Executive coaching can be one of the toughest types of coaching to do because you are dealing with people who are already successful and at the top of their game.
If you are new to executive coaching, or even if you have done it for a while, you may run into some common pitfalls with these high expectation clients.
Learn what not to do so you can be more successful as an executive coach.
What Makes Executive Coaching Different?
Why is executive coaching so potentially challenging? First, it can be helpful to back up and define exactly what we mean by “executive coaching.”
Let’s look at the four main types of coaching:
1. Life Coaching
Life coaching, or personal coaching, is about helping an individual with their entire life, not just their career. It might involve issues such as work/life balance, stress management, and overall success and happiness.
Clients in life coaching maybe stay at home moms, students, successful business people, artists, or just about anyone.
2. Career Coaching
Career coaching specifically focuses on helping people with their careers and is usually for people who work for someone else as opposed to business owners. (Although, career coaching might also help someone determine that they want to be a business owner!)
3. Business Coaching
Business coaching can be a broad term, but it most often applies to coach small to medium-sized business owners and solo-preneurs.
4. Executive Coaching
Executive coaching focuses on coaching corporate executives – CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, etc. While an executive may also be a business owner, many executives are working for a large company.
These are people who are already highly successful in their chosen field, but they want to achieve the next level in work and life.
Executive Coaching: The Challenge and the Opportunity
As you can see, sometimes there is overlap between the categories, and coaching often ends up covering more areas. i.e. a business coach may end up doing some life coaching with a client.
Executive coaching clients can be the most challenging because of their tremendous success. What do they have to learn from you? They already have achieved a lot.
They are also busy people who want to see results. So, you have to give them results in executive coaching.
However, executive coaching clients are a huge opportunity. They generally have a lot of money to spend and won’t balk at high rates.
Don’t Make These Mistakes in Executive Coaching
You are dealing with powerful, important people, so you need to do a good job. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
1. Oversell Yourself or Lie About Your Credentials
If you try to make yourself out to be more experienced than you are, or worse, lie about your credentials, it could come back to haunt you in a really horrible way. Don’t do it.
2. Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Executives expect excellence. Don’t get in over your head. Make sure you are damn good at what you do.
This means that you should get appropriate training and experience in coaching before going after that multi-million-dollar client.
3. Talk Down to Your Client
Executives will not respond well to being talked down to or treated like children. Challenge them. Be smart and interesting, don’t dumb anything down.
4. Brag or Name Drop
This is somewhat related to number 1 (don’t oversell yourself) but has more to do with how you interact with the client during the session.
Don’t try to make yourself sound more important than you are. Don’t constantly name drop famous people or go on about your own accomplishments.
Likely, you might be doing this because you feel intimidated by your own client. This might be something to work on with your own coach.
5. Be Vague Instead of Specific
Executives are used to looking at numbers and having hard facts and information to guide their decisions. They know how to assess the bottom line. This is how you should also structure coaching with them.
Have a specific plan for their executive coaching. This might include structuring a one-year coaching plan that includes milestones and intermediate goals as well as the main objective.
6. Waste Your Client’s Time
Your executive coaching client is a busy person. They don’t want to spend hours on the phone chatting away. Plan on giving them short coaching sessions that accomplish a lot in a brief period of time. The coaching session might be no longer than 30 minutes or maybe even be done in 20 minutes.
By respecting your client’s time and being efficient, you will be more successful.
Win at Executive Coaching
By being a results-oriented executive coach, you can make great progress with your clients. And your happy executive clients will not only pay well but refer their friends and colleagues to you.