Top Tips for Effective Executive Coaching


By Jim Milner and Dr. Nancy L. Zentis

Here are tips from our ECCP facilitators on how to be a more effective Executive coach:

  • Build the Relationship – It’s important to gain trust, buy-in, and commitment. Show interest in what is important to them, listen to their challenges and share the excitement of their successes.
  • Show Empathy – Show that you are listening and understand what the client is seeing and/or feeling, it will help move the conversation to the emotional level. Paraphrasing will help the client to feel heard. (Be careful not to lead or push your beliefs.)
  • Be a Trusted Partner – “Hold the space” for the client with passion and always maintain confidentiality.
  • Focus on the Person, NOT the Problem – There is no need to fix; just discover what is possible.
  • Listen for the “Coachable” Moment – Discover what is important to the coachee right now. Ask: “What answers are you seeking?” Listen for the emotion in their voice. Ask: “What discoveries are you realizing from our discussion?”
  • Develop a Coaching Mindset – Be curious; focus on being a supporter, NOT a controller. Believe that the coachee has the answers they are seeking. Acknowledge the coachee when they show discovery. Ask: “What resonates? What would you want to happen? What would success look like?”
  • Get Consent to Coach – Ask: “Would you be open to engaging in a coaching conversation? What would you like to focus our discussion on today?”
  • Ask Powerful Questions– Powerful questions evoke thought. These questions drill down into issues that carry emotion. Hold space for the client to connect within. Ask: “What more can you say about that feeling?”
  • Listen to Connect – Trust the time when silence is present!
  • Be Fully Present – Say what you heard in contrast to what you did not hear. Ask: “What are you experiencing now?”
  • Use Appreciative Inquiry Approach – Understand that your energy is present, touching the thinking and feeling part of the brain. Know that your presence helps to create and increase motivational feelings that support the focus for new insights and possibilities. (Neuroscience of Coaching)
  • Maintain Integrity – Follow the code of conduct; establish ground rules. Write clear detailed contracts on roles and responsibilities, gain agreement, and encourage and ask for a commitment.
  • Create Breakthroughs – Support the discovery of something that is already known, but newly discovered, an outcome that is triggered by listening to another or different perspective. It may come when one lets go of limiting beliefs which are often driven by judgment and/or assumptions.
  • Design Actions – Encourage the coachee to share the action they will take to achieve success. Ask: “What will you do to turn that insight into action? What will be your timeline to see it through? And, what else?”
  • Manage Progress and Accountability – Ask: “Now that you’ve defined the actions you’ll take, what will success measures look like? What will you do to stay on track with your new action?”
  • Discuss Progress – Ask: “What was your accomplishment for the week? What would you do differently? What were your three “way-finders”?”

IOD offers an online Executive Coaching Certification Program (ECCP) that provides participants with the skill in implementing a Successful Coaching Program and Develop Skills as an Executive Coach.  ECCP is an 8-month program offered online and provides participants with the knowledge of ICF core competencies, code of ethics and core coaching skills.  Participants earn a certification and 24 ICF CCE’s that can be applied for an ICF ACC (Portfolio Pathway) and 24 HRCI Credits.  For more information, contact us at,

Authors: Jim Milner, MBA, BCLC, MCC, President Sector Management Consulting Group and Dr. Nancy L. Zentis, CEO of Institute of Organization Development


Get updates and learn from the best


1 2 3 5 6