HomearticleBusiness coaching vs executive coaching: What’s the difference and which do you need?

Business coaching vs executive coaching: What’s the difference and which do you need?





At IECL we teach people to become executive coaches. Over the last few years we”ve taken to calling it organisational coaching to avoid the “but I”m not an executive, can you still coach me?” question. Organisational (a.k.a. executive) coaching means that the organisation pays for the coaching, and (usually) there is a sponsor involved so it’s a three way relationship between the coach, their coaching counterpart and the sponsor.

So who’s the client?

This three way relationship can make org coaching a little more complex than straight up “life” or “business coaching” as often the sponsor, representing the organisation, has their own reason for employing the coach (ideally it’s to enhance an individual’s performance but it can sometimes be seen as a way to “fix” someone). In most cases, executive coaching is an investment by the organisation in a high potential talent to help the individual or team achieve the business outcomes required.

What about Business Coaching?

Traditionally, a business coach is someone who works with you on the nitty-gritty of your business. They look at your business plan, your budget, and your strategy, and they help you make a forward plan for the business, which is all good. And it’s a bit like talking to a consultant. The business coach needs to have subject matter expertise (budgeting, planning, strategy for example) and will tend to give their client some advice as a way of adding value.

Isn’t that what a coach does?

An executive coach, on the other hand, doesn’t give advice, suggest strategies, or need to have subject matter expertise. A good executive coach adds value by asking challenging questions to get you thinking differently, helps you decide what options to pursue, and holds you accountable to perform the actions you have decided are right for you. There’s no advice giving, and no subject matter expertise. They help you reduce the interference that gets in the way of achieving your full potential by asking powerful questions.

Just make sure that the coach you hire is a very, very good coach.


executive coaching