There was a time when leadership coaching was reserved for those leaders who needed to “shape up” in a particular area before being shown the door. That’s not the case today. In fact, most senior leaders attribute at least part of their success to having worked with an effective executive coach.

According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review and Carol Kauffman of Harvard Medical School, the top three reasons that executive coaches are engaged are:

  1. Develop high potentials or facilitate transition (48% of respondents)
  2. Act as a sounding board (26% of respondents)
  3. Address derailing behaviors (12% of respondents)

For those in the C-suite of an organization, whether large or small, navigating the often-challenging waters of economic trends, tough decisions, internal politics, etc., can be a lonely ride.  And it can be hard to get honest feedback (or necessary pushback) when you’re the “big boss.” You need an objective third party who will ask the tough questions, give you honest feedback, and help you think through the best way forward. And that’s where an executive coach comes in.

The HBR survey also showed that for a coaching relationship to be successful, the executive must be highly motivated to learn and grow. Coaching is most likely not going to benefit someone who has a know-it-all mentality or who isn’t open to constructive feedback. It’s also important that the coach and the executive have a good rapport. In fact, the survey showed that regardless of how experienced or credentialed the coach is, if they’re not a good fit for the executive the trust required for the relationship to succeed will probably not develop.

I know from the feedback I’ve received from the leaders I’ve coached and from my own experience working with a coach that when it’s the right fit there are numerous benefits to be derived in each of the top three reasons mentioned above.

Development/transition. A good coach will help you become more self-aware, so you can understand and build on your strengths, and identify those areas where you need to develop. They will help you think through and plan for a transition to a new role or different organization and (most importantly) keep it confidential. That’s why trust is so important.

Sounding board. A good coach will help you get “unstuck.” They’ll listen, ask questions, and then help you find the clarity, focus and confidence you need to take action.

Address behaviors. The more senior you are in leadership, the less likely it is that someone will call you on a behavior that might be derailing your effectiveness as a leader. A good coach will have tools – a 360-feedback instrument, for example – that will help you recognize those behaviors and develop a plan to reduce or eliminate them.

Most importantly, a good coach combined with your willingness to be coached and your desire to learn and grow, will help you become a better leader, no matter where you are in the organization.

Contact me at for a free consultation to see whether leadership coaching is right for you.