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Executive coaching: What is it and what are the benefits associated with it?

"Executive coaching is defined as a helping relationship formed between a client who has managerial authority and responsibility in an organization and a consultant who uses a wide variety of behavioral techniques and methods to help the client achieve a mutually identified set of goals to improve his or her professional performance and personal satisfaction and, consequently, to improve the effectiveness of the client’s organization within a formally defined coaching agreement" (Kilburg, 2007, p. 28).



Executive coaching improves performance and psychological well-being. Other correlational research has been rigorous in showing that executive coaching is effective based on multi-source ratings of self, management and coach on a range of performance indices including productivity, leadership effectiveness and leader behaviors (Perkins, 2009).


Executive coaching leads to better feedback from supervisors, peers & subordinates

In one of the few longitudinal studies, Smither and colleagues (2003) looked at the effectiveness of executive coaching through tracking over a thousand senior managers over a two-year period. The findings showed that those who received executive coaching received more positive feedback from their supervisors, peers and subordinates with areas of improvement including goal setting, soliciting ideas for improvement and ratings from direct reports and supervisors.


It is important that organizations determine the needs of the individual(s) to be coached based on the Development Pipeline (Peterson, 2006 & 1999; Grant et al., 2010). which consists of the following five stages:

  1. insight,

  2. motivation,

  3. capabilities,

  4. real-world practice, and

  5. accountability

The development pipeline assesses whether the executive needs additional insight, motivation or capabilities or whether it needs to be given the opportunity to apply existing skills in a real-world setting and to be held accountable. The pipeline can also help the organization determine what sort of coach is suitable for the executive based on the needs analysis. It also helps to focus on the transfer of learning back to the workplace.


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