Executive coaching is increasing in popularity as more senior people and organisations realise the benefits it can deliver. However, like any single diet program, it’s not the right fit for everyone. In this article, Melinda Fell, of Melinda Fell Consulting, a boutique C-Level executive coaching and placement firm, explains why. Please note that these are necessarily very general observations – if you have specific questions, Melinda will be happy to answer them.

The first thing to understand is that executive coaching is not just about the executive. It generally involves coaching an individual to better perform their role within their organisation – and typically this process involves buy in from their stakeholders – upstream and downstream. Stakeholder feedback is often a critical part of assessing the progress of a coaching program.

Question One: Is your organisation ready to commit to a team approach to coaching?
Executive coaching is not a quick fix – it’s not an organisational aspirin that can disappear problems in 20 minutes. It’s a process that typically takes around 18 months to generate and consolidate enduring results.

Question Two: Are you ready to commit to a 12-18 month process?
This may seem obvious, but are you and your organisation willing to accept change? Doing things better can mean doing them differently, and while that’s an easy thing to say yes to in theory, in practice the results can be different.

Question Three: Are you and your organisation willing to change?
Executive coaching is informed behavioural modification designed to increase the leadership skills, productivity and happiness of an individual. It is not a substitute for therapy, the answer to immoral or illegal actions or a corporate ‘get out of jail free’ card.

Question Four: Do you understand the role of executive coaching?
Are you prepared to be realistic and honest? Executive coaching is a process informed by evidence and feedback from the individual and their stakeholders. Sometimes the assessments and judgements will be comfortable, at other times they may be less welcome. It is a not a ‘religion’ or a belief system which on its own creates positive outcomes for participants.

Question Five: Are you prepared to be honest and accept honest feedback?
If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to all the questions above, you’ve probably read about executive coaching and understand the personal and corporate benefits it can deliver. If you have one or more ‘No’, answers you could still benefit from a coaching program – but be realistic!