What is Executive coaching

Executive coaching (life coaching) has been huge since the 1980s. One of its central concepts is that the coach doesn’t necessarily need any technical knowledge of what they are coaching. 

They are simply facilitating a coaching process because the person being coached already has the expert knowledge of the subject.  You could say executive coaching uses non subject specific wisdom to improve the performance of the person being coached. 

A good example of this would be the professional golfer who hires a life coach to help with mindset.  The golfer probably already has a technical coach and at their level of skill they are capable of self coaching, so they are looking for the executive coach to help with life skills which may give them the edge to the game.  

One real life example is from a top golfer who reported his game had improved after his life coach pointed out that he wasn’t putting the cap back on the toothpaste after brushing his teeth; an observation completely unrelated to golf. He highlighted this observation and advised him to consciously put the cap back on from now on.  

Following this seemingly trivial advice there was a noticeable improvement in his putting ability. It seems this unrelated advice had addressed the golfers inability to complete a task fully which was effecting his putting.

Probably the best example of an executive coach in the business world right now is Simon Sinek.  He’s the master of the wise one line inspirational quote. In fact he managed to get away with a whole book which just has one short quote and a pretty picture per page, all for the bargain price of £12.99! The man really is a genius…

We all need inspiration, but how helpful is this sort of coaching when applying it to a complex skill that requires daily practice? 

Executive life coaches have their place and make great motivational speakers, but sales is a perishable skill, which is a skill that needs constant practice. Any perishable skill requires a different form of coaching.

Instructional coaching is a concept that was pioneered and developed by the educationalist Jim Knight.  He worked at Kansas University over many years looking at the best way to improve the performance of teachers.  He found from his research that instructional coaching, which is delivered by a subject matter expert and focuses on drilling relevant skills for the task at hand, was far more effective than the more faddy executive coaching that focused mostly on mindset.

We will cover more on this in the coming articles and new course content.