Executive coaching with Marion Gillie: frequently asked questions
- Who needs a coach?
- Who do you usually coach?
- What's the difference between life coaching and executive coaching?
- What's the difference between executive coaching and NLP?
- What is Gestalt coaching?
- What sort of things will we cover in a session?
- How long does a coaching session last?
- How many sessions will I need?
- Can we do it over the phone?
- Where do sessions normally take place?
- Are sessions confidential, or will my line manager be involved?
- What do people mean by a ‘chemistry session’?
- What does APECS / AoEC accreditation mean, and why is it important?
- Can I talk to people you've already coached?
- Do you have a code of ethics?
Who needs a coach?
Anyone who wants to learn and grow and who finds the individual focus of working one–to–one with a skilled professional a stimulating and stretching way of learning. [back to top]
Who do you usually coach?
I predominantly work as an Executive Coach, i.e. with people who are already skilled and competent, but who want to stretch themselves and realise more of their full potential. I particularly like to work with clients who are genuinely curious about themselves, committed to their own development and actively want coaching and who are are prepared to look closely at themselves including their blind spots, prejudices, limiting assumptions/beliefs; and to explore the impact these have on others, on the business and on themselves. [back to top]
What's the difference between life coaching and executive coaching?
Executive coaching takes place within the context of the individual's employing organisation, and it is usually the organisation that funds the work. This means that a) there are typically two coaching 'agendas', the needs of the organisation, and the needs of the individual, which the coaching needs to take account of and to reconcile at some way that is acceptable to both; b) whilst most executive coaches work 'holistically, i.e. with the whole person not just the 'employee' generally the work needs to be grounded in how the individual 'shows up' in the workplace, and how they can increase their satisfaction/competence in that arena. By contrast life coaching is self-funded, so does not have the organisational agenda to take into account. This means that the work can often be wider ranging (e.g. exploring the person's higher purpose in life, their private and personal satisfactions etc). Whilst executive coaching may look at these areas too, the focus always comes back to what this means for this person in this organisation at this time in their life. [back to top]
What's the difference between executive coaching and NLP?
here are may routes into becoming a coach. NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) is one particular form of development that a coach might undertake in their development in becoming a coach. So whilst some coaches are NLP qualified, not all NLP training people are coaches! [back to top]
What is Gestalt coaching?
Gestalt is essentially an optimistic approach, holding that we are all trying to do the best we can within a particular set of circumstances, and that even the most ‘unhelpful’ behaviour is serving an important purpose for us. Gestalt also holds that in an ideal world, we becomes aware of what we need (e.g. to feel happy, successful, satisfied), then mobilise energy to act in order to get those needs met. Sadly for most of us it’s not an ideal world all of the time and sometimes we get ‘blocked’, either in not being clear enough about what our real needs are or in our ability to find a way of acting to get our needs met. The Gestalt coach, then engages in partnership with the client in an exploration of what sense the client is making of his or her world, raising awareness of how he or she is blocking effectiveness, and seeking ways (through active experimentation) to act to become more effective in the world. (See also How Gestalt informs our work) [back to top]
What sort of things will we cover in a session?
I spend much of the first coaching session finding out what is most important to the coachee and to their organisation, then together we agree our ‘coaching agenda’. This might cover a whole host of topics from the high-level strategic, to the deeper or more specific. Examples might include: helping the individual work through key strategic business issues; ‘shadowing’ the individual as they go about their daily work (or observing particular activities/meetings), providing on–going observations and feedback; behavioural skills coaching / behavioural role plays, simulating key relationships / work on voice and non–verbal communication; dealing with specific blocks to effectiveness, i.e. confronting issues which are driving unproductive behaviour (e.g. an extreme need for approval or a strong and unhelpful drive for perfection); examining issues such as: career direction; role pressures and priorities; value clashes (e.g. personal vs. work); boundary management (e.g. home and work). [back to top]
How long does a coaching session last?
Coaches all have their preferred way of working. I like to contract for 6 sessions initially which we review as we go along and in more depth at the end. We might then contract for more sessions or agree that the work (at least for now) is done. My sessions tend to be 1.5 to 2 hours long and, on average, monthly, although it wouldn't be unusual to have sessions closer together at the start and then with larger gaps at the end (so that the coachee has more time to experiment with new behaviours and approaches). [back to top]
How many sessions will I need overall?
This depends on what it is you need to work on! If you are transitioning into a new role, you would probably benefit from a concentrated number of sessions that cover your first one hundred days. If you are building a new function or team, you may need sessions every 4 to 6 weeks covering a longer period of time, say a year. [back to top]
Can we do it over the phone?
Yes, although there are pros and cons. I find that once there is enough trust established in the coach, good work can be achieved remotely. Coaching over the phone is especially good for focused, outcome/action oriented coaching, but clearly less helpful if the coachee needs to work on their verbal and non–verbal impact (unless most of their work is by conference call). If the main focus on the work is on the inner world of the coachee, e.g. their confidence levels, or a particular ‘block’ like the need to be liked, then personally I find face–to–face coaching more impactful, but I have done this work by phone when my client is based in a different continent! [back to top]
Where do sessions normally take place?
Generally, Executive Coaching takes place in the workplace of the coachee, a quiet meeting room away from their usual office or team. When the work is sensitive, or is touching on more personal areas, I often contract with the coachee to book a meeting room away from their office, and I do have some coachees who like to come to my home ‘office’ if geography allows. [back to top]
Are sessions confidential, or will my line manager be involved?
Coaches differ in terms of what is or is not confidential. Many hold that everything that is said in the coaching session stays between the coach and coachee, yet I know one coach who says that nothing is confidential (and is still highly trusted by his coachees). Personally, I like to agree with the coachee and their line manager what information will be available to the ‘organisation’, and I like the coachee to take responsibility for managing their conversations with their manager about how they are progressing. I ask the line manager (or HR representative) to disclose to the coachee what they hope the person will work on in the coaching. This stops them using me as a vehicle for giving tough feedback that is really their job to give! I am also clear with line managers and HR representatives that there will probably be information arising in the coaching that needs to remain confidential, and I make sure that they have given me their agreement about this. This makes the coaching process as ‘transparent’ as possible, and does not land the coach with the onerous task of ‘holding secrets’. There may be exceptional cases however where I am legally obliged to disclose information that has come to light in a coaching session. [back to top]
What do people mean by a ‘chemistry session’?
All the research on the effectiveness of other ‘helping’ relationships (e.g. counselling) shows that the most critical factor is the relationship that the coach and coachee establish between them, the level of trust and rapport that they develop. Although there has not been much similar research on coaching as yet, it looks as though a similar finding is likely (Erik de Haan: ‘Relational Coaching’. 2008). It is important, therefore, that the first meeting includes a conversation about ‘chemistry’, i.e. do the coach and coachee think that they can work well together? This isn’t about do they like each other (although they may do), it’s about does the coachee feel able to open up to the coach and can the coach both support the coachee without becoming cosy and challenge the coachee without being brutal. [back to top]
What does APECS / AoEC accreditation mean, and why is it important?
Unlike counselling and psychotherapy, coaching is not currently a regulated profession in the UK, which means that anyone can call him or herself a coach, regardless of qualification or experience. Organisations like APECS (the Association for Professional Executive Coaches and Coach Supervisors), the ICF (International Coach Federation) and the AoEC (Academy of Executive Coaching) and the EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) set a standard in terms of coaching qualification and amount of experience that their members must have in order to be accredited with their professional body. It is a quality kite mark, it tells you they have appropriate credentials. [back to top]
Can I talk to people you've already coached?
I would be more than happy you provide you with the names and contact details of past coachees you could talk to. You can also see some testimonials from recent clients. [back to top]
Do you have a code of ethics?
Yes. As an APECS accredited Executive Coach, I subscribe to their Code of Ethics, which strives for the safest and most effective conditions for clients (those being coached), the clearest and most transparent understanding with host companies who commission Executive Coaching and the highest professional standards for their coaches and supervisors. [back to top]