This is the definitive guide to executive coaching. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how executive coaching works, why executive coaching is important to your business, the benefits of executive coaching, and how to find a coach that matches your needs.


What Is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching helps a company's upper management play their roles as successful leaders in a more effective, balanced, and healthy manner. Through coaching and counselling, professionals in this industry can help them become more capable and reach their full potential.

Executive Coaching Definition

Executive coaching is role-specific or leadership training aimed to assist executives with positive leadership development and to improve their reputation and capacity to achieve at the highest level.

Differences Between Executive Coaching and Leadership Coaching

There is some overlap between executive coaching and leadership coaching, but both have distinct characteristics. It’s easy to understand why: executive coaches and leadership coaches both work with managers and CEOs. Both are focused on developing personal growth, and both tend to be highly experienced in managing people, teams and organisations.

Executive coaching is a type of leadership training that helps executives achieve specific goals and objectives. Unlike leadership coaching, it focuses on the individual rather than the team or organisation. This distinction allows leaders to focus on topics that are personally important to them.

Furthermore, executive coaching can enable executives to work on refining their management styles with one-on-one counsel from experienced professionals who have a background in executive management. Having the guidance of an executive coach can help individuals see things differently, identify potential areas of improvement, and track successes while providing valuable insights into how they can reach their goals.

Leadership coaching, on the other hand, is a varied and powerful technique that can assist executives in many ways. From enhancing connections and teamwork within an organisation to establishing management styles and attaining specific goals, leadership coaching can help you build your skill set and leadership talents.

What Does an Executive Coach Do?

An executive coach can help focus a company's CPD initiatives, which can be beneficial to the performance of its teams. Their business experience and understanding of exceptional leadership supports the personal and professional growth of management teams in an organisation.

As a result, an executive coach can help you:

  • evaluate existing executive positions;
  • support your leaders in defining their ideal career pathways;
  • review succession planning, career development, and incentives;
  • create specific actionable steps to complete and goals to reach;
  • track and measure relevant success indicators; and
  • maintain accountability throughout the process of improvement.

Why Is Executive Coaching Important in Business?

No matter what role you’re in, continued growth is essential, and this is especially true for executives like CEOs. As a leader, developing your skills is crucial for both your success and that of your business – the decisions you make directly impact the performance of your organisation.

Consulting an executive coach can help you improve those skills. A coach can assist you in setting goals, outlining a path to attain them, and guiding you through any hurdles that may arise along the way. There are numerous advantages to executive coaching that can affect every element of your work, such as team development and profit generation. But executive coaching is about more than just business success.

When Do You Need an Executive Coach?

People frequently work with coaches when they are stuck in their lives or when they recognise trends in their profession or life that they wish to change. Working with a coach can also be beneficial when going through major life transitions.

When a significant change occurs and new abilities are required, it’s natural for doubt, uncertainty, and even low-level anxiety to enter your mind. The larger the changes, the greater the risk of being overwhelmed by them.

Here are several scenarios in which you might want to hire a coach:

  • I want to move forward in my career, but I'm having trouble getting there.
  • I have a role that demands public speaking, and I am frightened of it.
  • I recently took on a management position. I feel like I don't deserve it.
  • I'm not happy in my career, but I’m not sure how to change.
  • I like my current role, but I want to have a better work-life balance.
  • I want someone objective whom I can talk through business problems with.

Working with a coach can help you navigate the complexities of an executive role. A coach has the skill set to help you untangle conflicting thoughts in your mind so you can become clear on your wants, needs, and desires and design an action plan to achieve the results you want.

Benefits of Executive Coaching

Executive or leadership coaching is professional training that helps business leaders foster crucial skills, personality traits, and habits. It pushes those in positions of authority to become more successful leaders while simultaneously laying the groundwork for a healthier, happier, and more profitable firm.

The personal benefits of coaching are obvious: it develops the necessary leadership qualities required to effectively operate a business and acquire the respect of others. However, we want to discuss advantages that go beyond personal development.

1. Reduce Executive Turnover Rates

One of the main benefits of executive coaching is reducing executive turnover rates. By considering the underlying causes of executive burnout, executive coaching provides personalised guidance and direct feedback to individuals at high executive levels. Working alongside executive coaches can help reduce executive turnover by creating more meaningful connections that build an atmosphere of trust, understanding and successful leadership.

Through executive coaching's focus on increased self-awareness and organisational goal setting, executives can identify areas for improvement within their organisation and organisational policies or procedures that may hinder effectiveness or employee morale. Ultimately, executive coaching allows executives to make thoughtful decisions while increasing their skill set and knowledge base, leading to greater job satisfaction and improved longevity within their current executive role.

2. Improve Your Self-Awareness

Another benefit of executive coaching is that it can increase self-awareness. Self-aware leaders are better able to understand their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the impacts of their behaviour on others. Additionally, self-aware leaders are more likely to be able to adapt their behaviour to achieve desired results.

3. Help Executives Deal with Major Changes

Executive coaching is also very effective in preparing your company for a change.

According to a HBR study, executive coaches are hired 48% of the time to “develop high potentials or facilitate transitions”, which could be a succession, power transfer, company purchase, or even a shift to remote work (like what happened to many companies in 2020). The second- and third-most common reasons for hiring a coach were given as “to act as a sounding board” (26%) and “address derailing behaviour” (12%).

Change occurs in all organisations, whether due to significant expansions, dramatic transitions among the C-suite team, or raising capital. Working with a coach can benefit leaders individually, and what they learn can help the entire firm weather significant changes.

Professional coaching services help leaders become more able to make decisions that facilitate change. They’ll also gain the ability to pilot their firms through turbulent transitions – invaluable for any business leader.

4. Improve Executives' Work-Life Balance

Another benefit of executive coaching is that it can help you improve your work-life balance. An executive coach will help you identify areas where you may be overworked or stressed and provide guidance on better managing your time and energy. They will also help you set boundaries between your work and personal life so that you can focus on what is most important to you.

5. Enhance Leadership Confidence

One of the most crucial attributes any leader can have is confidence. Leaders that are empowered and self-assured make better decisions and help their colleagues trust them. Employees want to feel secure under the guidance of a confident, poised leader, just as a patient wants to trust their surgeon completely.

Although the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ mentality may work for some, employees benefit more when led by a CEO who actively works to self-assess and evolve. True confidence commands respect, whereas manufactured overconfidence has the opposite effect. When leaders invest in leadership challenges and coaching, they not only empower themselves but also their workers.

Perhaps a leader has difficulty speaking in public or second-guesses their actions in front of others. The greatest method to overcome fears and uncertainties is to practise, preferably using expert techniques and under the supervision of a professional executive coach.

6. Improve Job Performance

One of the primary benefits of executive coaching is that it can improve job performance. Executive coaching can help leaders to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in their role. Besides, executive coaching can help executives identify and overcome personal or professional obstacles that may prevent them from reaching their full potential.

7. Promote a Better Company Culture

While we're on the subject of individuals, let's talk about culture. Although executive coaching may appear to be a one-on-one service, it may soon transfer into a better corporate climate.

Employee retention has been a significant issue for many businesses, particularly in recent years. One of the essential strategies for firms to reduce turnover and retain valuable employees is building a better workplace culture in which leadership plays a significant role.

Only 28% of executives truly understand their corporate cultures, despite it being the most potent aspect of company culture formation and evolution.

This is where executive coaching can make a significant difference. Coaching helps executives develop their corporate culture – and thus retain happy, productive people – by fostering self-awareness and an understanding of the organisation's strengths and flaws.

What to Look for in an Executive Coach?

Because no two executive coaches are alike, take your time finding one who suits your learning style and understands your goals. When looking for an executive coach, it's always crucial to do your research and have a brief interview with them before making any commitments. To choose the best coach for you, check for the following characteristics:

  • Credentials: As an executive, it can be difficult to locate someone who can relate to what you’re going through. Credentials and experience are two of the first things you should look for in an executive coach. Having a coach who has been in your shoes can steer you towards success. You should also enquire about possible coaches' outcomes and how they have helped other clients reach their objectives.
  • Chemistry: Once you've found an executive coach, you'll be spending a lot of time with them, so make sure you choose someone with whom you connect. This is why it's critical to have preliminary chats with possible coaches to assess their enthusiasm and experience.
  • Process: When you sign up for executive coaching, you want to know exactly what you're getting into. Ask about their coaching method and what it comprises as you look for a coach, such as how they teach new skills and behaviours, provide feedback, and set objectives.
  • Network: As with their credentials, you should learn about a coach's background and network. A coach with a large network may connect you with sales leaders, strategic partners, and other industry professionals to help you grow.

These are just a few of the things to think about when looking for an executive coach. You can have peace of mind knowing you made the right decision after sitting down and deliberating on which coach to hire. You'll then be able to realise the benefits of executive coaching and propel your company to new heights.

How Much Should I Pay for an Executive Coach?

The location of your coaching business has a significant impact on the income/revenue you will generate. For example, the International Coaching Federation and PwC did a comprehensive analysis in 2016 that gathered income and revenue data from 73 countries and estimated that the average income from coaching internationally in 2016 was US$51,000 or around AU$74,500 (adjusting for inflation, around AU$87,000 today).

So, what is the average cost of an executive coach? To begin, it’s crucial to note that the use of executive coaching increases at the senior level, and the fees that corporations and organisations are ready to pay for executive coaching vary greatly. According to the study:

  • At all levels of the business, the average hourly rate paid to executive coaches ranges from well over US$500 for each session. The usual coaching engagement lasts 3 to 12 months. As a result, annual revenue per coaching client might range from US$12,500 to US$25,000.
  • Organisations with little revenue have the greatest variation in rates paid.
  • Coaches' hourly charges generally rise as the executive being taught advances through the ranks of an organisation and as a company's revenues grow.
  • Executive coaching is reaching junior executive levels in certain businesses, with leaders three to five levels below the CEO participating.
  • Large firms are the least likely to offer counselling to executives two to five levels below the CEO, while companies with $20 billion or more in revenue do not coach their lowest remaining leadership levels.

As the data indicates, executive coaching rates can vary significantly based on the individual coach’s experience and previous successes. At ActionCOACH, for example, our 12-week programs start at $1,200, with one-on-one executive coaching averaging around AU$5,000 per month. 

How to Measure Executive Coach Results

Executive coaches are becoming an increasingly popular resource; many executive leaders are looking to enhance performance and get the most out of their employees while focusing on the future. Measuring executive coach results is an essential part of assessing the success of executive coaching.

The primary way to measure executive coach results is through before/after surveys that assess areas such as satisfaction and confidence. This provides valuable data to determine whether executive coaching strategies are working and how successful they have been.

How to Become an Executive Coach

If you’re interested in becoming an executive coach, the following steps may help you pursue a career:

1. Gain Experience

Before pursuing an executive coaching profession, you should have at least 10 years of experience in a leadership post. This will provide you with the necessary abilities. Executive coaches can come from backgrounds as diverse as corporate executives, consultants, human resources professionals, training practitioners, or professional therapists.

Accept responsibilities that allow you to establish plans and goals for a complete team to obtain leadership experience. Aim for a high-level management or leadership position inside your firm to improve executive coaching skills and enhance your resume.

2. Develop Leadership Skills

Leadership skills are a set of qualities that enable you to effectively lead a team. These skills may include:

  • Problem-solving abilities. Effective leaders can detect and address problems that develop on the job. Offering to help others solve their challenges allows you to appraise diverse circumstances while also assisting your team members.
  • Critical-thinking skills. This entails obtaining data and facts to make an informed conclusion. Effective leaders can make high-level judgments with confidence, and their critical-thinking talents enable them to construct comprehensive plans.
  • Teaching skills. The ability to teach enables an executive coach to effectively instruct clients. Find opportunities to educate others in diverse settings and become familiar with various learning styles to improve this leadership skill.

3. Continue Your Education

A role as an executive coach requires continual personal improvement. You can attend seminars or conferences and take additional courses to maintain your current skill set and learn new coaching techniques. Maintaining current industry knowledge can also help you discover the latest technologies and skills needed to excel as a leader.


Executive coaching is something that every leader needs. An executive coach can assist and enhance an executive’s performance, productivity, and personal well-being. The coach also supports executives to formulate more effective approaches and strategies for meeting business goals, achieving desired outcomes and managing organisational change.

Executive coaches guide goal-setting, strategy development, and interpersonal communication. Through this process, executives can improve their leadership style and find greater success in their roles as leaders of their businesses.

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Written by ActionCOACH March 15, 2023
ActionCOACH is recognised as the creator and most successful practitioner of business and executive coaching methodology that offers owners and managers a new perspective on their businesses and companies.