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Business Coaching vs. Executive Coaching

written byErickson Coaching Internationalon 06/03/2017

Business coaching vs Executive coaching

Professional coaches come in many disciplines and niches. There is corporate and small business coaching, personal coaching as well as career coaching to name just a few (go here to download our "20 Coaching Niches" guide and discover more coaching niches).

Have you ever wondered about the differences between a business and executive coach (because they sound similar)? Let's examine what makes them similar and what sets them apart.

The Similarities

Although quite different, in the very nature of both practices, business and executive coaches do share some similarities. Regardless of their approach, coaches in both niches have one goal in mind: helping their clients improve their business, or solve business-related issues they might be encountering. And at the end of the day, both help their clients grow their bottom line.

If you are a small business owner or a leader of a large organization and want to know which type of coach is best suited for your current needs, ask yourself whether you (or your staff) require strategy or personal development? This will ultimately inform your decision.

If you are a new coach and are trying to decide which one of these niches to specialize in, it will be useful to review the main focus of each niche to determine which one appeals to you the most.

Some Differences

Business Coach

A business coach specifically focuses on business-related coaching. This might sound obvious, but in fact, it’s not. This type of coach has undergone coach training and works with business owners independently. A trained business coach works with clients on a variety of goals, some of each include reviving the strategy, improving organization, identifying marketing needs, and boosting the overall performance of a business. Business coaches are trained to recognize and help resolve issues and stumbling blocks around many areas of a business. They can also help their clients to problem solve any future issues as they arise.

As a business coach, you will understand successful business practices, productive team environments, motivational approaches, and provide tools to overcome any obstacles. A business coach, therefore, works in a partnership with their client (a business owner) to grow their company and/or solve a business-related obstacle.

Executive Coach

In comparison, an executive coach can be independent (hired to coach teams and managers for specific periods of time) or can work in-house (retained by the company to coach leadership and employees) But the ultimate difference is executive coaches are brought in to help with personal development. Yes, personal development of executives will lead to improving the company’s bottom line, however, it’s certainly a more indirect method of going about the results.

Watch this video to learn more about coaching in organizations.

Executive coaches are typically hired to help C-suite, VPs and other executives with setting, following and achieving personal improvement goals (see our executive coaching case studies). These can vary from increasing productivity, developing leadership skills, managing staff, improving communication, etc. It’s about facilitating change in someone’s (personal) behaviour which will ultimately result in achieving their fiscal goals, however indirectly. 

At Erickson, we believe that everyone needs a coach. So whatever niche you choose to specialize in, there is a demand for skilful coaches already! And if you don’t take our word for it, take it from Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt.