Is There Value in Executive Coaching?

Posted on November 9, 2011 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)

Most companies work to develop existing employees and build employees into managers. When an employee reaches a vital management position, there may be skills the employee still lacks. More and more organizations are utilizing executive coaches to assist new managers or improve existing managers. An executive coach is not an expert in a particular field. A president of a major company will not be able to hire an executive coach that has all the knowledge as to how to run a company. The role of the executive coach is to guide leaders through difficult processes. The coach serves as an unbiased guide to point out aspects of decisions that the leader may not have otherwise considered.

Another role that an executive coach plays involves developing interpersonal skills. Believe it or not, not all leaders possess skills needed to successfully run an organization. An executive coach typically joins a leader or manager for a day or so and watches interactions that occur. The coach will give feedback to the leader on areas that need improvement or situations the leader handled well. For example, an executive coach may state, “You may want to write emails more carefully. Consider what you are writing in an effort to avoid offending employees.” Perhaps the leader was not aware of how his or her emails could be misinterpreted. The executive coach can point out shortcomings such as this to strengthen interpersonal skills.
Executive coaches are most commonly hired from outside organizations. However, organizations have begun to house their own executive coaches for increased availability. Most organizations that have used executive coaching in the past feel that there is great value in utilizing this tool as a means to develop employees. An article from the Washington Post a few days ago talks about how the government made a contract with an executive coaching group to provide coaching to members of the Department of Homeland Security. The reason in hiring the executive coaches is an effort to increase leadership skills of existing employees. The government feels that with an abundance of baby boomers on the road to retirement there is the need to focus on succession planning. Younger employees will need to have the skills to lead government agencies and executive coaching is one way to develop younger employees.

What are other skills that can be developed through the use of executive coaching? An important skill that not all new leaders possess is time management. Executive coaches often use techniques such as in-basket tasks to increase time awareness. The in-basket technique provides an employee with a pile or list of tasks that need to be completed. The employee is given a certain amount of time (typically about an hour or less) to delegate tasks to other employees and decide which tasks need to be accomplished first. This is beneficial because of the ability of the executive coach to provide immediate feedback to the employee.

I mentioned in a previous post how goals can aid employees in productivity and performance on the job. Leaders of organizations are no exception to the rule. They can also gain a lot from setting goals and holding themselves accountable. The problem is that leaders often have a more difficult time creating goals for themselves because of the immensity of his or her role at the organization. The executive coach can assist the leader in developing specific goals that target areas of needed improvement observed by the coach. A beginning goal could be for the leader to acknowledge employees good performance rather than only pointing out mistakes.

There are of course those that argue that executive coaching is not worthwhile. It is true that not every organization and every employee will likely benefit from executive coaching. And depending on the organization’s size, this development tool may be too costly. However, executive coaching has aided many organizations during periods of change and for succession planning. In conclusion, it is up to an organization to decide if executive coaching will be a worthwhile tool.

What do you think about executive coaching? Is there value in the tool?

TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)

About TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)

Great companies know that it takes highly engaged employees to retain customers and make their brand promise come alive. To make the connection between your employees, customers and brand, you need a partner with deep expertise across several areas. Only KANTAR TNS has over two decades of employee survey experience, as well as access to the consultative and research resources of the world’s largest customer satisfaction benchmark database and brand analytics research. Whether you have 200 employees or 200,000, Kantar TNS has the expertise and the advanced measurement, reporting, and follow up tools you need to deliver on your employee and customer brand promise.

What Others Are Saying

  1. Amber Cebull November 11, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve heard from a lot of people (including my own business coach) that coaching is really valuable. I know that it definitely helps me reach more goals in my own business.

    • Gail Cengia November 15, 2011 at 9:14 am

      It’s great to hear that you have had such a positive experience with executive coaching. I think you are right that there is a lot of value in executive coaching. I think in the next few years we will see an increase in its use.


  2. Executive Coaching November 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Executive coaching is a very valuable practice and tool for leaders because it offers them an opportunity to reflect on their execution. Now, I know I may seem bias being that I run an executive coaching firm. However, I was a consultant before a coach. When I saw the “aha” moment and true power of coaching I completely shifted my business model. The days of telling people what to do are over because this disempowers their decision making process. This is the true benefit of coaching: we guide people to their own answers which in turn creates a better decision making process.

    • Gail Cengia November 15, 2011 at 9:15 am

      Thanks for your great input! It is so awesome that you have used coaching as a basis for your business model. It sounds like your style of coaching truly benefits organizations.

  3. Dave Reinherz November 14, 2011 at 7:22 am

    Nice article Gail. Sometimes just the act of working with the coach, speaking out loud, and putting extra thought into how the executive is doing can work wonders. Many times it is a communications break down between executive and workers. Focusing on strengths and being positive can go a long way. I personally believe executive coaching should also involve some more general life coaching for the executive to make sure she/he is balanced and happy within the finance, fitness, family areas. Keep up the great work and check me out at and

    • Gail Cengia November 15, 2011 at 9:19 am

      You bring up a great point about not only focusing on work life during coaching, but finance, fitness, and family areas. I think these are often overlooked and organizations focus on just work when so much of who we are and how we act in the workplace is influenced by forces outside of work. I agree that coaching can strengthen the communication between executives and workers. In the literature on executive coaching, that seems to be a theme that comes up often. Executives do not always know that his or her communication style between workers is less than desired until a coach comes in and points out weaknesses. Thanks for bringing up great points!


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