Executive coaching is a structured process in which highly skilled, business-savvy executive coaches work one-on-one with top executives to understand their current business realities, assess their strengths and weaknesses, identify ways to improve specific business and leadership abilities, and deliver better business results.

But what really makes it so powerful is that coaches focus exclusively on skills and behaviours that have a direct impact on the organisation’s ability to achieve mission-critical objectives.

Executive coaching is typically seen as an ongoing relationship with no set time frame or definitive end point. For example, the leader may have poor communication skills and is unintentionally undermining direct reports, which can lead to a loss of morale and retention issues.

In corrective situations, the executive coach begins by completing a full diagnosis of the situation, through the identification of undesirable behaviours, such as berating or blaming others.

He will then demonstrate the consequences these behaviours will have on the individual and the organisation. The coach then helps the executive to identify practical ways to strengthen his leadership impact, provides direct and objective feedback, and ensures the executive gets back on track and stays on track.

Whether the relationship starts with a derailment situation or as part of a corporate-wide initiative, executive coaching covers a wide range of situations with one common goal: the personal development of a leader through the support of a professional relationship.

Adopt the right solution to different business challenges

Executive coaching is the right solution when an organisation faces any of four distinct business challenges:

• Individual coaching provides a safety net for executives who are in critical assignments with intense time, budget and performance expectations. It can also enhance the leadership skills and strategic business knowledge of executives in divisions that are behind plan or at risk of failing to meet critical targets.

Finally, individual coaching can address issues of emotional intelligence and interpersonal behaviour that can disrupt working relationships and compromise business outcomes.

By pinpointing and addressing obstacles to these executives’ effectiveness, organisations are able to retain the experience and expertise of leaders whose relationships with internal and external constituencies are critical to their success.


• High-potential coaching enables forward-thinking organisations to prepare their future leaders. By grooming top performers for increased responsibilities and more demanding roles, companies can maintain momentum and focus — even when faced with high-level leadership changes.

Not only do these organisations benefit from having a reserve of talent ready to fill executive positions, they also increase their ability to retain their “best and brightest” by providing these executives with continuous challenges and enabling them to reach their full potential.


• Onboarding coaching helps newly promoted or hired executives to be successful right from the start. Executives who work with an executive coach quickly understand and exercise the precise leadership capabilities needed to address current business challenges and take advantage of opportunities.

Onboarding coaching is especially helpful in situations where an executive needs to institute change in an unreceptive or entrenched environment. By helping newly promoted or hired executives to make immediate, significant and lasting contributions, the organisation achieves its business goals while protecting its recruiting investments.


• Team coaching is tailored to each team’s unique mission and challenges. It enables team members to establish a common mission and language, agree on how to frame and address problems and decisions, and work through conflict to achieve goals.

Whether a board of directors, a short-term task force, an on-going cross-functional team, an established team that needs to integrate new members, or a team formed as a result of a merger or acquisition, every team can benefit from executive coaching for improved productivity, accelerated progress and high levels of morale and loyalty.


Bring out the best

Whether an executive is moving into a new position or looking to get back on the road to success, executive coaching can work to bring out the best in leaders through the support of a professional relationship.

Both relationships are built on a foundation of trust and confidentiality. The ability of coaches to provide leaders with an outside resource that can also act as a sounding board helps them become the successful leaders they were meant to be.


Article by Professor Sattar Bawany, chief executive officer of the Centre for Executive Education (CEE) and strategic adviser to the International Professional Managers Association. CEE offers executive coaching and leadership development programmes that help professionals develop the skills and knowledge to embrace change and catalyse success in their industries. Website: www.ipma.com.sg/cee.php or e-mail cee.singapore@ipma.com.sg