My name is Sari van Poelje. I’m the director of Intact Academy, we train up coaches and consultants from beginners to advanced, from team coaches to consultants. In Team Agility I help businesses innovate more quickly than their products. I work with multinationals, family, businesses and startups. I’m a registered European Union startup coach. I still love my work after 35 years. So I feel very privileged and lucky to be able to contribute to better lives, better business this way.
In this series of vlogs and blogs I’m talking about executive coaching, and the steps and models you could use. First we talked about a general model, then we talked about contact, contract and problem definition. Now we’re going to talk about interventions in executive coaching.
A lot of my students say: now I know what’s going on, what do I actually do with a client? The ICF, International Coaching Federation has a guideline of criteria. These are quite good as a guideline to see what kind of intervention you can do. I want to talk a bit more about what interventions you could do with a client.
The roles you can have in executive coaching
We usually talk of four possible roles the coach has in executive coaching: facilitative and educative, then evaluative, and consultative.
A facilitative role (right hand top corner) is the traditional role we think of when we do coaching. We support professional and personal development. And we do that through asking powerful questions, through reflection and paraphrasing, through helping facilitate self-reflection. A lot of the managers that come to me are not really good at self-reflection. They often don’t have the competency to look at what they’re doing, and the effect they have on others. In the facilitative role I help them unpick the problems and cases they bring, to reflect at a meta level what’s going on.
In the educational role I teach. I could ask the client thousands of questions, but really, if they’re asking me what is one plus one, I teach them two. Give them a small piece of information so they can frame their problem or frame their question themselves, and then help them to generalise their answer.
We’re not just giving people a fish, we’re teaching them how to fish. So hopefully, they’ll solve the problem during the executive coaching, but they’ll also gain competencies to solve their own problems better in future. So part of my role in executive coaching is education.
My third role is evaluative (bottom right).
A client came in to executive coaching completely agitated. He looked terrible, with a grey tint underneath his skin. He was a young guy, only in his 40s. At first, he talked to me about his great organisational change role, and said he wanted help to lead it.
I said, How much do you sleep? And he said, Oh, I sleep four hours a night. I don’t need more than that.
I said, How long have you been doing this? He said, Since the first time I had to change the organisation, I’ve had interrupted sleep. So I wake up tired.
Was he eating regularly? He said, I don’t really taste what I eat anymore. I go out with clients and I gained weight in the last few years. I used to play football with my friends, I stopped doing that.
I was gathering information about his social profile, his at risk profile for getting sick. I was concerned that this guy was going to burn out.
In that case I had an evaluative role. helping him see that it would be good to work with someone else on improving his health at the same time. Ultimately if he burnt out there’s no point in focusing on the organisational change, because he won’t be there to do it.
In the evaluative role people ask to help them calibrate where they are on their journey and leadership role.
The fourth role is the consultative role. This develops as time goes on. When I know a client really well, we become sparring partners . Here they’re not only concerned about their own professional and personal issues, but in the wider system and context .
I get into this consultative role usually at the end of our executive coaching contract. It’s almost like they’re crossing a threshold by using me as a consultant, checking out if they’re in the right position, and then moving on to the next step without me.
I invite you to check out these roles as you do executive coaching. Let me know how you get on.