The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as a partnership between a coach and a coachee engaging “in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential”. Depending on who the coachee is and what are the motivations driving them, we can distinguish between different types of coaching or coaching ‘modalities’. At times, the line between coaching types can be quite subtle. A question we often hear is: what is the difference between leadership and executive coaching?

What is leadership coaching?

Leadership coaching can be provided to leaders and managers at any level, from first-time leaders to experienced managers. Its purpose is to unlock untapped potential, developing a variety of skills and behaviours that span from communication to the ability to influence and inspire others.

In other words, it’s about enabling leaders - or future leaders - to better lead themselves and others in a way that has a positive impact on the organisation and its culture. Leadership coaching often aims to develop leadership potential, promote behaviours that drive positive culture transformation and support successful transitions.

What is executive coaching?

In executive coaching, a coach tends to work with executive level leaders. This type of leadership coaching focuses on the development of ‘C-Suite Executives’ (CEOs, CFOs etc.) though a coaching relationship that is often geared towards a very specific goal. In this type of coaching programme, the coach often works as a thought partner to enhance strategic thinking, allow executives to take on larger roles as board members, or plan succession strategies to secure the smooth transition between high-level roles.

Executive coaching allows C-Suite leaders to sustain their performance and remain highly motivated in a VUCA world. It focuses on the need for innovation and planning to counter the volatility of the environment around them, and gives them the perspective of an outsider to aid them in making those high level and high stakes decisions.

What leadership and executive coaching have in common

1. Accreditation with a leading coaching body

All coaches in the Know You More community are accredited with a leading recognised coaching body, such as ICF or EMCC, and will have successfully completed a predetermined number of coaching hours as part of their certification. In order to achieve accreditation, coaches also undertake regular training on coaching competencies and will only become accredited when they can prove they are able to use a range of tools and techniques to deliver positive outcomes.

2. CPD & Supervision

To ensure a high standard is maintained, accredited coaches are also committed to their own development by attending regular supervision, along with enhancing their abilities through undertaking a variety of continuous professional development activities. Our membership community platform allows coaches to share advice and best practice, engage with industry experts and access coaching development toolkits.

3. Outcome-oriented

Regardless of their specialisation, a coach will work with a coachee to help them and their business achieve their goals, identify opportunities and come up with solutions for the challenges they face. The measure of success of any coaching relationship is always the outcome - whether that’s measured as a leader’s confidence and performance or by looking at the business’s ROI.