What Is Executive Coaching? What Are the Different Types of Executive Coaching?

January 20, 2022

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In the last decade, the demand for executive coaching services has risen rapidly, with many premier organisations encouraging their employees to avail the skills of executive coaches or executive coaching organizations. 

This reflects in the trends for executive coaching in 2022 put out by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) after an industry-wide research study that surveyed over 1000 internal coaches, external coaches, and managers practicing coaches.

Some of the trends that will be prevalent in 2024 include:

  • Leadership development programs with additional coaching – both with internal and external executive coaches – will be in demand 
  • Leader-as-coach training (which focuses on enhancing coaching skills of corporate leaders) will be the second-favored trend 
  • Executive coaching for millennials will be preferred 
  • Group & Team coaching will continue to be popular 
  • External executive coaching services will see a substantial rise 
  • There will be greater use of coaching management software to deliver a seamless coaching experience 
  • Coaching fees will see a decrease; app-based coaching platforms will offer a low-cost virtual coaching 

Keep reading to find out about executive coaching, the different types of professional executive coaching, the benefits & skillset required for an effective executive coach, and more.

What Is Executive Coaching? 

Executive coaching is focused on developing or honing the skill sets of leaders, whether they are C-suite execs or team leads, that enables out-of-the-box thought processes, increased experimentation with newer processes and methodologies, improved interpersonal communication, committing to set action steps, and firm decision-making – all of which eventually result in helping the client achieve their desired goals. 

An executive coach helps their professional client upgrade their leadership skills that can help solve complex organizational issues, bring about a positive change to boost employee morale, and build high-performance teams that can effectively be more productive and deliver successful outputs. 

Executive coaching services are primarily aimed at those leaders, top executives, managers, etc., who understand that their roles will require more flexible and upgraded skill sets and who realize the importance of analyzing their thoughts as well as adding skills to their existing repertoire to unlock their true capabilities. All this allows them to bring extra value and deliver positive outcomes for themselves as well as for their team & company.

When an organization invests in the services of an executive coach, they are essentially trusting and supporting their leadership by providing them the medium to improve & fulfill their potential and deliver transformative results for themselves as well as the organization.  

What Does an Executive Coach Help With?

Executive coaching earlier used to be more of a fix-it venture – hire a coach when employees are left in a bunch or when the quarterly results were alarmingly low or there were troubles brewing between the leadership and employees. 

Of course, that has all changed significantly over the last decade, with professional executive coaching now being looked upon as solid, reliable, professionally-trained support and guidance givers that can provide a lasting & positive impact on communication, business performance, and leadership skills of the corporate clientele. 

These are a list of things an executive coach can help address: 

  • Performance: When an individual faces a challenge overcoming certain roadblocks that affect their performance, an executive coach can help pinpoint the exact problem or a blind spot, assess particular behaviors that impede progress, and then help chart a roadmap to address that concern.
  • Scale: One more level of executive coaching is when the number of people that a leader has to manage goes up vastly. For instance, a senior manager who was previously managing a team of 20 individuals suddenly has to manage a much larger team of 150 due to merging of departments; in this scenario, an executive coach can help their client address and resolve some larger challenges, such as optimum time management, man management, interpersonal communication skills, etc. to ensure enhanced productivity and success.
  • Promotion: When an individual contributor gets promoted to a managerial/leadership capacity it can be a task to update the mindset from thinking about a singular contribution to thinking about an entire team. An executive coach can become the right guide to help the newly-appointed leader navigate the dynamics of listening, assessing, developing, directing, and providing feedback to a group of individuals that results in all round improved performance for both the individual and the team.
  • Position: This type of executive coaching is specifically for top management – the CEOs, CFOs, MDs, Presidents, Vice Presidents, etc. These are the individuals who are already outstanding performers in their organizations, holding positions of critical decision-making as well as responsibility, but who may require assistance in updating their skillsets in specific areas that can have a long-term impact in not just their individual performance but also on the entire organization.

4 Types of Executive Coaching

With their responsibilities evolving over the years, executive coaching has also progressed into several sub-niche areas. Some of the well-known types of executive coaching are as follows:

1. Career-oriented

One of the most well-known types of executive coaching is for career transition and advancement. These are specialist coaches who identify their client’s passions, strengths, and limitations and then map out a strategy to integrate those for a successful career change. Although in recent times, many top companies have in-house processes (such as on-premise career advisors) to deal with the career aspirations of their employees rather than outsourcing to an external executive coach. 

2. Business 

Business executive coaching is a subset of executive coaching with a slight difference, in that executive coaches are more focused on the individual development journey that results in benefits for the organisation as well, while a business executive coach is aligned to the vision and growth of the organisation right at the outset of structuring a coaching program. 

3. Strategic/Organisational 

Leadership positions have to juggle multiple tasks and duties, from finances, HR, appraisals, business, sales, etc., all of which require precise time management. Organising your day planner to ensure optimum value for the available time slots is a skill that is much in demand. Executive coaches who specialize in strategic/organisational coaching mostly guide leaders to find the right time management models that make the best use of their schedules for gaining maximum output.  

4. Therapeutic/Emotionally Curative 

The title may be misleading as therapeutic or curative coaching is not visiting your therapist to talk about past traumas and neither is it personal coaching. A healthy, well-balanced, emotionally stable, and grounded employee will always have higher creativity, productivity, morale, and motivation to succeed, and be a team player, thus delivering better results to the business as opposed to a disturbed and stressed individual. Slowly, organisations are recognising the importance of mental health and this field of executive coaching may well gain in the coming years. 

Who Needs Executive Coaching? 

Any individual, at any level of leadership, who wants to be a better future version of themselves would benefit from executive coaching services.

Unlike say a decade and a half ago, when executive coaches were hired only for their fire-fighting abilities, the reasons to bring in an executive coach are vastly different today. 

The main reason that the biggest organizations want to engage an executive coach is to develop new capabilities or enhance pre-existing capabilities of their management in order to drive the success of the company. 

Of course, professional executive coaching does not work just by hiring the best coach in the market – all the stakeholders, including the executive coach, the client, and the organization, have to be in sync and need to make coaching their priority (and not treat it as an after-thought) in order to have a successful output to the coaching process. 

Benefits of Executive Coaching

 Although executive coaching outcomes do depend on specific goals pre-set by the executive coach and the client, there are many broad benefits that executive coaching services can deliver to clients:

  • Effective, ethical, result-driven leadership 
  • Adapting and choosing the right leadership style to suit a range of situations
  • Higher self-awareness and discipline – both personally & professionally 
  • Precise & effective management of weaknesses  
  • Open, out-of-the-box thinking and experimentation with newer methodologies 
  • Imparting higher levels of motivation & inspiration to team members to work hard & perform to their best abilities 
  • More empathy toward team 
  • Better time management and organisation
  • Reduced mental stress 
  • Improved work-life balance 

ROI on Executive Coaching 

The effects of executive coaching are wide-ranging and long-term. According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF) report of 2020, the ROI of executive coaching was seven times the initial investment. The ICF report states that the leaders who participated in the survey reported a 50-70% rise in job performance, better time management as well as effective team performance. 

Effective executive coaching programs help companies have stronger leaders, overall higher productivity, reduced attrition rates, increased volumes, and larger profit margins.  

Executive coaching is a strong tool that helps individuals who hold higher up positions and have the decision-making ability in their organizations to become more effective, flexible, and hands-on leaders via a wide range of behavioral processes & techniques. It helps them identify and set actionable goals that better individual functioning as well as professional performance that ultimately results in improved effectiveness, productivity & profit margins of their organization. 

Understanding the Roles and Impact of Executive Coaching

What is an executive coach and what does an executive coach do? At the core, an executive coach is a qualified professional who works with individuals (usually executives, managers, and leaders) to help them gain self-awareness, clarify goals, achieve their development objectives, unlock their potential, and act as a sounding board. They are involved in coaching for executives and often specialize in various niches within executive coaching, including executive and personal coaching, and corporate executive coaching.

The types of coaches within the executive coaching realm vary, with some focusing on leadership development, others on career transition, and yet others on enhancing personal effectiveness. The best executive coaches are those who not only have a profound understanding of business dynamics but also possess the empathy, listening skills, and the ability to provoke thought in their clients, leading to impactful changes.

The distinction between executive and personal coaching is subtle yet significant. While executive coaching focuses on professional growth and development within the context of the workplace, personal coaching may delve into personal goals and challenges that extend beyond the professional sphere, although both can significantly impact an individual’s effectiveness as a leader.

In essence, those who coach executive professionals play a pivotal role in their leadership development, equipping them with the tools, knowledge, and confidence to navigate the complexities of modern business environments. Through corporate executive coaching, organizations invest in the potential of their leaders, driving the success of their teams and, ultimately, the entire organization.

You can read more about executive coaching here.


1. What is the purpose of executive coaching?

Executive coaching is a target-oriented process that focuses on making leaders more effective by identifying the objectives of the leader and creating a structure to achieve those goals. It also imparts a personalized learning experience to the executives such as sharpening their key skills and developing newer capabilities that enables them to improve upon personal and team functioning, while also benefitting the overall productivity and performance of their organization. 

2. What can be expected from executive coaching?

High-level executive coaching services can provide a great opportunity for personal and professional development. Executive coaching can help the leader gain self-awareness, clarify goals, achieve their objectives and unlock their true potential. Executive coaches can provide a safe and confidential environment and become solid sounding boards for their clients, guiding them to identify and solve their problems by themselves.

In a nutshell executive coaching can help leaders further develop their managerial skills which will result in improved work performance, for themselves and their company. 

3. How is executive coaching different from business coaching? 

Although on the surface executive coaching and business coaching may seem similar there is a crucial difference. 

Executive coaching is mainly focused on identifying the goals of leaders (CEOs, Directors, MDs, team leads, mid-level managers, etc.) and setting action plans in place to achieve those objectives. Executive coaching is centred on individuals who want greater self-awareness of their limitations and find means to remove them and those who want to become better at their work, learn new skills and improve their results. 

Business coaching although similar to executive coaching has one vital difference: instead of the individual’s goals and vision, business coaching is more aligned with the organisation’s vison and goals. The business coach has to have an understanding of the business as well as experience in creating and implementing strategies that will have an overall long-term, positive impact on the business productivity and performance. 

About Simply.Coach

Simply.Coach is an enterprise-grade coaching software designed to be used by individual coaches and coaching businesses. Trusted by ICF-accredited and EMCC-credentialed coaches worldwide, Simply.Coach is on a mission to elevate the experience and process of coaching with technology-led tools and solutions.  

About the author

An avid reader with love for books on history, sci-fi and popular fiction, Pallavi is a gifted content writer. She is also a keen listener of Indian semi & classical music. Currently, she juggles her duties of being a full-time mom with part-time content writing.

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