Getting Ahead January 8, 2020

What do executive coaches actually do?

What do executive coaches actually do

An executive coach helps business owners, CEOs and high-level or high-potential employees become better leaders, make better decisions and achieve better results.

It’s common to confuse a coach with a consultant, but they’re very different. Consultants are like doctors. They diagnose problems, prescribe solutions and sometimes execute the solution themselves.

Executive coaches perform more like football managers. They ask questions, challenge assumptions, provide resources and guide you in the right direction. They don’t join you on the pitch—they direct you from the sidelines.

What does executive coaching involve?

At Vistage, an executive coach is called a Vistage Chair. That’s because their role is a little different from most coaches. Rather than guiding members on an ad hoc basis, Vistage Chairs host monthly group meetings and one-on-one coaching sessions with every member.

The group meetings allow members to learn from the chair, plus work through problems and come up with ideas with other members. The one-to-one sessions allow members to work through their challenges in more depth with their Vistage Chair.

The guiding principle of Vistage is to help one another become better leaders through these group discussions, helping to make better decisions and achieve better results. And it works! According to a 2017 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data, Vistage member companies grew 2.2 times faster than average small and medium-sized businesses.

The Vistage difference

Anybody can call themselves an executive coach—even if they have no relevant experience or training.

Vistage Chairs, however, are proven accomplished business leaders. They’ve led organisations across a wide range of industries. Some have owned businesses and many have been CEOs of domestic and international companies. On top of this experience, all Vistage Chairs go through a rigorous training program and, in the first year alone, new Chairs receive 150 hours of action-oriented training.

What do Vistage Chairs do?

The primary functions of a Vistage Chair are to host monthly group meetings and one-to-one coaching sessions.

As Chair of group meetings, they make sure everybody gets their voice heard. As we’re sure you can imagine, in a room full of business leaders, there’s a lot of strong characters! So, the Chair keeps the meeting on track and has the emotional intelligence to make sure that the quieter or more reticent members have an opportunity to share their ideas and thoughts.

More generally, Vistage Chairs help you get to the crux of the issues in your business. By helping you define and understand the problems, they can then help you solve them. It’s not uncommon for business owners to feel like a lone wolf in the wilderness. Vistage Chairs offer support and encouragement; someone to bounce ideas off.

Chairs also hold you accountable. In fact, having someone who will challenge you and push you to achieve more is often cited by Vistage members as a major reason why they join and stay. As  Vistage Chair Adam Harris puts it: “People join Vistage not to have their questions answered, but to have their answers questioned.”

Not many business owners, CEO or executives have somebody in their corner who is willing to ask the tough questions and hold them accountable. Chairs’ job is to do this, while also offering support and advise when it comes to developing your capacity to solve your business’ challenges.

It is this mix of challenge and support that enable Chairs to make a real difference to your personal and business performance.

Find out more about Vistage’s executive coaches.



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