Leadership Development

The Changing Perception of Executive Coaching


Changing economic scenarios and growth oriented organizations have induced an evolution in Executive coaching for leadership development. If we trace the origins of coaching, it initially involved consultants who were essentially psychologists focusing on an organizations overall development and were hired in times of crisis. Coaches would counsel leaders in crisis management when leaders ceased to perform their duties to their full capacity.

Changing Perceptions

Starting with the early 90’s, the last 2 decades have seen a rapid growth in executive coaching with expansion into life coaching, leadership coaching, career coaching etc. New age organizations and most corporate executives now view coaching as an investment in making the organization successful to keep pace with the competitive world.

“Becoming CEO doesn’t mean that you suddenly have all the answers, and these top executives realize that there is room for growth for everyone. We are moving away from coaching being perceived as ‘remedial’ to where it should be: something that improves performance, similar to how elite athletes use a coach.” –

‘The higher you go, the lonelier it gets’

When executives are promoted to senior roles, they are often in search of professional consultants who they can talk to, discuss their anxiety and workplace concerns while dealing with the role and the responsibilities that come with it. Self awareness is crucial to leadership and is supported by coaches not only at the C-suite level but also at the mid to senior management level.

“Coaching has undergone a U-turn. Its makeover is so complete that what was once a potential embarrassment is now a badge worn proudly by people either in or heading for senior roles.
Gone are the times when sessions with an executive coach were left out of senior diaries. Today’s trend is for high-potential employees to be coached or mentored, rather than just those deemed to be under performing and in need of help – and despite tough economic times, it is on the rise.” – Financial Times, October 2013

Given the importance of a ‘safe space’ in coaching conversations, executives seem to find it easier to trust in the discretion of an objective external coach than internal coaches from within the company, especially higher up the ladder.

Benefits of External Perspective

Professor Adam Galinsky’s study at the Kellogg School of Management explores the required combination of power and perspective to translate into great leaders. He feels that “High-power individuals anchor too heavily on their own perspectives and demonstrate a diminished ability to correctly perceive others’ perspectives”.

Power can often diminish perspective and executive coaches facilitate an external, often grounding perspective to support leaders make the difficult decisions that come with their role.

Organizations today are looking at coaching to compliment leadership competencies. Coaching programs are moving from general management to being more expertise driven and customized. A good coaching program is a critical element to retain top talent and develop succession, and sometimes includes consultants that provide expert advice in technical areas as well.

Coaching programs give executives a better understanding of their own style of leadership and works as a conduit to self efficacy. A good coaching program is one that is structured to develop an organization’s high potential employees through a customized and high-touch approach.

Felix Global develops and conducts custom management and executive coaching programs for clients across industry sectors and professions. As a leading provider of leadership and executive coaching programs, we can help your organization achieve exceptional results.

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