September 20, 2021

What to Expect From an Executive Coach Relationship

Clinician Leadership | Leadership Development | Team Development

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’re a healthcare leader in 2021, chances are very high that you’re working mightily to transform some aspect of your personal, leadership or team outcomes. Whether it’s an overdue shift in organizational culture, navigating conflict, restoring a damaged reputation or else, wise leaders recognize that new results demand new approaches.

As you explore solutions, it’s natural to go on self-education mode, and many begin investing in training… only to grow frustrated by the slow or lack of progress. (We wrote about how adults learn and making changes stick in this post.)

The reality is that behavioral change takes time. That’s where executive coaching comes in.

Coaching for Change

Effective coaching is a one-on-one process designed for short and long-term progress in your personal, professional, and organizational goals. Through coaching, leaders develop greater self awareness to challenges unique to your role, organization, goals, and even your personality and personal quirks.

Coaching is rooted in four beliefs:

  1. Coach and Client are equal partners, sharing accountability in the process.
  2. Clients are resourceful and capable.
  3. Coach-Client work should be goal-oriented and solution-focused with observable outcomes that impact business results.
  4. The Coach’s role is to elicit self-discovered insight and expand the Client’s proficiency — not to give advice.
Our Philosophy: Transformational Coaching

In our work with leaders like you, we draw from well-established principles of adult learning to arm you with the best chance of achieving the outcomes you desire. To that end, expect to develop deep self-awareness of your behavioral patterns, motivators, preferences and more, closing the gap between your self-perception and how others experience you.

With that knowledge, you have several options to boost your effectiveness. You can work to build new muscle in areas of overused strength or undeveloped proficiency. You can help your team better understand and interpret your intentions, and communicate more effectively. You can look to others on the team to add complementary styles and preferences that add depth and strength to the group.

Unlike Transactional Coaching, which teaches skills to help you function more effectively in your existing worldview, Transformational Coaching drives deeper, helping you recognize, examine and challenge underlying thoughts that drive your behaviors. If transformation is what you’re after, then Transformational Coaching is the path to get there.

The Coaching Process

The MEDI Coaching Method employs a deliberate process to produce demonstrated and sustainable proficiency in key leadership competencies. Below are key components of that process:

1. Discovery

  • Identifying goals, objectives and outcomes for the coaching engagement.
  • Identifying a coach who is best suited for the proposed assignment, and with whom the Client has positive chemistry.

2. Assessment

  • Client completes a number of assessments as background for defining the coaching plan and goals.
  • Assessment tools include an in-depth, pre-coaching questionnaire; a behavior-based 360; stakeholder interviews; and external assessment instruments for additional insights regarding values, interactions with others, and preferred operating style.
  • Assessments are held in strict confidence, and are typically completed electronically.

3. Plan Development & Implementation

  • Coach supports the Client in identifying and building core strengths, personal purpose and professional vision, as well as goals for the coaching engagement.
  • Define no more than 2-3 goals along with success metrics.
  • A custom action plan, including scheduled meetings and phone calls, is developed mutually by Coach and Client.

4. Scheduling of Coaching Sessions and Commitments

  • Two-day kickoff aimed at building the Coach-Client alliance, mutual rapport, self-awareness and agreement on next steps.
  • Coaching calls continue periodically (e.g. every 2-3 weeks) when the Coach helps the Client to explore relevant issues, underlying mental models, leadership patterns, and identify “homework” for ongoing progress.

5. Evaluation

  • MEDI Coach discusses progress and next steps with the Client and Sponsor.
  • A sustainability plan is developed for continued improvements beyond the coaching relationship.
  • Client receives an evaluation and provides feedback on the Coach.
What to Expect From Your Coach

A competent Coach will support your growth aspirations by applying keen listening, asking pertinent questions, making useful observations, and providing a safe, supportive, confidential space where you can discuss issues freely.

It’s helpful to keep in mind:

  • Coaching is not consulting. Consultants typically come to you with answers. By contrast, your Coach will draw out your own resourcefulness and experience. On occasion, your Coach may introduce models and principles of leadership concepts as raw material for you to consider as you develop your own, authentic leadership style.
  • Coaching is not therapy. Coaches are not trained as therapists. We do examine your whole self — personal and professional realms — because we believe how you do one thing is how you do everything. If specific personal issues or concerns arise, you might benefit from contacting a licensed professional.
  • Trust the process. In coaching, the process is just as important as the content discussed. Each step builds on the last one.
  • You’ll be pushed. This is a new experience, and it requires extra time and energy. Your Coach will ask you to reach beyond what you might think is possible.
  • Change flows from the inside out. We believe significant, sustainable change begins in you—the leader. It then flows through your team, your organization and, ultimately, the customer. As we begin, the coaching work will focus on you and then gradually shift outward.
Getting the Most Out of Your Coaching Engagement
  • Each meeting is yours to design. Your Coach’s job is to keep you anchored in your goals, even if a particular session might seem off-topic, such as addressing an unexpected crisis, new interest or opportunity.
  • After each session, reflect on the discussion, takeaways, and what you might want to discuss next time.
  • Before a new session, take time to ponder your objectives for that time. Reflect once again on takeaways from your last session, what you’ve accomplished since then (either mentally, emotionally, or behaviorally), and what you want to explore in the next session.
  • It’s useful to have a dedicated notebook or journal to document ideas, reflections and notes.
  • Give honest feedback to your Coach about what you derive from each session and how it’s impacting your development.

Confidentiality is crucial for a successful coaching relationship. Here’s how MEDI Coaches manage sensitive, personal or proprietary info in our Client engagements:

  • Your Coach recognizes you may share future plans, business affairs, customer lists, goals, and financial, job or personal information, as well as other confidential or proprietary info.
  • The Coach will not at any time, either directly or indirectly, use any information for their own benefit, nor disclose any information to a third party except as agreed with the Sponsor as it relates directly to your coaching goals.
  • Neither your Coach nor your Sponsor will divulge that you are in a coaching relationship without your express permission.

Do questions remain about how you might work with (or benefit from) an Executive Coach? We’re happy to answer your questions and help you clarify next steps.


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About the author

Robert "Bob" Porter, JD, MBA, PCC

Robert "Bob" Porter, JD, MBA, PCC is an accomplished organizational leader with over 30 years’ experience in health system leadership. Bob has extensive experience in working with senior leadership executives in complex organizational settings, with a proven track record for engaging diverse stakeholders in the redesign of organizational systems and processes to achieve breakthrough improvement in performance.

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