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Executive Coaching: An Emerging Approach for Leadership Development


The typical approach to management development until date has been to send senior managers to classroom (or outbound) sessions on leadership. While this effort is any day better than no development activity, it has certain limitations that organizations need to consider carefully. First, each manager has different development needs that may or may not be addressed in a standard workshop. Secondly, even if the workshop is well received by the managers, there is no accountability for implementing the new knowledge and skills learned at the workplace, essentially because managers are often too busy to do so. Thirdly, traditional leadership development workshops are based on the premise that if people understand, then they will do. Unfortunately, research proves that while many understand, very few actually do. Lastly, it is unrealistic to expect management development to happen if input is limited to occasional training events, which do not have a follow-up process. These limitations can be addressed through executive coaching.

Executive coaching is an experiential and individualized leader development process that builds a manager’s capability to achieve short- and long-term organizational goals. It is conducted through one-on-one interactions, driven by data from multiple perspectives, and based on mutual trust and respect. The organization, a manager (the coachee), and the executive coach, work in partnership to achieve maximum impact.  Dialogue, fuelled through powerful questions, is at the heart of the coaching process. In coaching conversations, managers think aloud, become more reflective, and gain access to their own tacit knowledge and unexplored ideas.

The coach's role is to act as a sounding board, confidant, partner, challenger, and catalyst for change. The emphasis in coaching is on building the manager’s ability to deal with the issues using his or her own decision-making skills, as against telling him or her specific actions to undertake. Since executive coaching addresses specific performance or behavioral gaps, it is more effective than general-purpose training because it gives high-performing busy managers an opportunity to reflect on feedback, focus on developing goals, and have someone to hold them accountable for executing their goals. The confidential coaching relationship also creates a safe space for managers to share their concerns. Managers who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles.

Typically, in organizations, members of the senior management team, ideally starting with the CEO are identified for executive coaching. Tentatively, the objective is to groom them for further responsibility and develop them to become even more effective in their current roles. Specific objectives are defined during the pre-coaching discussion. The executive coach gathers confidential 360-degree feedforward about the coachee from concerned stakeholders to identify strengths and development areas. The initial coaching relationship is usually for 6 months with 6 to 12 coaching sessions within this period. The session schedule is discussed with the coachee; typically, the coach meets more frequently in the first half of the period to get the momentum going. The details of each session are confidential between the coach and the coachee. In conclusion, while the exact process would vary depending on the needs of the coachee, there is no doubt executive coaching can deliver high impact results for senior leaders and leadership teams.

Written by Dr. Ajay Nangalia PCC & Lina Nangalia PCC

Business Coaching


GTCC coaching will help continuous development of Talents and skills by giving on the job feedback to deliver meaningful results with empowerment. Coaching for performance will help your organization to leverage full potential of your organization’s talents through a strong and well thought coaching.