Why Executive Coaching Works

Shelley SmithBlog, Executive Coaching


Why executive coaching and why now?

image by Sara Frantzman

image by Sara Frantzman

Failure rates for senior executives have been pegged at up to 33 percent. More recent research shows that executives who are rated high on interpersonal effectiveness (aka emotional intelligence) outperform low-rated executives by 15 – 20% on yearly revenue targets. In this fast-paced, highly competitive business environment, the value of capitalizing on that kind of edge is obvious. Executive coaching is the method to provide enduring results for executives who want to play at the top of their game.

Coaching provides individually-tailored training needs, as well as team participation, at the right time for today’s extremely busy executives. What does it take to build an effective executive coaching process? The following key elements:

  • DISCOVERY through DISCUSSIONS, gathering information, and ASSESSMENT
  • DEFINE what I saw, what I heard, and what I see to be true in the DEBRIEFING
  • DEVELOP strategy, and a plan with tactics
  • DELIVER in the manner needed, whether verbally, in a presentation, written, hands on, etc., and exceed expectations and implementation
  • DRIVE it home by making sure it sticks and making sure reflection happens. Necessary degrees in action steps are change, moved, corrected to continue the further development of the process, the person, and the team. Always seek continuous improvement, engagement, and buy-in.

Discovery in any executive coaching process is the assessment phase. It’s impossible to develop a top-notch coaching plan for anyone without first assessing who they are and what they need. The assessment phase generally consists of three components:

  1. An in-depth assessment interview
  2. Developmental feedback interviews with key stakeholders
  3. Sophisticated leadership personality assessment using validated personality tools

A first-rate executive assessment can help any executive more objectively identify his/her own leadership strengths and weaknesses to create a customized development process for him/herself. The same process can be used to help a management team work better together by understanding more clearly how to work more effectively with their differing personalities.

Define and Debrief

The debriefing by the executive coach is both a continuation of the assessment phase and the preliminary ground laying for action planning. The debriefing is a two-way process where the executive interacts with the coach regarding the results of the assessment process. Often, the reactions of the executive (e.g., defensiveness, denials, embellishments, etc.) provide further data for developing action plans and for use by the coach to help motivate an executive to stretch and grow.

With the additional data gathered during the debriefing, you are ready to proceed to the next step of executive coaching: action planning.


After the executive and coach come to an agreement on what developmental needs take priority (identifying which are truly achievable and most important), the executive develops an action plan. The coach helps the executive understand the benefits to change and the consequences if he/she doesn’t. This then becomes a powerful motivational tool.

They look for real-time situations where the executive can practice new behavior that he/she has learned through the coaching process. A time frame for completion of specific tasks is developed (without firm dates for completion, people tend to put off practicing difficult new behaviors), and implementation begins. The action plan becomes the tool to compare what is wished for to what is achieved.


Now the executive practices his/her newly learned or refined skills by keeping track of the results: Successes, failures, and resistances, as well as any other factors that might derail the development process. The executive then meets periodically with the coach to reassess and refine the developmental process.


Reporting back to the coach and reviewing his/her progress is the next phase. Reassessment and refinement then becomes an ongoing process between the executive and the coach to help refine their stroke, so to speak. When striving for personal excellence, a continuous development process becomes a part of daily living for high-performing executives. A first-class executive coaching process can help you accelerate your professional development, as well as that of your team.

Would you like to hear more?

Contact Premier Rapport to learn more about how executive coaching can give you “the edge” necessary to perform at the top of your game.