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Differences in Personal and Executive Coaching

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Executive coaching agendas are focused on the presumption that the coaching will in some fashion influence the client’s performance in the workplace. In executive coaching, discussions often relate to strategy, team optimization, emotional intelligence, professional development and organization systems, structure, and staffing as well as culture and values. The coach may assist in the informational learning of the client by co-creating learning opportunities around best practice in these areas.

However, since personal factors are ultimately part of what hinders performance, executive coaching will also include transformational learning around values, emotions, assumptions and beliefs. Because of its transformational elements, coaching around work and leadership goals is often transferable to the client’s personal growth. And coaching around personal issues is often transferable to the client’s professional or leadership growth. The key differences reside in the setting of the agenda.

Types of Executive Coaching

Distinct categories of executive coaching are defined by different underlying objectives. What we see in each of these executive coaching scenarios are different levels of organizational influence on the client’s goals and coaching process.  This degree of influence will impact the level of sophistication required by the coach in understanding the organization.

Executive development coaching is the integration of leadership training with coaching. This may be found in many Executive MBA programs where coaching of the student is part of the curriculum. The intent is to help students integrate learning into action, to explore barriers to learning, develop communication strategies with team and cohort members, and/or to debrief assessments and enhance self-awareness.  As a development coach for the EMBA program at University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, I worked with a group of coaches to coach with the students over the course of their studies. We debriefed a number of assessments and defined and coached against development objectives.  Because the students were fully employed while attending the EMBA program, the development objectives included diverse academic-inspired objectives as well as at-work objectives.  For example, one client’s objectives included working more effectively with a difficult team in deploying learnings from leadership competency readings and assessments that were presented in the curriculum.

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