A guide to one-to-one coaching for executives and leaders

Executive one-to-one coaching is one of several ways for individuals to enhance their ‘performance’; performance of the individual at work – and personally – and performance of the business they contribute to.

This guide is designed to provide a clearer picture of what one-to-one coaching is about, so leaders can decide on whether it’s right for them and their performance agenda.

What is one-to-one coaching?

One-to-one coaching is an effective way to help business leaders and other key individuals in an organisation reach peak performance. It’s part of our portfolio of coaching services suited to executives and senior leaders in an organisation.

At its heart, it’s about two people working together to reach an agreed performance outcome.

To facilitate this the coach aims to acquire a deep understanding of what is required from the coaching interaction. Of course there is the nitty gritty around schedules, pricing and logistics, but the coach and coachee will agree what is to be provided and where responsibilities lay. The pair will seek to agree the methods used and the outcomes required.

The result is a relationship. Trust and rapport. This is vital for the two people to achieve the desired outcomes, but let’s not forget there is likely to be hard work, challenge and tough decisions along the way – for both parties.

The features of the one-to-one coaching relationship include:

  • A highly confidential exchange of dialogue.
  • A supportive environment to deal with issues.
  • A focus on professional development needs.
  • A focus on interpersonal development needs.

Coaching led by the organisation

One-to-one executive coaching is a popular choice for organisations that have a strong coaching culture in place. They will understand the benefits of coaching, especially in an unstable business climate where pandemics etc are changing how teams work and forcing big decisions in the boardroom around change and organisational transformation.

Some modern organisations will see how using coaching is key to reinventing themselves in this time of change, and will be implementing changes that have a coaching culture at its heart. While they will be taking tentative steps towards a coaching provision, they will need to see evidence of how coaching can facilitate resilient adaptable and sustainable ways of working.

Coaching provides organisations with a structured and proven means of supporting executives and their emerging leaders. And this means cascading best practice throughout the management population – and we often work with organisations to help their executives and leaders adopt a coaching style to support their line management role.

It is hard to argue that having self-confident, focused, high-performing executives is not good for business. If they are able to work smarter, build better teams and inspire performance, then there will be positive impacts on all of the organisation’s performance objectives.

Coaching led by the organisation
Coaching led by the individual

Coaching led by the individual

Around 30% of the executives we coach approach us directly. These individuals are naturally open to coaching and understand what they want to achieve from it.

Typically, they come to us with goals such as:

  • Building a plan for personal growth.
  • Supporting them to transition to a new role
  • Developing greater self-awareness.
  • Building more effective personal skills
  • Creating the mental space to work on key issues.
  • Defining personal values and strengths.
  • Forming transformational shifts in leadership style and behaviour.
  • Reconnecting with passions, goals and drivers.

Benefits of one-to-one coaching

Does coaching work?

Of course it does but don’t take our word for it.

The International Coach Federation found that 80% of coachees reported an increased self-confidence, and more than 70% benefited from improved work performance, better relationships, and more effective communication skills (read full report).

At Coaching Focus we have provided one-to-one coaching for literally thousands of executives. These executives tell us that the benefits they gained form coaching were:.

  1. Coaching has empowered and focused my personal and professional development.
  2. Coaching gave me access to a safe independent advisor and sounding board.
  3. Coaching identified areas for improvement and helped me develop these.
  4. Coaching gave me the road map and tools to achieve ongoing success.
  5. Coaching helped me address the issues that are driven by the current needs of my organisation.
  6. Coaching was a more effective use of my time than other alternative options.

What does any coachee want to achieve from coaching?

Coaching is personal. While the end goal may be around business performance and contributing to organisational objectives, coaching is a very human one-to-one relationship.

Different individuals have differing goals, and similarly their organisations will also have their own expected (or anticipated) outcomes. The agreement between the coach and coachee around what they want to achieve will be crucial – because the wish list can be huge, for example:

  • Improving decision making
  • Developing a leadership style
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving interpersonal skills
  • Improving communication with different groups
  • Increasing self-confidence
  • Achieving win-win situations
  • Applying fresh perspectives to problem solving
  • Finding creative solutions to problems
  • Acknowledging achievements by others
  • Planning before doing
  • Balancing your work and home life
  • Creating and managing time
  • Building better teams
  • Networking more effectively
  • Improving goal setting
  • Changing company culture
  • Increasing sales.

These topics are not mutually exclusive, of course. We don’t make a curry from one ingredient; we combine ingredients to achieve the taste, texture and hotness that suits us. It’s the same with coaching. We pick up various ingredients on the way to final dish, and crucially we have to taste it as we go along. Then we can add a little spice, a little salt and so on.

Tasting in this context means assessing at key points how the coaching is going to ensure it meeting expectations. We will always check that the coaching is achieving its desired outcomes, and ascertain how it can be enhanced if progress is not as expected. This means addressing issues and barriers that are encountered and areas that may be holding the coachee back from achieving their performance goals...

Is one-to-one coaching for you?

There is no doubt that coaching works but from our experience individuals will sometimes find reasons not to engage with it.

No time? Executives and leaders are busy. Most say they have no time for coaching.

But 1 to 1 coaching sessions from Coaching Focus are short and impactful. They’re designed to fit around personal and work commitments, and time is rarely an excuse for saying ‘no’.

No enthusiasm? Coaching is not always right for an individual. Being coached requires an open mind, and commitment. It needs honesty and application. It requires a desire to change, to improve, and to make a difference.

A coachee that lacks impetus will be unlikely to embrace the opportunity or fully realise the benefits of coaching.

No need? Many leaders do not see where they can improve. This is not arrogance but may point at issues around feedback or dialogue that have not helped an individual see where they can improve. Often, for such individuals, it is the organisation that has requested the coaching because they can see where improvements can be made.

But coaching is not necessarily remedial. You do not have to be ill to get better! 1 to 1 coaching can help people move forward with purpose and clarity and achieve goals above those that they anticipated were achievable.

Coaching can also be used as a substitute for the type of advice and sounding boards you may find in the boardroom. Compromise in confidentiality, conflicts of interest, risk of hurt feelings, lack of trust… These are never issues in a coaching relationship, but are always present when an individual has a discussion in or out of work with a colleague or friend.

What next?

If you are an HRD or L&D professional looking for one-to-one coaching for your leaders, or if you’re an executive and wish to discuss how it could work for you, then give us a call. We work across the UK and overseas, so geography is no barrier.

Coaching is personal, and we like to talk to you about your specific individual or organisational needs.

Use the contact form below, or give us a call on 01884 266005.

Enquire about one-to-one Coaching