How Executive Coaching Works - and Why You Should Hire a Therapist as Your Coach
As my practice continues to evolve from working one-on-one with high achievers as a psychotherapist, to providing executive coaching to leadership teams and their companies, it’s become so clear to me that people have some idea of what therapy is and should provide, but the expectations of executive coaching are all over the map.
This is partly because unlike psychotherapy, executive coaching is unregulated and its quality and value is so variable depending on the coach’s training and professional background. Though coaching is slowly starting to follow in therapy's footsteps when it comes to standardizing ethics and values and training, it’s still hard to evaluate a service when its practitioners are so diverse in the lenses they bring to their role.
The Major Benefits of Coaching
So I’d like to outline three major benefits which I firmly believe companies should expect from all executive coaching: self-awareness and insight, self-management, and collaboration. And since people tend to be biased towards their own lenses, I’m also outlining why therapists are especially equipped to provide this value to their corporate clients.
Why Do Companies Need an Executive Coach?
Ultimately, the job of an executive coach is to support the client in achieving the client's goals, and in companies that hire coaches the goals are usually related to improving employee engagement and retention, boosting team effectiveness and productivity, and ultimately increasing revenue. To get there, every company and individual client needs to grow in at least one and usually several of the areas outlined below.
Here are the three biggest benefits of executive coaching (especially when provided by a therapist):
Self-Awareness and Insight
Good coaching helps people see what they’re doing - this is self-awareness. Great coaching helps them understand why they’re doing it - this is insight. Without these two, it’s really hard for people to change or grow. A good executive coach is like a mirror - helping people to see what needs refinement without judging them. Therapists have deep training in building the rapport required to help people feel safe enough to do this work, and provide the reflective listening that helps people start to see themselves accurately. Therapists working as executive coaches also have deep training in identifying their own biases so they can ensure the mirror they’re holding up for clients is accurate and helpful.
A solid executive coach teaches clients the skills to fine-tune themselves internally and present themselves well externally so they can maximize their impact at the company. An executive coach with a therapy background can teach clients and companies many, many, many ways to manage stress, manage negative emotions, bounce back and learn from failure, and establish solid boundaries in regard to time and roles.
People with good self-awareness, good insight, and good self-management are more able to be empathetic, patient, team-oriented, and good communicators; all necessary qualities for productive collaboration. Good coaches teach people how to be effective with others while also being authentic - and working with the whole organization means everyone learns these skills so there’s less need for primitive strategies like politicking or manipulation, both of which are exhausting and erode trust and motivation. Executive coaches with a therapy background aren't afraid of messy team dynamics and can help coworkers negotiate their relationships and communicate their needs in healthy and effective ways.
Executive coaching is a big investment of time, energy, and resources and this is the return all companies should expect and deserve - these benefits are the major value of working with an executive coach and are needed in order to achieve nearly any business goal.
Sepideh Saremi, LCSW is a psychotherapist and executive coach who specializes in helping businesses and their teams be more engaged and successful by using evidence-based mental and emotional strategies. Contact her to find out more about how she can help your company and leadership team achieve peak performance.
A version of this post was originally shared on LinkedIn. This post is for informational purposes only - it’s not psychotherapy.