As a leader of leaders, working  with an Executive Coach brings enormous benefits when it comes to growing and developing yourself and your teams, honing your purpose and  strategic thinking, reflecting and brainstorming to make better decisions, and building strong relations with all stakeholders.  You may find yourself wondering whether to engage an internal coach or an external coach.

In some cases, certainly in larger organizations, you may have the opportunity to work with a coach that is employed by your company, and this certainly brings many benefits such as:

  1. There are no financial costs to you
  2. The internal coach understands your organizational culture
  3. The internal coach understands the policies and processes at play

That said, there are also many great benefits to working with a coach that is external to your company.  As an external coaching organization, leaders often hire us rather than or in addition to work with an internal coach for a number of reasons:

  1. Confidentiality:  even though internal coaches are held to confidentiality, sometimes the leader has the perception that it is not safe for them to be fully open to share their challenges and opportunities with somebody within their organization.  They perceive this as possibly being a career-limiting move.
  2. Ownership:  these leaders tend to want to fully own their journey.  They are putting their time and funds on the line to grow themselves personally and professionally.  They may also wish to integrate personal topics which they perceive to be outside the scope of internal coaching.
  3. Objective Third-Party Perspective:  they want to have a sounding board that is outside their immediate environment, who does not have a vested interest in the related dynamics and who has the sole agenda of supporting them with their learning, development, and goals.
  4. Additional Offerings:  they may be interested in one of the speciality areas of the external coach that is not offered internally – eg, emotional intelligence, mental fitness, values-based leadership, and engagement.
  5. Choice – you get to choose your coach and find a coach that is a fit for you.

For further information on the pros and cons of working with an internal or external coach, here are additional articles:


What do leaders of leaders work on with a coach?  In interviewing leaders, here is what they shared with me about what they work on through coaching:

  1. Reflect, plan, strategize
    1. Talk through and increase self-awareness: “These are the challenges I’m facing.  This is what I know.  This is how I want to handle it”; Explore: “What other ideas, perspectives or learning might there be?”; and Bring it all together: “Share ideas, discuss strategies, learn, practice”
    2. Be reflective rather than going with the temptation of do, do, do; Help organize my/our thoughts by asking the appropriate questions; Take a step back, assess and survey, and then move forward based on this new view and understanding
  2. Talk about challenging, high stress situations – talk out ideas, thoughts or feelings and ground them in leadership
  3. Look at things that have gone well, things that have not gone well, and keep my wits about me to ensure that I make sound decisions
  4. Leverage resources and ecosystem
  5. Prioritize where the effort is best expended and get to the goal faster and in a methodical way
  6. Address gaps and take advantage of opportunities
  7. Adapt to the current situation
  8. Self-discovery with somebody who is external and who is non-judgmental

For any coaching to be successful, you need to feel safe and be able to be open with your coach. Therefore, when you go to engage a coach, do your research.  Interview three coaches to ensure fit.  Following, for the International Coaching Federation website, are questions to consider asking a potential coach (

  1. What is your coaching experience (number of individuals coached, years of experience, types of coaching situations, etc.)?
  2. What is your coach-specific training (an ICF-accredited training program, other coach-specific training, etc.)?
  3. What is your coaching specialty or areas in which you most often work?
  4. What types of organizations do you work with most often? And, at what levels (executives, upper management, middle management, etc.)?
  5. What types of assessments are you certified to deliver?
  6. What are some of your coaching success stories (specific examples of clients who have succeeded as a result of coaching)?
  7. Are you an ICF Member? Do you hold an ICF Credential?

There are many reasons to consider engaging with an external coach.  Book a session with me to explore how external coaching can support you as the best leader that you want to be.  You can also contact me.


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