What does it mean to be an exceptional executive coach and what does it take? A study of the practices and personal attributes of exceptional executive coaches provides valuable information both for purchasers of executive coaching services and executive coaches themselves.
Gavin R. Dagley’s study sought to understand what the typical purchasers of executive coaches (human resources professionals) considered to be the outcomes of exceptional executive coaching and what the underlying factors to these outcomes were.
His study found that the single most important outcome was “behaviour change” measured both by the executives themselves and by their colleagues. Critically, such change was not about compliance but was profound and sustained. These changes manifested themselves in:
- Personal outcomes (eg increased self-confidence, motivation, etc)
- Realisation of potential (eg career development, retention, etc)
So what did these coaches do that weaker executive coaches did not? Capabilities included:
- Empathy and respect
- Holding the professional self
- Diagnostic skill and insight
- Approach flexibility and range
- Working to the business context
- A philosophy of personal responsibility
- Skilful challenging
Dagley’s findings indicate that these capabilities are not necessarily absent in weaker coaches but that exceptional executive coaches “are able to deliver against all and any of these quite basic characteristics and deliver at an observably superior level of expertise”.
As a consequence, executives typically experienced:
- Deeper conversations
- Insight and responsibility
In comparing exceptional coaches with weaker coaches, comments included “the weaker coach just plays out what is in front of him, and then drags out one of his tools or techniques…” while exceptional coaches are “able to get to deeper conversations more quickly, and motivate people to take personal responsibility for their own development and growth”.
Dagley concludes that exceptional coaches display “exquisite expertise” and that they are differentiated from other coaches by “the essentially human and personal qualities that underpin such expertise”.
To learn more about our exceptional coaches and the profound and sustained change we can develop in your people, contact us.
To read the full study, see Exceptional executive coaches: Practices and attributes – International Coaching Psychology Review Volume 5 No. 1 March 2010.