this juncture of your life, hiring a coach will allow you to leverage on someone else’s leadership skills and help you move forward through identifying opportunities and removing obstacles.

4. Navigating unfamiliar territories

For those who have been in their roles for long periods, there may be instances when you need to lead complex projects. These could include handling a merger or acquisition, forming a joint venture, developing a new product, expanding the geographical reach of your organization, and upgrading an enterprise system. These could be unchartered territory for you; and you don’t have a map or plan from previous experiences to refer to, which make these kinds of high-stakes projects risky.

For these situations, a coach can act like a navigator – guiding and assisting you when required – whilst still keeping you in the driver’s seat of leading the change initiative.

5. Correcting derailing behaviour

Occasionally, there are times when you may be doing things to sabotage your success – either at work or outside the office. Whether you or your manager recognises the problem, or if the behaviour is conscious or unconscious, you might be in danger of becoming more of a liability than an asset to your enterprise. Perhaps you are micromanaging or disengaging your team.

In these instances, a coach can help you uncover and correct those thoughts, beliefs, habits and attitudes behind shaping your actions, and guide you through changing the results you are producing.

However, there are times when some of these issues are best addressed through therapy, rather than coaching. You can discuss this with a coach first before you decide to hire them. Some coaches do have a background in therapy, and have the ability to offer a hybrid of coaching and therapy.

What You Can Do With The Coach

 A skillful executive coach is not only a vision builder, but also a value shaper. To find the most suitable coach and program for yourself, there are some markers that you can take note of:

  • Full-time coaching experience
  • Educational qualifications such as coach-specific training and relevant tertiary certifications
  • Primary specialisation in coaching
  • Ethical and professional standards
  • Effective communication and facilitation as a coach
  • Good chemistry between the client and the coach

You can also interview people who have previous experiences helping others solve similar problems, and read reviews and testimonials from other clients to gain a better understanding on their coaching style and personality.

After making your decision, you either want to prepare a brief that outlines your situation, the problems you are facing, the impact of said problems, and thus, what you see as your needs, or develop it together with your coach.

It is important to understand how to get a return on investment from investing in coaching and ask the coach to help you understand what to expect. While some clients report a breakthrough leading to tangible results as early as their first session, expect three to four months of consistent coaching before a program could start to provide a measurable return on investment and become a viable long-term component to achieving and sustaining peak performance in your career.

Source: Harvard Business Review, January 2009

And if you are still working with the same coach after 10 years, well done – you have found a life-long collaborative partner to successfully champion your ongoing learning and development.


HBR Article: What Can Coaches Do For You?
Presentation: Key Executive Coaching Statistics
Blog: Coaching 101 – An Introduction to Professional Coaching

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By Phoebe Low and Glenn A. Williams

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