Both executive coaching and business coaching aim to improve organizational performance. The former focuses on the individual, while the latter offers concrete solutions to concrete problems. Executive coaching improves decisions by empowering the decision-maker. Business coaching improves organizational processes and strategies.

Executive coaching focuses on the decision-maker. 

At first glance, executive coaching and business coaching are alike in many ways. Both aim to improve results for businesses while helping key decision-makers. Still, there are enough differences between the two to make you think long and hard about which of them your business needs.

What is Executive Coaching?

Executive coaching focuses on the decision-maker, aiming to turn him/her into a more capable leader whose decisions will benefit the entire organization. The focus of an executive coach is laser-like. Executive coaching involves a long-term one-on-one professional relationship between the coach and the coached executive.

The objectives of executive coaching are the following:

  • Maximizing the individual performance of the coached leader in personal and professional terms
  • Strengthening leadership competencies and execution skills.
  • Identifying skill gaps and minimizing/eliminating them
  • Giving leaders the practical tools to achieve their organizational objectives and personal goals

Executive coaching is individual-focused. Because its top priority is to improve the quality of leadership, and through it, the results of the organization, it is more suitable for larger companies than mom-and-pop businesses. It is not only the top leadership brass who can benefit from executive coaching, however. Lower-level leaders, such as departmental managers, can also maximize their performance through executive coaching.

What is Business Coaching? 

Business coaching aims to improve the performance of an organization focusing on optimizing processes, eliminating inefficiencies, and helping leaders reassess the position of their business from a fresh perspective. The scope of business coaching also includes individual talent development.

Although individual leadership development can also be part of a business coaching program, the top priority of business coaching is to create an action plan that improves processes and supports sustainable growth.

Business coaching often incorporates concrete, practical, and measurable steps that accomplish clear objectives. A business coach has to understand the business in its entirety, not just the individual leader.

Business coaching focuses on concrete plans and solutions. 

In addition to delivering actionable business advice, a business coach also has to:

  • Have experience in running a business
  • Understand and be capable of reading financial statements
  • Have experience in creating and implementing strategic business plans

We could define a business coach as a combination of executive coach and business consultant.

Key Differences between Executive Coaching and Business Coaching

Although they both aim to improve organizational performance and business results, the two types of coaching achieve their objectives through different paths.

  • Executive coaching focuses on the individual, while business coaching focuses on strategy. Business coaching improves processes and offers solutions to current problems. Executive coaching helps decision-makers improve processes and solve problems.
  • Business coaching suits small businesses betterExecutive coaching is a better fit for larger organizations. Business coaching offers actionable solutions that small business owners can readily implement. Executive coaching goes to the source of decisions and business plans.
  • Executive coaching entails a one-on-one professional relationship. Business coaches work with the owner, CEO, president, and other senior leadership figures to identify problems and produce actionable solutions.
  • A business coach should have direct experience in running a business. An executive coach doesn’t need to have such experience. Executive coaches offer solutions and advice on a personal level rather than on the level of the organization.
  • Executive coaching improves business outcomes through the maximization of individual performance. Business coaching creates an optimal framework for individual performance to shine.

Does your Organization Need Executive Coaching or Business Coaching?

For optimal results, it may need both.

If yours is a small organization looking to grow and scale its way to a higher level, a business coach is probably what you need.

If you’re leading a large organization, executive coaching offers you a more compelling solution. It reaches deeper to trigger continued growth and development in leadership personnel first and utmost.

Business coaching gives you concrete plans and solutions. Executive coaching gives you the tools to devise your plans and solutions.

If you are interested in the ins and outs of leadership development, I invite you to check out my books.


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