Because of the growth in popularity of executive coaching many leaders are considering whether coaching is right for them. In order to provide a variety of perspectives on the philosophy, process, and benefits of executive coaching, I conducted interviews with three independent executive coaches, one sales coach, and two executives at America Online and Capital One, to lend their perspective on some frequently asked questions about executive coaching.

Dr. Cutts: What is your definition of Executive Coaching?

“Coaching has become a major leadership development investment and a pre-requisite for high performing, high potential executives, managers, and employees in a wide variety of industries. Top corporations look to executive coaching as a resource for accelerating leadership development, personal growth and enhancing organizational effectiveness.” (Madelyn Clark-Robinson, President and Executive Coach, Executive Development Strategies

“A coach is a skilled motivator and one that asks provocative questions.” (Le’Angela Ingram, Executive Coach, The Ingram Consulting Group, Inc.

“The coach does not provide ‘expert’ advice but rather provides a mirror for the executive to remain accountable to the executive’s goals and objectives.” (Don Sloane, Executive Coach and CEO The Sloane Group, Inc.

“Executive coaching is synonymous with directing. A sales or athletic coach views the team and assesses its strengths and weaknesses. A good mentor allows the student to figure out the problem and brainstorm for ways to fix it.” (Loretta Collins, Sales Coach and President, The Sales Doctor, LLC

Dr. Cutts: What are some typical reasons why someone might engage an Executive Coach?

Ingram: A few of the reasons that individuals come to me include: career search, career transitioning; personal transitions and sometimes as a sounding board for ideas or difficult situations at work. There are times that I’m simply used as a confidante for clients exploring new things in life.

Sloan: Executives come to me to increase self-awareness, to augment existing capabilities, or for succession planning-“what do I want to do next with my life professionally and or personally”.

Clark-Robinson: The companies that I work with are interested in and committed to sustaining success and know how crucial people are to that intention.

Dr. Cutts: What are some of the benefits of working with an Executive Coach?

“I gained a more holistic approach to my business and personal life. I learned to let go more, let other people contribute. He [my coach] helped me understand that I can’t do everything on my own.” (Marc S., VP, AOL Inc.)

“My executive coach has been a great sounding board to help me frame what I am personally looking for in my job and helping me align my goals with Capital One’s goals. This process has then helped me to work on any weaknesses that would prevent me from achieving our common goals due to organizational barriers that play against those weaknesses.” (Richard C., Senior VP, Capital One)

Dr. Cutts: What do executives look for when selecting a coach?

“Primarily I looked for someone who had a background in organizational psychology and experience in counseling to develop self awareness and maneuvering through organizational influences.” (Richard C.)

“I looked for experience, personality, understanding of business and personal aspects, preferably African American-having an understanding of the unique needs of a Black Executive.” (Marc S.)

“The most important thing to look for in selecting a coach is someone with whom you feel you can easily relate to and create the most powerful partnership.” (International Coach Federation,

Dr. Cutts: What is your philosophy about coaching?

Ingram: My belief in every individuals’ inherit excellence is what drives me to work with clients. We are all good at something, and some of us have eyes to see ‘giftings’ and can call those gifts forward from others to serve the world at great depths.

Sloan: The coaching relationship is not therapy, it is a relationship where the coach advocates for the client by providing clear, honest, and timely feedback while maintaining the dignity of the client at all times. Coaching is forward looking; where is the client now, where to they want to be, what is the path to get from here to there verses how did the client get to where they are now.

Collins: Give a man a fish he eats for a day. TEACH a man to fish…. My mother has always said that you teach your children the one thing you don’t want them to do- and that’s leave. Coaching is similar. You want to give your clients the techniques to recognize and fix their own problems. However, there is no shame in admitting you need help again. A coach’s job is to be available but NOT do their job.

Dr. Cutts: What is your specific process for coaching?

Ingram: I don’t offer a cookie cutter process. Each client is different in their need, and style. I have several models that I like to use and often take pieces of different models to meet the client’s unique needs. The number of sessions and frequency of sessions vary.

Sloan: The initial meeting is face-to-face when possible but not required. Sessions also take place by phone and each session is typically an hour. A minimum of three months commitment is required.

Collins: I do a discovery session with the client asking what he or she thinks the problem is, and from there go through a step by step process of how a potential sale might go. It’s important to see how the client thinks and how and why they think coaching will help. After that, I design a plan of action to help achieve that person’s goal.

Between scheduled coaching sessions, the individual may be asked to complete specific actions that support the achievement of one’s personally prioritized goals. The coach may provide additional resources in the form of relevant articles, checklists, assessments, or models, to support the individual’s thinking and actions. (International Coach Federation,

What type of fees should one expect to pay for executive coaching?

Fees for executive coaching range from approximately $150-$300 per sessions. Many coaches also offer packages for 3, 6, and 12 months.

What is a typical duration of the coaching relationship?

Three months to a year is average.

Dr. Cutts: Would you recommend executive coaching to others, and why?

“Yes if people want to be great at work or in their personal life and want to constantly develop and evolve then having a great coach is the way to go.” (Marc S.)

“I would definitely recommend executive coaching to others for many reasons. First, it forces you to take the time to develop an understanding of the organization and get a perspective of the system in which you work. It also helps you to develop a deeper understanding and awareness of what is important to you individually and to the company. It also helps you understand how your personal weaknesses may be inhibiting your ability to achieve your personal or company goals. Finally, it provides a third party sounding board to develop and implement a strategy to achieve those goals.” (Richard C.)

Author's Bio: 

Nicole Cutts, Ph.D. Leading Success Coach Expert specializes in Transforming People and Organizations for Success. Visit her website and sign-up for the FREE innovative and forward-thinking Tips-for-Success newsletter, “Vision for Success.”

Dr. Cutts is the CEO of Cutts Consulting, LLC and its subsidiary, Vision Quest Retreats &

For over 10 years Nicole Cutts, Ph.D., licensed Clinical Psychologist, Success Coach, and Organizational Consultant has been inspiring and empowering people to achieve a more balanced and successful lifestyle. Dr. Cutts has consulted with and trained executives, managers, and teams at Fortune 500 Companies, Federal Government Agencies, and Non-Profit Organizations. As a master facilitator and Success Coach, she helps people create an exceptional life by honoring their mind, body, and spirit so they can experience joy, passion, meaning, and ultimate success in their work.

Dr. Cutts is a featured writer on the Walter Kaitz Foundation website and has been a contributing writer for Identity Television, The Next Level, and The Diversity Channel, where she was also the Senior Features Editor. She sits on the D.C. Bar Association Lawyer’s Counseling Committee and the Board of the Student Support Center. She has appeared on BET’s The Center, the BBC, Roland Martin’s, Urban Business Roundtable and various radio programs. She has co-authored and published several articles in scientific and literary journals. Her writings on Corporate Wellness, Success Coaching, and Diversity have appeared on several Chamber of Commerce and business websites.