Is CEO Coaching Different From Coaching Any Other Executive?

Business Communication Course 150x150 Is CEO Coaching Different From Coaching Any Other Executive? coaching Many executive coaches I know believe that executive coaching is executive coaching. In their minds, if you can coach an executive then CEO coaching is no different. After all, they say, coaching isn’t about giving solutions or advice or consulting, so whether you are coaching a mid-level executive or coaching the CEO, it doesn’t matter.


I disagree. CEO coaching, or coaching at the C-suite level, is different from coaching other levels of managers or executives. It’s not that the C-suite faces different challenges than others; that’s a given. It’s not that they are bombarded from all sides, are answerable to a board or even that they are expected to be strategic thinkers. What makes CEO coaching different is the level of accountability they have. They are on the firing line all the time and the decisions they make have wide-spread implications across the organization. And this is magnified with the CEO. Coaching a CEO requires sophistication, finesse and skill on the part of the coach.


I’m not suggesting that only a handful of coaches have this combination. What I am saying is just because you coach managers or even 2nd-line executives does not mean you can coach at the C-suite. You don’t have to agree or take my word for it. Ask CEOs and other C-suite executives their opinion. Contact HR VPs of corporations and find out their experience. I’m betting they will concur: CEO coaching is not the same as executive coaching.

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  1. Linda
    LindaApr 27, 2010

    CEO coaching in my opinion is much different than coaching at other levels.  C-suite level staff have job performance expectations that are quite different than say a front line manager.  I think a coach for this level needs to have been there/done this as well to be able to coach effectively.  As noted above a CEO coach must have finesse, sophistication and more.  Just as not all training is developed as a one training fits all; thus coaching in my opinion is not one size fits all either.

  2. Gerhard B. Schwandt
    Gerhard B. SchwandtApr 28, 2010

    I agree with your assessment. The playing field of the CEO is quite different than that of an executive and that means the issues the CEO needs help with are also. There is a whole other level of magnitude, goals, purposes, etc. one has to take in consideration when working with the CEO

  3. Mike Harden
    Mike HardenJun 23, 2011

    I agree 100%. As a CEO coach, I find that I deal with different issues and at a different level of engagement when I am coaching a CEO vs. when I have been asked to coach a more junior executive.

    Good job on pointing out that there is a distinction.

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