Nov 30, 2022

Business coaching vs executive coaching

Over 70% of people increase their work performance, improve their relationships and drive more effective communication skills after coaching, according to the Institute of Coaching. It’s also well known that coaching helps people holistically across all aspects of their lives. So how do you decide who to give a coach to at your company? Just the executives or to support new leadership. An understanding of the difference between business coaching vs executive coaching can help.

Build your leaders of today and tomorrow

A professional coach usually specializes in one of the many different types of coaching approaches. These range from career coaches and personal life coaches to executive coaches and business or skills coaches. I sought a career coach when I was looking for my next role. They helped with interview preparation and resume writing. As a leader, I want to improve personally and professionally so I work with a leadership coach. Many C-Level executives work with an executive coach to fine-tune their leadership style to adapt to business challenges. 

In terms of business coaching vs executive coaching, the latter type of coaching focuses on personal development, usually with the C-suite. Essentially, leaders gain awareness of their strengths and blind spots with executive coaches. As part of that work, they pinpoint their values and work on their personal objectives in light of business goals. 

A business or skills coach will also do this but they too look forward strategically and encourage their coachees to reflect on how they inspire their followers. Business coaches further energize their coachees to consider how they develop their teams and drive for performance. Coaches enable this process by leveraging their coachees’ innate skills. 

Leaders aren’t the only ones who benefit from business coaching. High-potential employees or those showing leadership signs are also great target groups. Generally, they’re keen to learn and ready to try new ways of thinking. That’s not to say that someone who doesn’t want to be coached can’t be coached but it does help if they have the desire. 

Whether choosing business coaching vs executive coaching, your coach will first spend time building trust and psychological safety. 

Executive coaches focus on the following: 

  • Emotional Intelligence: Psychologist and organizational guru, Daniel Goleman, states emotional intelligence is directly correlated with great leadership. This HBS article on emotional intelligence further quotes that we could all improve our self-awareness as part of this work.
  • Strengths-building: The aim is for leaders to optimize their personal brand by building on strengths. They still need to manage their weaknesses but only their strengths will allow them to stand out as unique leaders.

Propel your business forwards 

All great coaches are empathetic and inspire self-reflection. While they can also act as a sounding board, generally, they only guide and never give their answers. Even with business coaching, you’ll be prompted to analyze your own approach to business planning and execution. From there, you’ll develop your solutions to increase your business impact. 

Most business coaches have previous business experience. Their goal is to enable you to refine your skills for greater business impact. Your coach’s experience simply allows them to guide you better while aligning your goals to business objectives. Essentially, you create your future and enable sustained growth within the context of the organization. 

In terms of business coaching vs executive coaching, business coaches help you find ways for you to grow your business or allow you to change its course. Executive coaches guide the C-suite to focus on their individual behaviors.

What impact to expect from a business coach: 

  • Upskill leadership: Through tailored 1 on 1 sessions, coachees explore leadership techniques that they can practice on the job and later reflect with their coaches. Through the trust and rapport built up, coachees have the confidence to change their behaviors for greater performance.
  • Skills-based coaching: Coaches hold up a mirror to blind spots but at the same time, they focus on skills. With a skills catalog to refer to, coachees define the traits they want to fine-tune to grow as leaders and generate greater impact. 
  • Improved team communication: Whether choosing business coaching vs executive coaching, you will most likely work on some form of communication. After all, relationships are the foundation of all business success. Moreover, you might find yourself working with a language coach to further explore how the words you use impact both your behaviors and that of those around you. 

Choose coaching, choose success

Business and executive coaching are highly effective in steering people to find the answers to their own problems. Business coaches do that within the context of strategy and process effectiveness whereas executive coaches focus more on the individual and their personal development. Although, there is an overlap between the two depending on context. 

When reviewing your options for business coaching vs executive coaching, simply ask yourself if you want guidance for yourself as a leader or if you need a thought partner for improving your impact on the business. Sometimes, you might need both. Either way, success doesn’t happen on its own. Everyone needs a coach and a guide to get them there. That’s how you liberate your habits and drive new ways of thinking to beat your competitors. 


Coaching, Communication, Company Culture, L&D, Leadership, People, Skills-Based Coaching

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