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Frequently Asked Questions
About Coaching and Mentoring

This page contains answers . . .

. . . to a variety of questions we are frequently asked about executive coaching and executive mentoring. The answers appear when you click on a question. If we can address other questions for you, feel free to email us

Coaching and Mentoring Explained

►    What is coaching?

Coaching is a one-on-one working relationship — a partnership based on trust, candor, and accountability — that empowers people to make the most of their skills, strengths, and relationships. Coaching improves their bottomline effectiveness and produces more fruitful careers, personal lives, and families. Just as you might hire a golf pro to coach you to a better game, personal coaches help you address your most pressing needs in both the workplace and your private life.

►    What is executive coaching?

Executive coaching is a specialized form of coaching and one of the fastest growing personal services today. Executive coaches and mentors zero in on the special needs of top level managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals. These needs include such issues as:

  • adapting to changes in your job profile, your industry, or your company
  • mastering the skills required for high level management
  • creating a more effective top-management team
  • building a career without sacrificing a family
  • staying focused on critical issues and priorities
  • balancing the countless demands that compete for your energy
  • maintaining personal growth and fresh perspectives
  • developing a life-plan for the decades beyond retirement

A coach also serves as a confidant, as a "sounding board" outside of the organization. His or her listening ear provides a safe way for executives and entrepreneurs to voice their frustrations, explore their options, and talk though new courses of action. One leading authority on coaching estimates that 80% of America's high level executives currently have a coach.

For more on executive coaching go to the executive coaching page on this web site.

►    What is executive mentoring?

Executive mentoring is closely akin to executive coaching, and some people make little distinction between them. As we use the term at Strategic Development Leadership International, mentoring is broader in scope and deals with longer term issues than executive coaching. Whereas executive coaching typically focuses on job-related outcomes that can be accomplished in only a few weeks, mentoring expands into issues related to career paths, personal development, and life transitions. There is more on the difference between coaching and mentoring elsewhere on this site, as well as a fuller description of executive mentoring itself.

Clarifying the Nature of Coaching

►  Is coaching a form of consulting?

While there is a consulting element in coaching, executive coaches play a role that is distinctly different from consulting.

  • Consultants and coaches both help you build the business you want. Coaches, however, also help you have the life you want.
  • The consultant's specialty is information and insight. Coaches are more concerned with performance, perspective, balance, focus, and inspiration.
  • Consulting is largely a cognitive function, serving the head. Coaching is commonly more of a heart function, making sure that you stay aligned with your core values and your deeply-held aspirations.
  • Consultants bring you expertise. Coaches mature your own expertise.

Strategic Leadership Development International provides both consulting and executive coaching services, either separately or in combination, dependent on the client's needs. There is more on the difference between coaching and consulting elsewhere at this web site.

►  Is coaching like counseling or therapy?

No, coaching is not a form of therapy. The word "therapy" implies a need for healing. Coaching is not about healing, but about building on the health that is already present. While therapy spends a great deal of time delving into the past, coaching is heavily oriented toward the future. Starting with the "here and now," it looks at where you want to go and helps you pull together the resources to get there.

►  How is coaching done?

Coaching follows a variety of patterns. Some coaching is face to face. Other coaching is by phone and email. Many coaching relationships are a balance of both. Whatever the format, successful coaching calls for extended conversation (typically for 30 to 90 minutes), usually at least twice a month and often weekly.

Should you want more intensive coaching, two and three hour sessions can be arranged. We can also provide half-day or full-day " shadowings" in which we are with you as an observer in all your interactions. This allows us to make job-specific recommendations on ways to improve your communication, management, and work habits.

When you work with Strategic Leadership Development International, your fee entitles you to contact us between sessions for added counsel at no extra cost.

Coaching Effectiveness

►  Who is a candidate for coaching?

Coaching is about change. So the short answer is, coaching is for people who are ready for change — whether a change in effectiveness, a change in their quality of life, or a change in direction for their organization. Coaching is for men and women who are outcome-oriented and who are ready to accept full responsibility for effecting the outcomes they desire. While we specialize in coaching successful professionals, top-level executives, and entrepreneurs, any manager or executive, whatever the stage of his or her career, can profit from having a personal coach.

►  Is there any evidence that coaching works?

A study of coaching in Fortune 1000 companies asked 100 executives to assess the impact of the coaching that they had received. Here are some of their responses, along with the percentage reporting specific benefits:

Improved Working Relationships

  • with direct reports (78%)
  • with immediate supervisors (71%)
  • with peers (63%)
  • with clients (37%)

Benefits to the Company

  • More effective teamwork (67%)
  • Improved productivity (53%)
  • Reduced conflict (52%)
  • Quality enhancement (48%)
  • Reduced customer complaints (34%)

Other studies have found that the return on investment in coaching top level managers and executives can often be as high as five or six to one. Needless to say, these are remarkable findings and explain why executive coaching has grown so markedly in the past decade.

►  How do I determine which coach is right for me?

Perhaps the most important quality in your potential coach is that he or she is someone you feel absolutely comfortable with. Someone with whom you have "good chemistry." Remember, you are going to be in many a candid and confidential conversation with your coach or mentor. You need someone with whom you are instantly and constantly at ease.

On the other hand, there are people with whom you might have "good chemistry" who are not equipped to be good coaches or mentors. You also need someone who understands the subtleties of human and organizational behavior. Someone who does not hesitate to "hold your feet to the fire" when you need to stay on track. Someone who is not afraid to be honest and frank with you, even when you resist such candor.

And you especially need someone who asks insightful, provocative questions. Your coach or mentor should be stretching you in almost every session. While it's important to be at ease with a coach, you don't want a coach who makes you comfortable. The purpose for having a coach or mentor is to grow, and you never grow while being made comfortable.

Time and Financial Investment

►  How long does a coaching relationship last?

There is no set answer to that question, since coaching is tailor-made to each person's needs. Many people retain a coach for a short duration (perhaps three to six months) to work on a specific, limited challenge. Others partner with a coach for years, perhaps to work through a variety of issues or to complete a protracted initiative.

Whether the scope of issues is limited or extensive, the goal of coaching is to move forward expeditiously. A good coach will prod you constantly to optimize your performance. That's one reason coaching is so effective. And once people experience that effectiveness, they often make an extended commitment to coaching.

►  How much does coaching cost?

Fees for coaching are variable based on a variety of factors, including:

  • The frequency of your coaching.
  • The length of your coaching sessions.
  • Whether sessions are in person, by phone, or email
  • Whether the coaching is part of a larger consulting contract
  • Whether we are coaching several people during a single visit to a location.

In general, coaching for mid-level executives is comparable to the investment you make for top-flight legal counsel. Many coaches charge an hourly fee, and we will do so, as well, if corporate policy or other considerations dictate it.

Our preference, however, is to set a negotiated flat fee for the term of the coaching engagement. This way you know the total cost of your coaching up front, before we begin. For this fee you are entitled to our services as often as necessary to achieve your coaching goals, including phone and email contacts between sessions.

If a company contracts with us to provide coaching for two or more people, discounts are available. We also have a discounted fee schedule for non-profits and government agencies on restricted budgets.

►  How are coaching fees paid?

Fees can be paid either by the individual or by his or her company. Unless we have agreed to some other arrangement, we normally expect payment in advance for each month's coaching when fees are charged by the hour. Your payment entitles you to contact us between sessions (by email or phone) for help with specific issues. There is no extra charge for this service.

When a flat fee is charged for coaching, we typically ask for 30% of the fee as an initial retainer. Then, we bill another 40% at the mid-point of the engagement and the final 30% at the end of the engagement.