9 Additional Skills to Succeed as an Executive Coach

Additional skills of an executive coach

9 Additional Skills to Succeed as an Executive Coach

So, you’ve decided to become an executive coach. Congratulations! Executive coaching is a fulfilling and challenging career path that makes a real difference in people’s lives and workplaces. 

But before you start the journey, it’s important to understand what will be required of you as an executive coach.

To be successful as an executive coach, you will need to have more than the core coaching skills such as deep listening skills, the ability to ask thought-provoking questions, and a natural empathy. These are the bedrock of executive coaching, of course, and are central to all coaching.  

But to be an executive coach requires some additional skills and areas of knowledge. For instance, understanding business strategy, emotional intelligence, leadership development skills, change management, and more. 

In this short introductory article, we will explore the skills that an aspiring executive coach needs to succeed.

1. Business Acumen

Executive coaches need to have a deep understanding of business strategy and operations.

This means being able to read and analyse financial statements, understand organisational structures, and have a good grasp of business operations.

You need to be able to understand the challenges and opportunities that your clients face in their businesses and be able to help them develop strategies to achieve their goals.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.

As an executive coach, you need to be emotionally intelligent and be able to build strong relationships with your clients. You need to be able to understand their motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and how they interact with others.

This calls upon your empathy, active listening skills, and the ability to provide constructive feedback.

3. Leadership Development

Leadership development is a critical part of executive coaching.

You need to be able to help your clients develop their leadership skills and become effective leaders.

This means understanding different leadership styles and being able to tailor your coaching approach to meet the needs of each client.

4. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is the ability to think critically and creatively about business challenges and opportunities.

As an executive coach, you need to be able to help your clients develop their strategic thinking skills and be able to identify and capitalise on opportunities.

This requires being able to analyse data, identify trends, and think outside the box.

5. Change Management

Change is a constant in today’s business environment.

Executive coaches need to be able to help their clients navigate change and develop strategies to manage it effectively.

You’ll need to understand change management methodologies and be able to help clients implement them successfully.

6. Cultural Sensitivity

In today’s global business environment, executive coaches need to be able to work effectively with clients from different cultural backgrounds.

You need to be sensitive to the cultural differences that may impact your coaching relationships and be able to adapt your coaching style accordingly.

7. Communication Skills

Effective communication is critical in executive coaching. You need to be able to give constructive feedback, deliver difficult messages, and build strong relationships with your clients.

This requires excellent communication skills, both verbal and written.

8. Understanding and Working with Psychometric Tools

Many organisations use psychometric tools and other models to assess and support team members. 

From 360 feedback, to DISC, MBTI and many other models, the executive, whilst not a master of all, will need to be able to learn, work with and explore the outcomes of psychometric models and assessment tools. 

These are rarely taught on core coaching skill courses and thus need to be acquired later or already known.

9. Navigating Organisational Structures

In addition to these specific coaching skills, executive coaches may need to know, a skill that is easily forgotten is the ability to navigate the complex routes to business with organisations.

Unlike disciplines such as life coaching in which a coach’s relationship is directly with their client, the executive coach needs to know how to work with HR departments, commissioners of coaching and heads of coaching teams in complex tripartite agreements..


In conclusion, becoming an executive coach requires more than just core coaching skills. 

You need to develop a range of additional skills, including business acumen, emotional intelligence, leadership development, strategic thinking, change management, cultural sensitivity, and communication skills. 

By developing these skills, you will be able to provide valuable insights and advice to your clients, and help them achieve their goals and aspirations. With dedication and hard work, you can become a successful executive coach and make a real difference in people’s lives.

Author Details
Nick is the founder and CEO of Animas Centre for Coaching and the International Centre for Coaching Supervision. Nick is an existentially oriented coach and supervisor with a passion for the ideas, principles and philosophy that sits behind coaching.

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