Executive Coaching or Life Coaching: Which one is right for you? 

May 25, 2023

As the fog of the pandemic disappears slowly, its lingering societal remnants have left many reconsidering their careers and lifestyle. In seeing how abruptly life can radically alter, many are seeking self-transformation to improve the quality of their work and home lives. While some have the desire to deliver results with less stress, others have the desire to up-level professionally and become a more empowered leader within their organisation. Others are more focused on delivering their company results in difficult situations. But can you have a high-pressure role with big responsibilities and feel well? Many Executives and CEOs don’t believe it is possible. It is one of the other. I believe you can have both.

If you have considered work life balance but have been unsure where to begin, executive coaching may be life coaching for executives is what you need to feel in control again and kick-start positive change in your work life.  

“Any leader who is serious about supporting their team and any organisation that is serious about supporting their workforce need to shape and support a well-being culture.” - Richard SafeerAuthor of “A Cure for the Common Company: A Well-Being Prescription for a Healthier, Happier, and More Resilient Workforce”.

This article explores the benefits of executive coaching which is focused on delivering business results, and life coaching for executives which is focused on reaching results by improving well-being of executives to learn to perform from a place of well-being and create a well-being culture in their workplace.


What is Executive Coaching?

Established over 25 years ago, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) offers a globally recognized and accredited credentials program designed to empower people to master the art of coaching. Having over 20,000 members worldwide, the ICF defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. 

If our issues were all to do with knowledge, then we wouldn’t need coaching but simply training. Most of us know what we should do to be well, but we don’t do it. Why? Because 95 % of our thoughts, feelings and actions are subconscious. Coaching is a way to uncover subconscious patterns which no longer serve us by working on the intangible more implicit topics like emotions, relationships, human behaviour, untapped potential and much more. The ICF claims that the fundamental pillars of coaching are professionalism, collaboration, humanity, and equity. For me, the aim is to provide a safe space for senior leaders who are often alone with high stake issues and have nowhere to go to explore their thoughts, bounce ideas, and solve problems that only they deal with at work.


Benefits of coaching

The following is a short list of some of the benefits you can experience while working with an executive coach:  

1. Understanding your personality type: strengths and weaknesses

Learning about yourself can sometimes be difficult as, naturally, like us all, you will have blind spots, or may have perceptions of yourself that are distorted. For example, some clients tell me they want to work on something like confidence, and they are already demonstrating confidence in some areas, but the issue is how they perceive themselves in other areas. It’s important to identify strengths and weaknesses that are keeping you from reaching your short- and long-term goals.

Working with a coach can help you uncover those blind spots in your personality, habits, communication, conflict style, and more. By doing this, you can become a more self-aware to make better choices for yourself and as a result you become a more conscious leader. 

2. Receive honest feedback that no one else tells you

Receiving feedback from a coach is different from receiving it from a colleague, boss, friend, or family member where biases and hidden agendas are often involved. By offering unbiased opinions, coaches can provide solution-based approaches designed to help you reach your goals without projecting their own subconscious interest and judgements. That is where the magic happens, when the coach mirrors back your own beliefs for you to recognise for yourself. These beliefs will be the ones which hold you back from reaching your goals. It is only when you see them for yourself that you can then take steps to change them.

Coaches can also offer you a different perspective on your leadership and communication styles and challenge you to try new methods within your team or those you interact with most frequently. This type of radical constructive feedback will rarely reach you in any other way especially when you are a senior leader.

3. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable

There are often uncomfortable topics, situations, and feelings that we avoid as we navigate life and professional environments. As a senior leader you will be in your comfort zone a lot of your time, but to make radical changes, it often requires making difficult decisions on unfamiliar situations.

On a personal level, coaches can challenge you to peel back more layers to get you closer to understanding who you are really to see how you are impacting your relationships and situations. It is such self-awareness which helps change company cultures, and employee engagement. The relationship of a CEO with his leadership team usually sets the company culture dynamics. So, if the CEO changes how he perceives himself and his team, the company culture will change as different decisions will be made. From a professional standpoint, coaches may inquire about your results, your relationship managing up, and managing down, your capacity to deal with a difficult conversation, your sense of compassion, existing team dynamic, your capacity to inspire, public speaking impact and leadership styles to see if there are opportunities for improvement based on the challenges you are facing.

3. Master goal setting and time management

The more senior you become the less time you have. What you choose to spend your time with becomes a skill in itself. This can always be optimised, and small changes can have a big impact fast.

You may have broad long-term goals but find that they are difficult to take to task. Coaches can partner with you to prioritise and create smaller measurable goals that will help you to get more specific with your goal roadmap. Many coaches utilise SMART goals by George T. Doran as a start and add their variance to adapt to the client’s request:

 Specific: Succinct and well-defined 

Measurable: Quantifiable

Achievable: Realistic

Relevant: A priority based on business/personal needs and broader goals

Time-bound: Accountable to a deadline

 I work with your PCM personality type to tailor suitable goals which will work to give you more energy and a sense of achievement. More about PCM below. Reviewing goal setting and time management is usually always part of my work.

4. Increase self-confidence

Having an executive coach is like having a personal cheerleader to succeed at work and at life. Everything that your coach does is tailored to helping you succeed. They give you access to their endless toolbox (some of which are mentioned below). All these tools are designed to help create introspection and empowerment within yourself for lasting impact. In turn, you’ll likely gain stress management techniques, mindfulness, and self-regulation skills that will boost your confidence and help you access clarity of thought to make better decisions. You can never undo self-awareness, so once you learn new ways of being, sustaining this is simply a matter of choice. If you notice tangible benefits from changing how you show up, you tend to keep doing it, because you will notice the negative impact of not doing this much more.


Executive Coaching and Life Coaching: What is the difference? 

 While there is an overlap in tools and methodologies for personal and professional development, there are still some notable distinctions. Personal development practises focus on the improvement of your personal life, subjects like confidence, romantic and family relationships, stress management, well-being, and career transitions. All these factors can of course impact your work life and results because if you improve your relationship with yourself, you will produce better work.

Less professional qualifications are needed for life coaching and it isn’t regulated as coaches tend to use their life experiences. While executive coaching may also touch on these topics, it is tied back to the intention to deliver results for your company and your performance. Executive coaching is regulated and professional qualifications are needed to validate knowledge and experience. Companies tend to fund this type of leadership development. 

When I work one-on-one it tends to be mostly with Senior Executives in companies with a CEO, CRO, VP, or Senior Director role for fast and high-impact results. Sales Leaders also find this blend of life and professional coaching impacts their results and so I phrase this service as a blend of the two: Life Coaching for Executives.  My Life coaching for Executives service is leveraging executive coaching qualification and deep life transformative experience. Find out more about my Life Coaching for Executives service here


 Coaching industry research

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global coaching certification body which conducts ongoing research on professional coaching industry trends. Their 2023 industry study conducted by survey fieldwork revealed several key findings. Here are a few highlights pulled from the study:

  • Notwithstanding the pandemic, between 2019 and 2022, the coaching profession continued to expand at a robust pace. In 2022, the estimated number of coach practitioners exceeded 100,000 for the first time, reaching 109,200, representing a 54% increase on the 2019 global estimate.”
  • Leadership was the main area of coaching most frequently mentioned in the 2022 survey (34%), followed by executive coaching (17%) and business/organizations (13%). Along with small business (3%), those four areas of coaching are referred to collectively as business coaching throughout the report.”
  • Almost all coach practitioners (93%) offer services in addition to coaching. Most frequently, coaches also offer consulting (59%), training (58%), and/or facilitation services (55%).”

This data showcases areas of demand and continued growth within the coaching industry which suggests its efficacy.  


Where do you go if you want coaching but you are not a Leader? 

So where do professionals go to improve their results at work and their quality of life? Today, they would need to seek a life coach with the professional experience that they seek, and this can be expensive. This is why I founded The Self-Science Lab, a place where Leaders and Professionals can go to seek personal development to improve their lives and their work. Instead of one-to-one expensive executive or leadership coaching, I have designed affordable group coaching workshops to develop stress management, communication, and confidence skills which can be applied to work and life situations. Clients tend to pay themselves or expense workshops back to their companies. Find out more here.

Closing thoughts - Try Life Coaching for Executives 

If you are a senior executive or leader then coaching will help you reach your professional goals faster with proven methodologies, hands-on techniques and by unlocking self-awareness. My Life Coaching for Executives will focus on improving your relationships and results by working on improving how you manage your well-being, communication, and influence.

Still unsure if executive coaching could help you reach your goals? Let’s chat!     

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