Leadership Development

Perspectives on Executive Coaching: Felix Coach Brian Twohey


At its heart, coaching is a way to facilitate the development of self-awareness.

Increasingly we have seen coaches partner with the executive, and many times with the company. This facilitates an environment of self-discovery that result in improvements in the overall organization’s business (and the personal life of the executive).

In the past you would have read our insights on coaching and the changing nature of executive coaching. In this post, we share the viewpoint and experiences of a seasoned Felix Executive Coach Brian Twohey. Every coach at Felix is unique and brings their own blend of background, experiences and authenticity to their coaching practice in a client centric manner, all the while incorporating the Co-active coaching model. Brian brings a keen flair for understanding the inner workings of business and the underlying psychology of people to his approach. We hope you enjoy learning about the creative edge Brian brings in meeting the needs of his executive clients.

“The essence of executive coaching is helping leaders get unstuck from their dilemmas and assisting them to transfer their learning into results for the organization.”: Mary Beth O’Neill in Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart”

‘As a coach, my role is that of a trusted confidant. I help clients in the process of self-discovery and self-awareness by posing tough questions. Coaches should help clients build a strong back-bone and self-esteem to understand their own unique strengths and work towards identified goals.

I share a close relationship with my clients and feel it is my duty to make them feel secure in a manner that they can be vulnerable and authentic in their strengths and their perceived growth opportunities. My role is that of a trusted advisor who helps nurture and bring out the best in my client. Executive clients let their coach enter a territory that could be scary to them, and when trust is built, they are comfortable sharing their fears, business and management issues.

While counselors and psychologists deal with the past as it relates to the future, in my own experience, coaching involves a process of dealing with the present and the future. Coaches pose powerful questions to their clients often challenging them to think outside their comfort zone. My job as a coach therefore is to ask the right questions that lead the way. A good coach is an exceptional   listener.

‘Executive coaching requires not just listening to what my client is saying, but what he/ she leaves unsaid. I work with them to challenge their assumptions and mirror their own positive self beliefs. Sometimes it is important to take into stock, not just how close to the goal we are but also, to think about how far we have come.


Great coaches will let you know that they can offer you useful new skills, awareness and knowledge, and help you integrate what you’ve learned into your day-to-day life.  They will be able to describe very specifically how they have worked with others to improve their leadership, management, and or business operating capabilities.’

An HBR research study carried a survey of 140 leading coaches and presented some interesting findings. The study said that about 15 years ago,companies engaged a coach to help fix toxic behavior at the top. Today, most coaching is about developing the capabilities of high-potential performers.

The top 3 reasons that organizations engaged with coaches

1) Develop high potentials or facilitate transition
2) Act as a sounding board
3) Address derailing behavior

There is always an element of moral and personal accountability between the organization, executive and the coach. Though the process of coaching does not involve the executive’s personal life, more often than not, the executive shares personal information with the coach.

Process & Need for Coaching

‘In large organizations today, many leaders are looking for a confidential sounding board. However leaders find themselves often unable to share their thoughts with many people due to the responsibility and conflicts associated with their roles. Higher the role, fewer are the people such executives can confide in.

Leaders prefer working with external coaches. Confidentiality and trust concerns typically follow the proposition of opening up to a coach or HR person on company payrolls. Our customers and partners have repeatedly shared with us how the investment into building internal coaching practices in some of the largest companies in North America still yield to external coach requests from their executives.

‘Since finding good a coach is often like finding gold, when leaders find them, they stick with them. Before they know it, multiple levels under the leader are working with the same coach. I’d caution clients from hiring individual coaches in such a scenario and suggest working with a coaching company that may be able to provide options, and more importantly professionalism, through policies to ensure there are no breaches between levels.

Leading organizations today realize the need for coaching and see it as a developmental right, than a remedial course corrector alone. Leaders and executives are usually individuals with a high intelligence quotient, with a stellar performance record. They know how to get work done, but they now need support working through complex and often conflicting issues, in matrixed structures. They are people leaders as well and coaches help them keep the different aspects of getting work done in balance. Ultimately, leaders need to focus on developing themselves for more senior executive roles and responsibilities, grooming themselves for succession. This is the largest role executive coaching can play.’

We hope you enjoyed this guest post by Felix Executive Coach Brian Twohey. For more insightful articles and shares, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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