How To Set Goals for Executive Coaching

| Aug 20, 2021


Setting goals is an important component of any coaching process. Without clear goals that are aligned with your values, purpose and organizational objectives it is almost impossible to know where to focus your effort for maximum impact. You cannot move forward if you do not know the direction you want to be heading.

Whether you engage in career coaching, leadership coaching, or executive coaching one of the first processes a skillful coach will take their coaching clients through is goal setting as well as a clear development plan for achieving them.

It is possible that you have a clear goal or set of goals in mind prior to starting coaching but you may also find that executive coaches who are experienced in leadership assessment and development planning have other suggestions that will facilitate even greater results and faster progress towards your overall vision. Therefore while it is good to have goals in mind it is also good to allow yourself to fully engage in the process.

Setting Goals From a Clear Vision

Early on in a coaching relationship, you should expect your coach to assess where you are and find out where you want to be. Eliciting a clear vision for the future to act as a focal point, as well as clearly defined goals to act as measurable outcomes against which progress can be monitored.

Senior leaders need a clear vision for the organization that is in alignment with their own personal values if they are to effectively inspire others and affect change within an organization. A vision is not a goal, it is broader than that and should excite and inspire people, but it is a good place from which to set goals that move you measurably and consistently towards where you want to be.

A vision and goals-based approach can also help to keep you motivated throughout the coaching process and improve your experience and outcomes. Clearly defining the desired future is an important element of goal setting not only in gaining clarity and focus around what the goals should be but in providing the inspiration, energy, and perseverance required for achieving your goals.

Whatever your developmental goals, having a clear desired future is vital for providing ‘towards’ motivation. Whether you are working on leadership development, organizational development or personal development a clear vision that excites and inspires you helps keep you moving forward in a positive and aligned way, as opposed to ‘away from’ motivation that often sees results drop off before set goals have been reached.

Coaching Goals Examples

The goals you set should be aligned to your values and moving you towards your vision as this gives both purpose and motivation. Goals may be driven by either the executive, the organization or both, but either way they should be focused, attainable (breaking goals down into more realistic smaller goals can be really helpful in building confidence and motivation), actionable (this is where strategy comes in), and measurable.

Coaching goals examples include:

    • Specific business objectives involving developmental targets for the organization. This could be increased profits, better staff retention, expansion or change management.
    • Improved performance in specific areas such as leadership, conflict management, or communication
    • Dealing with a specific situation perhaps achieving a promotion, building a team, transitioning to a new role or improving relationships.
    • Emerging talent development is another common coaching goal and organizations will often employ coaches not only for high-level executives but emerging leaders to empower them, build confidence and develop areas they may need for future roles.

Additional Outcomes of Coaching Engagements

While setting measurable goals such as S.M.A.R.T. goals is important for assessing the success and return on investment of coaching not all outcomes will be related to easily measurable business objectives.

Coaching clients often report far-reaching benefits. While goals might be focused on organizational development or leadership development of senior leaders for example. The outcomes could include improved soft skills such as emotional intelligence, influencing skills, communication, conflict management skills, and a more innovative approach to problem-solving.

As an executive you may wish to see greater profits of business expansion but what you are looking for from a coach may not be so easily definable and the results not so tangible. A skillful coach is an expert at bringing out the best in people and helping them to realize the full potential of their innate abilities as well as shining a light on their weaknesses and giving a different perspective on situations and being a sounding board to explore alternative outcomes.

This approach is very different from more traditional training and development and results in outcomes that often far exceed initial goals and expectations. So don’t be afraid to have a broad set of goals and objectives when working with a coach.

Ready to learn more about executive coaching? Let’s talk! We’d love to give you an assessment free of charge – call  (949) 260-0300 or contact us here!

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