Four Things an Executive Coach is NOT

Executive coaching offers executives in business and nonprofit organizations a exceptional opportunity to develop their leadership skills and advance their careers. An experienced, certified executive coach (we recommend certification from the International Coach Federation) will help you take a journey of self-discovery to enhance your individual strengths, advance your strategic thinking skills, evolve your leadership style, develop your communications skills, and grow your professional presence.

According to Maren Perry, founder and president of Arden Coaching, “Coaching is used for development. Executive coaches partner with a client to increase their awareness about current and possible beliefs and behaviors. Then we use that awareness to build a plan of action to achieve a desired goal. To succeed, coaching requires the client’s active participation and willingness.”

With that in mind, here’s what an executive coach is NOT.

An Executive Coach is NOT a Consultant. This is perhaps the most common misconception about coaching. Consultants use their specialized knowledge to assess a situation and make specific recommendations. They provide solutions to problems. Coaching is a partnership between equals. Coaches do not tell people what to do. Coaches are guides and catalysts — they use their expertise to help you assess and change desired behaviors and habits to achieve your goals.

An Executive Coach is NOT a Trainer or a Teacher. The teacher/student relationship is primarily one-way. Teachers and trainers have knowledge and information that they pass along to their students. Teachers operate in a giving/delivery mode. Students operate in a taking/learning mode.

An Executive Coach is NOT a Mentor. A mentor’s expertise and experience outweighs that of their mentee. It is not a relationship between equals. Mentors often share “this is how I did it” stories and introduce mentees to their network of contacts. Mentors provide advice and counsel. Typically, mentors also have experience in the same industry or functional area as mentees — an up-and-coming high tech manager’s mentor is usually a senior high tech executive. Coaches are experts in the art and science of coaching. Coaching experience in “your industry” is actually not relevant.  The coaching partnership relies on the interplay between the coach’s expertise and your own motivation, self-awareness, and commitment to change.

An Executive Coach is NOT a Therapist. While coaches work with clients at a very personal level, therapy diagnoses, heals, addresses trauma, and deals with personal psychology. Coaches work with executives who are fundamentally healthy, whole, and able to manage their own well-being throughout a rigorous process of self-assessment and change.

Arden Coaching has developed a series of questions to help people understand the characteristics critical for a successful coaching partnership. They include:  

  • Desire: Do you want to do the work necessary to change thinking and behaviors?
  • Openness: Are you open to feedback and conversations about your behavior, habits, and goals?
  • Self-Awareness: Can you see yourself from a neutral perspective — that is, see yourself as others may see or perceive you?
  • Growth Mindset: Do you value learning and growth? Are you intellectually curious?
  • Responsibility: Are you ready to take responsibility and be accountable for your actions?

To learn more about the benefits of executive coaching and how it works, check out this brief eBook, “How Does an Executive Coaching engagement Work?” 

To learn more about what executive coaching IS, contact us at [email protected] or 646.844.2233.