Executive Coaching Needs Differ Between Younger and Older Executives

Did you know there are distinct differences between the coaching needs of younger executives and older executives?

Executive coaching pushes executives to grow professionally and personally, break down the barriers of their corporate comfort zones, and develop the skills required to take them to the next level of leadership. Executive coaches provide awareness, accountability, and direction to help people hone their skills and realize their full potential.

Young executives in their 30’s are generally less self-reflective than their older colleagues — perhaps because their rapid rise in the company and identification as “high potential” reinforces a perception of themselves as already knowing what they need to know to succeed. They tend to require more direction, support, and encouragement to achieve coaching goals.

The Harvard Business Review article, “Younger and Older Executives Need Different Things from Coaching,” recommends executive coaching for younger executives that employs “if/then scenarios” and uses “templates or rules” to help shape behavior. For example, if coaching seeks to develop interpersonal communications skills, concrete direction and behavioral guidelines work effectively for thirty-somethings.

Older executives in their 40’s and 50’s tend to be more open to new ways of thinking, more open to exploration, and curious to learn more about themselves. They are also better at seeing and understanding nuances in the behavior of others. As a result, they benefit from an executive coach who understands, and leverages, their experience and point-of-view.

Some of these distinctions are generational (Millennials, GenXers, Baby-Boomers), and in team dynamics, understanding generational differences is absolutely critical — read more in our blog, “3 Leadership Techniques for Bridging the Generation Gap between Teams.”

But many differences are based on Lifestage. Executives in their 40’s and 50’s are more established professionally and more experienced working with others. Executives in their 30’s are building their professional foundations and seeking to understand patterns and rules of behavior — they are still “learning the ropes.”

Executive coaching enhances strategic thinking, improves professional presence, and strengthens leadership and team-building skills. Farsighted companies invest in executive coaching for their emerging leaders. Top performers use executive coaching to invest in themselves.

To maximize your results, make sure you engage an executive coach who understands that the needs of emerging leaders in their 30’s are different than the needs of high potentials in their 40’s and 50’s.

To learn more about executive coaching and leadership training for your high potentials, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.