What Does an Executive Coach Do?

Topic(s): coaching
Publication: Harvard Business Review (2009)
Article: What Can Coaches Do for You?
Authors: Diane Coutu and Carol Kauffman
Reviewed by: Scott Charles Sitrin

There is a lot of buzz around the term “Executive Coach” so what does an executive coach do and what do you need to know before you hire one? Harvard Business Review authors took a survey of 140 seasoned coaches, here are some results:

  • How much does it cost? The average cost is $500 per hour, and the range is from $200 on the low end to $3,500 on the high end.
  • How long does it last? Typical engagements last 7 to 12 months.
  • Does coaching cover personal issues? Though coaches are rarely hired to address personal issues, life does tend to get in the way of work, and 76% of the coaches surveyed indicated that they ultimately discussed personal problems with the executives.
  • Who typically hires the coach? Human resources, management, and the coachee were the most common initiators of the coaching relationship.
  • Will the coaching sessions be confidential? Over half of the respondents indicated that they keep management or human resources apprised of the executive’s progress. The authors did not mention if these updates breached confidentiality or were terms agreed upon at the beginning of the coaching relationship.
  • Why do people typically hire a coach? The three most common resources are to develop the potential of an executive, to serve as a sounding board, and to address counterproductive behavior.
  • What should I look for in a coach? According to the respondents of the survey, key characteristics of a coach include previous experience, a clear methodology, and a measurable return on investment.