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What is an Executive Career Coach?

 Last Modified On: February 18, 2024, Author: Amy Sanchez

Beep, beep, beep- as Sasha’s alarm goes off, she slowly opens her eyes and lets out a loud sigh. Just like hundreds of days before this, it’s time to get up, complete the morning routine, and head into work. Years ago, when she accepted her VP role at Somerville, she woke up most mornings with a fire in her belly and ready to tackle the day ahead.  But as the days passed, something changed.  That flame seemed to have slowly extinguished and she now finds herself more and more disengaged from the work she’s doing.  She can’t quite put her finger on what’s different but the idea of change looks more appealing every day.

These feelings of disengagement and “wanting more” out of your career are cues that a career coach or an executive career coach can help. Have you ever wondered what is an executive career coach?

What exactly does an Executive Career Coach do?    

In short, they help high achieving professionals identify their next career move by partnering with them to engage in a process of introspection. Throughout this process, the career coach will ask a number of thought-provoking questions and assign exercises all designed to peel away the onion and identify the core values, skills of a leader present in you, and career dreams that exist deep within. This process unearths the vision for the next career step.

This vision is then balanced with market need (to ensure the fruits of your labor are juicy) and finally, the roadmap to attainment is built.  Voila- the fire is back!

Executive career coaching can morph into a number of different forms through the process because, you’re human and things that happen in one portion of our lives can and do impact others.  Sometimes it’s important for the career coach to pivot to a life coach or a leadership coach.  As a whole, it’s important to address all grievances holistically so the career transformation is an effective one, all around.

In essence, executive career coaching is a collaborative process that helps accomplished professionals discover their next career path by guiding them through introspection and self-discovery. The career coach acts as a partner, posing thought-provoking questions and providing exercises that enable individuals to delve deep into their core values, skills, and aspirations. By peeling away the layers, the coach helps the individual unearth their true career dreams and aspirations, forming the foundation for the next step in their professional journey.

This vision is not developed in isolation but is balanced with the demands and trends of the job market. The career coach ensures that the individual's aspirations align with market needs, guaranteeing that the fruits of their labor will be rewarding and relevant. Once the vision is clear, the coach assists in constructing a roadmap that outlines the necessary steps and actions to achieve the desired career transformation. With a plan in place, the individual is reinvigorated and motivated to pursue their goals, reigniting their passion and drive.

Throughout the coaching process, the nature of the sessions may evolve and take on different forms. As humans, our personal and professional lives are intertwined, and events in one sphere can impact the other. In some cases, it becomes important for the career coach to address topics beyond career development and pivot towards life coaching or leadership coaching. By addressing all aspects holistically, the career transformation becomes more effective and meaningful, encompassing various dimensions of personal growth and fulfillment.

By engaging in executive career coaching, professionals can gain valuable insights about themselves, align their aspirations with market needs, and develop a comprehensive plan to achieve their goals. The holistic approach taken by the career coach ensures that individuals not only experience a transformative career change but also attain personal growth and fulfillment in all areas of their lives. I hope now you have better clarity over the question, "What is an executive career coach and what does he/she do?"

Why do People Need Career Coaches/Life Coaches?

All around us, there is an underlying message that, to be happy, we must have the perfect job, the perfect spouse, the perfect children, the perfect manicured lawn, the best body, etc. And so, we strive for these knowing first, we need to make a buck.  As a result, we work, and work, and work.  But this endless toll leaves many people wondering, “what else is out there?” There is a constant conflict in our world between focusing on earning mass amounts of money or enjoying the things that money can’t buy.  The Beatles captured this conflict when they released, “Money (that’s what I want)” and followed it up with “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

But many of the greatest philosophers of our time have argued that money isn’t the answer.  Aristotle claimed that the greatest human good is to live a good life.  In a good society, all of its members flourish.  Happiness is accomplished by living well and doing well over time. The modern workplace is in direct contradiction to this approach, as those who tend to fare well work long hours and go to great strides to make their boss happy, regardless of the approach.  This creates a workplace focused on driving results first and foremost.  Everything else takes a backseat.

Harvard Business Review conducted a survey in 2013 that found that executives, managers and professionals worked about 72 hours a week on average.  Assuming people sleep about 7.5 hours at night on average, that leaves only three hours a day Monday-Friday to do everything else (exercise, shop, family time, shower, relax, eat, etc.).  That means people spend about 60% of their waking hours working.

Spending 60% of your waking hours on something that’s fulfilling and enjoyable is one thing.  But a Gallup poll released in 2017 reported that 85% of people in the world admitted to hating their jobs.  And in 2013, Forbes magazine reported that “work is more often a source of frustration than fulfillment for nearly 90% of the world’s workers.“

After reading these statistics, is it any wonder that the number of people who seek an executive career coach, a career coach, a leadership coach, or a life coach is growing exponentially every year?

Does Executive Coaching Work?

A 2001 study on the impact of executive coaching by Manchester Inc. showed an average ROI of 5.7 times the initial investment or a return of more than $100,000, according to executives who estimated the monetary value of the results achieved through coaching.

My clients have seen remarkable results from the start of their journey to the end, which included:

·      Identifying and achieving new, exciting career goals

·      Shedding their destructive internal narrative

·      Losing 10+ pounds

·      Applying for adoption after years of trying to conceive naturally

·      Resolving a long-standing conflict with their significant other

·      Finding they were much happier with their current situation than they originally thought

Name People that I May Know who have Worked with a Coach

Most successful people have worked with a coach at some point in their career.  Here’s a short list:

Oprah, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Bill Gates, Marc Benioff, Metallica, Bill Clinton, Serena Williams

How Do I Pick A Career Coach?

Most coaches will offer a complimentary discovery session.  When you speak to a coach you’re interested in, be sure to ask:

1.    Are you accredited?

2.    How much experience do you have?

3.    Can you relate to what I’m going through (have you experienced what I’m experiencing?)

After the call, assess how comfortable you would feel getting very candid with this person. You must feel safe to share and understood for the coach-client relationship to thrive.

Finally, you must ask yourself a few questions:

1.    Am I ready for change?

2.    Am I open to learning new things about myself?

3.    Will I commit to making the time and space to create the change I crave?

The most dramatic and effective transformations happen when it’s the right match and the client and the coach are dedicated to helping create the right change. when you find the right one, you won't need to ask again what is an executive career coach and how can it help me.

What Happens After We Speak?

I’ve spoken to hundreds of people about their disappointment or disengagement in their career.  I find that, after this conversation, people walk through one of three doors:

1.    Just having the conversation and hearing the need for change out loud causes them to start looking and they eventually find something on their own.

2.    People get swept back up in the day-to-day and put the search on hold.  They reemerge 6-12 months later and are typically even more miserable and beginning to crack.

3.    People decide to hire a career coach and instantly feel better knowing they have a partner to help them stay authentic to who they are and someone who keeps them accountable on their journey to change.

If, after reading this, you think executive career coaching is right for you, click here to set up a discovery session.

About The Author

Leadership Consultant and Coach Amy Sanchez

Amy Sanchez is a certified executive and career coach located in the Bay Area who specializes in helping mid- to senior-level executives achieve their full potential and build the lives they want.

She has an MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business and 13 years of corporate experience.

She is a skilled coach and neutral partner who provides clients with tangible tools and effective guidance to successfully navigate the waters of this fast-paced, hyper-connected, high-stakes job market.

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