Corporate Executive Coaching: 6 Ways to Prepare

“What’s the best way to prepare for corporate executive coaching?” At Arden Coaching, we’re asked this question regularly. From our perspective, it’s a two-part answer. One part relates to the organization sponsoring the coaching — the company where the employee works. The other part of the answer relates to the employee you wish to coach.

The Best Ways for the Organization to Prepare for Corporate Executive Coaching

Smart companies understand that they need to invest in the growth of their employees. A high-value way to do that is to provide executive coaching to your senior team and high-potential employees. These organizations recognize that corporate executive coaching helps them thrive — it is a benefit and an opportunity offered to the best and most promising, not a punishment to “fix” poor performers.

As your organization prepares for corporate executive coaching, consider the following:

1. Determine your organizational goals. While executive coaching clearly helps individuals become stronger leaders, it helps your organization too. You should have specific organizational goals in mind as you begin — and individual coaching goals should always be aligned with your organizational goals.

What do you want your company to get out of this? Do you want to strengthen your strategic thinking skills? Develop better performing teams and team leaders? Improve communication skills? Deepen levels of emotional intelligence? Embrace change and build resilience? Whatever your organization’s goals, [Internal link: ] make sure executive coaching incorporates them into its coaching for your individual employees.

2. Implement coaching in phases. Don’t try to coach everyone all at once. For example, if you wish to coach 25 people, start with 4 or 5 of your eager high-achievers. These are the people most likely to be enthusiastic about the opportunity, and ready to be coached (see item #6 below).

As you extend coaching deeper into your organization, these first cohorts will also become your best internal advocates and cheerleaders, encouraging others to take advantage of the opportunity, and helping to get everyone else excited.

3. Communicate its importance throughout the company. Make sure your CEO communicates loud and clear that your executive coaching initiative is important to the organization and has significant value. By making it clear to all employees that coaching is important, the CEO will help build positive momentum, get everyone on the same page, and minimize internal hurdles — e.g., managers who might make it difficult for those chosen for coaching to participate, or some who might diminish the value of the effort. 

4. Make sure workloads support coaching. Support the efforts of supervisors who need to modify schedules and adjust workloads to give those participating in coaching the time and space to work on their coaching program. If employees are simply given “one more thing to do,” it will be almost impossible to implement a successful corporate executive coaching program — and coaching will feel more like a burden than an opportunity.

5. Pick the right executive coaching firm. Every coaching firm offers its own process and approach. Each has its own personality. So a “good fit” is not just important for the individual being coached, it’s important for the organization as well. How good is the fit with your company?

And consider how your choice will stand up to the test of time — not just for a specific coaching engagement. It is especially important that the coaching firm be a good fit with your company over the long haul. For the best result, you want a coaching firm that will understand and appreciate the nuances of your company and be there for you — and all your employees — over time.

6. Select the right people for coaching. Beyond thinking about high-potential employees who are eager and excited about coaching, the employees you choose must also be “coachable.” What does this mean?

Coaching is NOT training

Training is generally a one-way street — trainers deliver specific information to the trainee (for example, how to use new financial management software). The trainee then demonstrates understanding and application. Coaching, however, is a two-way street. The person being coached must truly want to be coached. They must be open to change, and be willing to do the work to break old habits, engage in new behaviors, and build new skills.

A coachable employee must want it! Executive coaching changes thinking patterns and behavior. That requires work. The employees you select must have the desire to fully participate in the experience. 

Are they willing to try to look closely at themselves in the mirror? Seeing ourselves as others see us is uncomfortable. It takes courage and a desire to impartially assess our own behaviors. Corporate executive coaching requires that those being coached be as objective and self-aware as possible.

Are they willing to be honest with themselves — and their coach? The employees you select must be open to feedback and with coaching conversations about their work and communication style, effectiveness as leaders, and impact on others. This is deeply personal and hits close to home! Reacting defensively to feedback and to their coach’s discussion points is a recipe for failure.

Are they naturally curious? If the employees you select value learning, are intellectually curious, and are eager to grow and evolve as leaders, they will thrive with executive coaching — as will your company. These are people open to new information, new points of view, and new ways of doing things. 

Now Your Organization is Prepared for Corporate Executive Coaching

With these things in mind, your company will be ready to embrace coaching. Your employees will learn how to adapt and make changes to become better leaders. To learn more about corporate executive coaching and how it can help your organization compete and thrive, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.