Everything You Need to Know about Executive and Career Coaching

March 30, 2023

Posted by BOLDLY

Investing in the professional growth and development of your staff is essential to your organisation’s success. And one of the most effective ways to do this is through career and executive coaching. In this blog post, we will explore all you should know about executive and career coaching and how it can help your people to develop and thrive.

What is Career Coaching?

A career coach enables individuals to identify and achieve their career goals. This type of coach is a trained professional who works one-on-one with individuals or small groups to assess their skills, interests and values and then helps them develop a plan to achieve their desired career outcomes using structured frameworks and a strong knowledge of ‘how careers work’.

What Happens During Career Coaching?

The career coaching process typically begins with an initial consultation where the coach and the client discuss the client's career goals and objectives. The coach will ask questions about the client's current job, skills, experiences and long-term career aspirations. This information helps the coach to develop a tailored plan to help the client achieve their career goals.

The career coaching process may involve a variety of activities, including:

  1. Assessments: A career coach may use various psychometric assessments to help clients identify their strengths, preferred styles and areas for improvement.
  2. Goal Setting: They will work with the client to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) career goals to guide the coaching process.
  3. Skill Development: The coach may also work directly with the coachee on improving skills such as communication, leadership and problem-solving. For technical skills required for the career goal to be achieved, the coach and coachee will work together to define key experiences or courses that will help achieve the goal.
  4. Career Transition Strategies: The coach may help clients with career change strategies such as networking and interviewing skills. This can be beneficial for individuals looking to progress internally within their organization, or who are making a change across business units, and doesn’t necessarily always involve a job search.

Benefits of Career Coaching

businessmen in the middle of a coaching session

The benefits of career coaching are numerous, for both the individual being coached and the team and organisation around them. Here are just a few:

  1. Clarity: Career coaching can help individuals gain clarity on their career goals and aspirations. By working with a coach, individuals can identify their strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan to leverage their strengths to achieve their career goals. This clarity allows them to make career decisions confidently, and maintain a focus on their objectives and performance.
  2. Confidence: A coach can provide feedback and encouragement, helping individuals overcome self-doubt and confusion as they make career transitions, which helps them build confidence in their general abilities. This confidence at critical career decision points supports a smoother runway to productivity where role changes happen.
  3. Accountability: Career coaching can also help individuals stay accountable to their goals. A coach can help individuals set achievable goals and hold them accountable for their progress, while ensuring progress is tracked and celebrated. This brings traction of career transitions into sharp focus for the individual and their business.

Who Needs Career Coaching?

Career coaching can benefit individuals at all stages of their careers. Whether an individual is just starting out in their career or is an experienced professional looking to change, a career coach can help. Career coaching can be beneficial at any stage of career, however it’s particularly relevant when an individual has a change on the horizon, such as promotion, or strategic career planning to ensure succession planning for an organisation.

Is Career Coaching Effective?

Career coaching can be highly effective for individuals looking to achieve their career progression and skill-acquisition goals. For instance, individuals who participate in career coaching can see increased job satisfaction, higher levels of career success and improved work-life balance. This results from an increased self-efficacy in individuals who undertake coaching - they feel more in control and confident in the mastery of their career paths. 

Overall, career coaching can be highly effective for individuals looking to achieve their career goals. However, the effectiveness of career coaching depends on several factors, including the quality of the coach, rapport between the coach and coachee, the individual's level of commitment to the coaching process, and the suitability of the coaching approach for the individual's specific needs and circumstances. It is essential to find a qualified career coach with experience working with evidence-based careers frameworks to maximise the effectiveness of the coaching experience.

What is Executive Coaching?

By comparison to career coaching, Executive coaching is a form of coaching designed to help executives improve their leadership skills and achieve their professional goals. The two terms can of course apply to the same coaching engagement - an executive going through a career transition such as promotion into the C-suite is going through a career transition, and is an executive at the same time - so a coach with knowledge of both career coaching and executive caoching is needed. Buyers of coaching often get too focused on the dilenation of coaching types - in reality, the same coach might be able to do both. In general, an executive coach works with executives to assess their leadership style, identify areas for improvement and create a plan to enhance their effectiveness as leaders. It is a more fluid coaching style, and tends to engage the coachee more intellectually, philosophically and emotionally, while also using evidence based frameworks for structured development. Career coaching may be perceived as more tactical by comparison.

What Happens During An Executive Coaching Engagement?

female career coach talking to client

The executive coaching process typically begins with an initial consultation, where the coach and the executive discuss the executive's goals and objectives. This phase may involve other stakeholders or HR, to ensure the relevant colleagues around the executive are engaged in their goal setting and development. The coach will ask a series of questions about the executive's current role, responsibilities and challenges they are facing, and may delve into their background experiences, beliefs and personality. This information helps the coach to develop a tailored plan and to start building a case conceptualisation to help the executive achieve their goals.

The executive coaching process may involve a variety of activities, including:

  1. Assessments: An executive coach may use psychometric or 360 assessments of the client at the beginning of the coaching process to help them identify their strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. The assessment chosen should have demonstrable reliability, and should be aligned to a research-backed leadership model.
  2. Goal Setting: The coach will work with the executive to set realistic goals to guide the coaching process and create a clear direction for the client. These goals can be strategic and complex, or are often incredibly simple and defined at the executive level, however they often evolve over time as the executive’s organisation evolves.
  3. Competency Development: The executive coach will guide the client in improving leadership skills, such as communication, strategic thinking and decision-making. These competencies should be defined in the context of the organisations goals and strategies, and also relative to the insights from the assessment. Focusing on competencies as a unit of development allows the coach and leader to have a nuanced conversation about the impact of their knowledge, attitudes and behaviours on the teams and business around them.

Benefits of Executive Coaching

The benefits of executive coaching are numerous, for both the executive and their organisation. Here are just a few:

  1. Leadership Development: Executive coaching can help executives discover and develop useful leadership skills that will enable them to lead people more effectively, fine-tuning the productivity of their processes. Coaching can also help executives identify areas for improvement and develop a plan to address those areas.
  2. Affect Soothing: Executives often hold a lot of complex challenges and the hopes and frustrations of others on their shoulders. They sometimes don’t have a ‘release valve’ where they can safely unload their worries, such that their concerns doesn't impact their team’s sentiments, or those of the public markets and media. A coach can be this safe space, essentially soothing the nervous system of the executive so they can talk aloud about their challenges and solve them, both logically and for their emotional wellbeing.

Who Needs Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching can benefit executives at all levels of an organisations leadership team. Whether an executive is new to their role or is an experienced leader looking to develop their skills further, executive coaching can help. In particular, all members of a C-suite can benefit from ongoing coaching, such that their performance and decision clarity can be sustainably supported. Other senior leaders may benefit from executive coaching in response to strategic challenges, feedback from the market and team, or for their personal wellness.

Is Executive Coaching Effective?

male executive coach presenting graphs and charts

Executive coaching can be highly effective for individuals looking to enhance their leadership skills and achieve their professional goals, particularly by comparison to training and education, or mentoring. In fact, coaching has been demonstrated to lead to various positive outcomes, including increased performance and sustainable executive wellness.

However, the effectiveness of executive coaching depends on several factors, including the ‘complexity of mind’ of both the coach and coachee, the executives level of commitment and time available for the coaching process and the suitability of the coaching approach for the individual's circumstances. For example, executive coaching should not be deployed at times of crisis or where an executive is deemed to be underperforming. It is essential to find a qualified executive coach to maximise the effectiveness of the coaching experience.

Which Type of Coach is Right for Your Business?

Whether you need a career coach or an executive coach for your employees depends on your specific business goals and needs, as well as the level and background of the coachee. Here is a short guide to help you determine which type of coach might be best for you:

When to Consider a Career Coach:

  1. When your employee has a career change coming up - promotion, rotation or transition
  2. When your company needs to ensure successful succession planning by demonstrating career plans for your staff
  3. When employees are demonstrating confusion or frustration about ‘how careers work’ and yet they’re performing in their current roles

When to Consider an Executive Coach:

  1. When an executive needs 1:1 support for wellness
  2. When an executive requires a confidante to release their private thoughts
  3. When competencies have been defined for the executive to develop in order to impact the performance of the whole business

Ultimately, the decision to work with a career coach or an executive coach depends on thespecific goals and needs of your business. It can be helpful to do some self-reflection and consider what you hope to achieve through coaching before making a decision. Additionally, it's crucial to find a coach who has experience working with individuals in your industry or field, as well as a coaching approach that aligns with your goals and values.


smiling male coach with team in background

Career coaching and executive coaching are both valuable tools for HR Partners looking to invest in their employees' professional growth and development. By working with a career coach or an executive coach, individuals can gain clarity on their career goals, build confidence in their abilities and develop their leadership skills. Whether an individual is just starting out in their career or is an experienced executive, coaching can help them achieve their professional goals.

Find Your Coach at BOLDLY

At BOLDLY, we believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to achieve their career and leadership goals. That's why we've created a platform that gives organisations access to qualified career and executive coaches who can help them succeed.

We believe in taking a personalised approach to coaching, working closely with our clients to understand their unique goals and challenges and developing a plan for success. Our team of experienced coaches has worked with organisations across a wide range of industries and sectors, and they bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise to every coaching engagement. 

So, if you are looking for trusted executive coaching services or professional career coaching services to enhance your leadership pipeline, choose none other than our qualified and vetted coaches at BOLDLY. Our platform makes it easy to find and connect with qualified coaches who can help you achieve your goals and unlock your full potential.

If you're interested in learning more about how BOLDLY can help your organisation, we invite you to explore our website and schedule a consultation with one of our listed coaches. We're passionate about helping our clients succeed, and we look forward to working with you to achieve your goals.