What does an executive coach really do? By Heather Bordo

blog-logo.gifFor those who have never worked with an executive coach - and even for those who have - the work of an executive coach can be perceived as somewhat nebulous and difficult to describe or quantify in any real way.  Some I've talked to assume that an executive coach is simply a paid sounding board for executives and senior leaders who can't - because of the roles they play - bounce their ideas off their key stakeholders or staff.

While active listening is certainly a critical coaching skill, the role of an effective executive coach calls for a number of demonstrable and tangible skills, some of which include:

  • demonstrating strong knowledge and understanding of the business s/he is working in, the context and role the "coachee" is operating in, the vision, goals and objectives of the organization and its stakeholders and how the organization assesses the coachee's performance and results
  • demonstrating proficiency in systems thinking - the ability to see and help the coachee recognize the broader picture (of his/her role, opportunities and actions), the ability to apply a systems perspective to patterns of activity, recognize interdependencies across people and processes and draw parallels with events and data that are not obviously connected
  • helping the coachee to create and communicate a compelling vision for the future and demonstrate leadership behaviours that support that vision, and
  • facilitating the development and implementation of strategic and operational plans and the development of strategies for leading and managing organizational change.

The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) - the leading international association dedicated exclusively to the professional business coach and business coaching - has identified a list of "master-level" professional business competencies that set business coaching apart from other types of coaching.

The business coaching competencies developed by WABC are divided into three areas:

  • Self-Management–Knowing Oneself and Self-Mastery
  • Core Coaching Skill-base
  • Business and Leadership Coaching Capabilities

I would encourage any organization seeking a truly skilled and highly competent business coach and any executive coach seeking to assess their skills against a thoroughly researched and validated benchmark to review WABC's business coaching competencies - they provide excellent insight into what an executive coach really does.

Click here to see the detailed description of the WABC competencies.

Heather Bordo is an executive and strategic coach who helps leaders think differently to clarify their goals, articulate their strategies, focus their efforts and deliver results.  More information about Heather can be found at www.bordoandassociates.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.

Posted by Heather Bordo

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