Executive Business Coaching, Explained

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Hiring an executive business coach is a great tool that too few leaders take advantage of.

For those on the fence about investing in executive business coaching, we’ve broken it down: what it is, why you need it, and how to choose a coach.

  • Did you get a promotion recently?
  • Start your own business and hire your first employee?
  • Are you tasked with guiding a company or department and feel like your leadership is constantly tested?
  • Do your big dreams feel out of reach lately?
  • Are you stretched thin, stressed, or struggling with being the best that you can be in the workplace?

OK, so you are a unicorn, and your professional journey is totally perfect. But did you know that many of the most successful CEOs recommend coaching for all executives?

That’s right–Steve Jobs worked with multiple coaches over the course of his career. Eric Schmidt’s best advice to any new CEO is to hire a coach. Bill Gates happens to concur.

With recommendations like that, what are you waiting for?

Whether you are an eager entrepreneur or an experienced CEO, executive business coaching will be an incredible asset to your professional career. It will unlock your potential, increase your impact, and help you achieve more than you ever dreamed.

What is executive business coaching?

I admit it. There are a lot of different coaches out there, many of them competing for the same clients. Getting beyond the fancy words and understanding the real meat and potatoes of what coaches do can be difficult. Unfortunately, executive business coaching is no exception– but we’re here to clear some things up!

Here’s a short, one-sentence explanation. Executive business coaching helps business leaders optimize their impact in the workplace with strategic, tailored guidance in both the personal and professional spheres with long term results.

One common source of confusion is the distinction between a coach and a consultant. In short: a consultant will solve problems for your business. A coach will give you the tools to be a better leader and executive, equipping you to solve problems effectively.

Similarly, while you might confide some of the same things to a coach that you would to a therapist, a coach will focus on empowering you to unleash your potential, rather than giving advice.

How do executive coaches distinguish themselves from plain old business coaches? By focusing on the personal development of an executive in addition to the direction in which they are taking the business. (Of course, many business coaches might also offer more personal mentorship if their client wants it, regardless of their executive specialty!)

When the person in charge gains a new personal, professional, and mental toolkit for success, everyone in the office benefits. As will your business’s bottom line.

What do you gain from executive business coaching?

Now that we’ve established the role of an executive business coach, how does this help you? You’re not Bill Gates (if you are, thank you for reading our blog, we hope you like it!) You don’t necessarily have the networks and funds available to work with a famous coach who churns out multi-millionaire CEOs by the dozen.

However, I encourage you to think about the stressful situations you have doubtless faced in your executive work. Was there one person you could rely on to provide an unbiased perspective to guide you through those difficult moments?

One whose advice you could rely on to help you make the best decision possible for you and your team? Did you feel supported, encouraged, and listened to throughout your professional journey? Do you have a clear idea of where you want to be ten years down the line, and how to achieve that?

A coach will address all of these and more. Ok, so your business prospects aren’t anything close to failure, but why risk falling behind? A good executive business coach will unlock your potential early on and set you light years ahead of the competition.

Statistics show that the vast majority of executives who work with a coach will benefit from the experience. Shockingly, the same stats reveal that very few executives take advantage of this opportunity.

To help you out, we’ve summarized a few of the most obvious benefits below so you can feel confident about your choice to seek executive business coaching.

These are all assets that you might occasionally find in a supervisor or mentor, but that you can trust a coach to provide.


Being an executive is tough! You’re caught up in the day-to-day, overwhelmed by demands on your time, and trying to zoom out and look for the long-term success of your business. A coach is a third party who can look at the big picture from a new perspective. Let your coach lift you from the swamp of minutiae that burden your mind, and help you evaluate things with fresh eyes. Decisions will become easier as you recognize strategies or necessary changes you failed to see before!


If you’d feel embarrassed saying it in front of your boss, say it to your coach! Whether brainstorming, addressing concerns in the workplace, or working through your struggles with coworkers and employees, your executive business coach will keep your sessions confidential. This will you both to be more honest and open–no more wasting time beating around the bush!


By helping you capitalize on your strengths and develop new skill sets, a coach will give you the tools to tackle projects that may have dragged on otherwise. This might involve moderating your inclination to constantly hustle. As a result, you will spend fewer late nights at the office and have more time to focus on you and your goals.


Remember, executive business coaching is about the executive (you!) not just the business. As your coach unlocks the great future you have in store, you will be more satisfied and even joyful at your executive role. The impact on your business and those around you will be immeasurably positive!


A good coach, unlike many well-intentioned coworkers or supervisors, has your personal welfare in mind above all. Your coach will not default to the plan that best benefits the business, but the plan that best benefits you. If you haven’t had time to focus on dream-building and goal-setting, your coach will integrate that into your routine. Think about the legacy you want to leave–your coach can help make that reality.

How do you find an executive business coach?

Some executives are lucky enough to work for a corporation that hires an executive coach for you. If you have any input in the process (and you should), read on for insight into helping them give you the greatest coaching experience possible. If you’re not in that position, or the in-house coach does not speak to your needs at this time, consider this your guide to hiring a coach on your own.

Spoiler: it’s not easy! Everyone and their mother is becoming a coach these days–and with virtual appointments the norm, it’s easier than ever.

How do you find that needle in the haystack – a coach who will offer you personalized executive business coaching that will help form you into a better leader, decision-maker, and strategic thinker?

There are three absolutely necessary standards to look for during your search for a coach. These will assure you make the best decision for you and the employees you supervise.


Look for a coach who has completed or is in the process of completing a certification program accredited by the ICF. Unless you have a very limited budget, the extra education and credibility provided by a coaching certification is worth the extra money. Certification programs usually have a directory or request form you can fill out that connects you with coaches that fit your needs.

Here are our favorites:

  • The Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership
  • The College of Executive Coaching
  • John Mattone’s Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching Certification (John Mattone coached Steve Jobs!)
  • The Academies Certified Executive & Leadership Development Coach Program (CELDC) (this program is introductory, so if you have a limited budget for a coach, an early-career coach from their network may do the trick!)


There are two kinds of industry experience you might want in an executive business coach. The most obvious: experience in your industry.

What does that look like?

  • A coach who spent years in an executive position similar to you.
  • A coach who started out in a different spot but achieved the same goals you have on your 10-year plan.
  • Someone who has been coaching for years, but all their most successful clients are in your industry.

An executive business coach that fits one or more of these descriptions will likely empathize with your situation and understand the unique challenges you face from a business perspective.

On the other hand, you might want to look for psychology experience and education. Coaching is a popular career choice for trained psychologists, which is great for you! Bad coaches who fail to recognize the roots of behavioral patterns only cause havoc for executives.

What about testimonials?

A well-established coach will have easily accessible testimonials from previous clients on their website or marketing materials. These are an invaluable source for figuring out if a coach will be a good fit. Put on the sleuth gloves and do some LinkedIn digging for endorsements and recommendations.

Look up the names on their website testimonials to make sure they’re real people–ideally successful people. The best-case scenario? Find a coach who coached someone you know (and respect). If you can see how executive business coaching made them a better leader, achiever, and decision-maker, hire that coach!

With those three standards you are well on your way to finding a great coach. I’ll live you with one final piece of advice as you start the search.

A coach who pushes a specific coaching methodology or framework for success might not be a good fit if that framework doesn’t have flexibility for your specific situation. Tread carefully if your coach only works with one particular method, especially if it doesn’t have an established reputation!

We can’t let you go without talking about the cost.

If your company is not providing your coach, executive business coaching might threaten to take a huge chunk out of your paycheck.

By now you know it’s worth it, but what if you end up with the wrong coach? Most good coaches will offer free introductory sessions to get to know potential clients. Once you have narrowed down your list, take advantage of those sessions to discern if this coach is really the right fit for you.

If there are any red flags–they dismiss your concerns, they try to force you into a box you don’t fit, or you just don’t click– move on.

Some coaches might offer a package price if you commit to a long-term client relationship, which could bring the weekly or monthly cost down! Only commit once you are sure this is the coach you need.

If you’re still on the fence (or if you skipped to the end) here is a summary of the most common FAQs about executive business coaching:

What is executive business coaching?

Executive business coaching helps business leaders optimize their impact in the workplace with strategic, tailored guidance in both the personal and professional spheres with long term results.

What is the difference between business coaching and executive coaching?

Executive coaches focus on the personal development of an executive in addition to strategies to optimize the direction they are taking the business.

How much does executive coaching cost?

Even an early-career executive coach will cost at least $150.00 per hour. If they don’t already, consider asking your boss or board to consider hiring executive coaches for the benefit of the entire company!

How do you become an executive business coach?

To become an executive business coach, do your research to make sure it’s the right field for you, create a coaching business plan, and seek a reputable coaching certification program.

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