Coaching genres range from professional categories such as performance, business, and leadership through to arguably more personal or popular contexts such as life, sex and relationship coaching. Each one of these categories is distinct in their own right but all will have contributions from different disciplines and areas of knowledge such as management, education, social sciences, philosophy and psychology (Cox et al, 2014).
These categories may then be further sub-categorised in ways such as directive or non-directive coaching, client specific, process oriented or ultimate purpose objectivity. The classification of coaching can act as guidance and assist people in selecting the ideal methodology for their requirement. Conversely it can also serve as a hindrance to those seeking guidance by overcomplicating the external outlook of coaching practices.
The art of leadership coaching is often closely aligned to executive coaching as there are many similarities such as improved organisational strength, team performance, employee motivation and increased benefits for both the individual and organisation. As well as a process to enhance leadership, coaching may be used as a recognised style of transformational leadership (British Army, 2015).
Executive coaching is a term used which encompasses work with middle managers upwards or sometimes with those in junior roles deemed to have high potential (Stokes & Jolly, 2010). More often than not, it is the people who hold a significant responsibility for current and future performance success of the organisation. The Association for Coaching (AC) defines executive coaching as specifically focused at senior management level (online). An executive coach has the task of assisting senior level executives becoming more self- aware in order for them to lead their organisation better.
Executive coaches can find themselves employed often in times of transition, during the infancy of a new position within a company or during times of personal challenges faced by those holding senior positions (Stokes & Jolly, 2010). It is often said that life at the top of an organisation is often lonely and the farther up an individual goes, the less reliable the feedback they get can be. It is no wonder then that 30-50% of senior leaders fail or leave within the first 18 months of employment in a new role (Watkins, 2003). Van Velsor and Leslie (1995) also state that it is often a manager’s inability to change their behaviours as they become more senior that causes them to struggle in leadership roles. Executive coaching can assist in adapting to these new roles and responsibilities.
Executive coaches may sometimes be employed to assist poor performers but it is more prevalent that they are brought into aid high performing professionals. There are a number or roles and relationships that an executive coach is required to harness in order to be productive. The primary focus being upon leadership over management, encompassing topics such as behaviour change, self-image, purpose and meaning. Employment is often as an external contractor with the contractual obligations to the client as opposed to a mentoring position, which is predominantly carried out by a more senior or experienced person within the same organisation.
The specific remit of a corporate coach is to focus on supporting an employee, either as an individual, as part of a team and/or organisation to achieve improved business performance and operational effectiveness.