Placing Power

Placing Power

By Dr. Virginia Collins. PhD


Over the past two decades extensive research has shown executive coaching to be an effective approach for the development of leadership skills. The behavioral changes that occur through this process tend to be sticky and have a long-term impact on an executive’s thought, choices and behavior. It can also have a meaningful impact on the organizations in which the executive serves.


Placing power in the hands of the executive being coached (the coachee) is one of the important first steps that can enhance the effectiveness of the coaching experience and eventually the organization as a whole. Frequently, the decision to engage an executive coach in support of a CEO or other senior executive is in the hands of a Board of Directors, or for senior executives, in the hands of the CEO and it is appropriate for the decision to retain coaching services to remain at this board and senior level. However, the decision regarding the individual coach who is leading the process should be in the hands of the potential coachee.


By providing the executive with several pre-approved coaches to interview and then select from, you place the power back into their hands, which puts the power of the relationship where it belongs. This simple step changes the executive mindset from “being done to” to “choosing” to participate in the coaching process.


But don’t just take my word for it, as there is significant research to back this up. Articles have been written about the importance of matching the right coach to the right coachee, saying that the overall final decision should be based on “chemistry” between the two parties. However, that doesn’t always mean choosing the coach they like the most. The majority of the decision should be based on which coach will be the most effective at satisfying the coachee’s specific needs, setting them up with the best chance of success.


We tend to be at our best when we are empowered to make choices. Independence and trust are motivators for people in high-level positions that require a high degree of accountability and responsibility. Placing this power in the hands of the executive who will be coached brings this coaching opportunity to life from the very beginning and will have an impact on the level of engagement, commitment to change and growth for the executive.



Wycherley, I.E. & Cox, E. (2008). Factors in the selection and matching of executive coaches in organizations. Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, 1(1), 39-53.