The objective of an executive coaching is to help her or him to fill the big shoes, especially by taking advantage of her/his full potential.
Consequently, an important step of the coaching journey is to invite the executive to be aware of the different dimensions of her/his potential. This is done by using a combination of psychometric and symbolic tools. Psychometric instruments are providing a simple but approximate description of the person which has limited use in the real life. Symbolic tools help values, visions and desires to emerge: This is what the executive wants to know about herself/himself.
A second step consists in improving the understanding of the environment: the executive team, the enterprise and the external world of customers and competitors.
The pitfalls that may hinder the effectiveness of the executive and his team need to be identified and the actions to be taken have to be reviewed carefully.
I personnally think that beyond the leadership development, the coach and the executive have to work on values and responsabilities. Ryuzaboru Karu, Honorary Chaiman of the Board of Canon, wrote: "..global companies have no future if the earth has no future". This means that many executives understand the need to respond to long term issues such as the excess of CO2 or the damages to the environment, a lot of them include their intention to respond in their vision statement, but very few are aware that we do not have a lot of time in front of us. Short term pressure prevails.
Therefore, there is a need for consistency between the mission (what do I do in my business?), the vision (where do I go?), the values (rules for action) and the action plan (how do I fullfill the mission and reach the vision?). Very often, the executive has to reconcile these four elements with the corporate culture which is itself a complex construct.
A part of the work is to make explicit the articulation of this system and identify issues, that is contradictions between elements. As Edgar Schein pointed, the real leader is able to fix such issues by changing the system. He is by the way the only one who can brave the corporate culture, probably the most resistant element of the system.