5 Essential Executive Coaching Tips for Beginners

An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-Winning Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback)

Illustrated by  Sutthiya Lertyongphati

Executive coaching is a process in which a coach works one-on-one, or in a small group, with executives to help them achieve their goals and improve their professional performance. At the outset, it can seem like an intimidating and daunting process, particularly for those who are new to it. However, with the right strategies and approaches, executive coaching can be incredibly beneficial, both for the executives who receive it and for their organizations as a whole.

We’ll be using the word ‘thinker’ in place of ‘coachee’/’client’ (a concept I’ve taken from Claire Pedrick’s excellent book, Simplifying Coaching), as that’s what the executives/students you are working with are – people who are encouraged by their coach to think deeply when creating their own goals, and who carefully craft potential solutions to any problems they may face in their professional lives.

One thing to bear in mind before we start is that executive coaching strategies can be used in multiple spheres of life: in business, when mentoring students and even in your role as a mentor for trainee teachers. In this post, we’ll take a look at some key strategies to keep in mind if you’re a beginner in executive coaching.

#1: Set clear goals

It’s essential to have a clear idea of the goals you, and the thinker, want to achieve through executive coaching. What specific skills or areas does your thinker want to improve? What outcomes do they hope to achieve? Before beginning the coaching process, it’s important to work with your thinker to set clear, achievable goals that align with their overall professional objectives. The initial meeting may simply be an informal ‘getting to know you’ chat. This will certainly help to initiate the rapport-building process.

#2: Communicate openly

One of the most significant benefits of executive coaching is that it provides a safe space for thinkers to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, identify areas for improvement, and craft strategies for achieving their goals. Through one-on-one or group sessions, thinkers can articulate their unique challenges and concerns and receive tailored feedback and guidance from a trusted third party, or from each other.

Effective communication is key to successful coaching. Be sure to encourage your thinkers to communicate openly and honestly with you, sharing their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. The more transparent they are, the better you can understand their needs and tailor the coaching process accordingly.

#3: Embrace feedback

Feedback is a crucial component of executive coaching, and it can sometimes be challenging to receive. However, being open to feedback is essential if you want to grow and improve your professional abilities. Be willing to accept constructive criticism and look for ways to apply the feedback you receive in your workbe that from your thinkers, or indirectly from colleagues your thinkers may be talking with. It can be useful to do some kind of anonymous ‘thinker reflection‘ if you have a small group (e.g., via Google Forms), or even to ask your group/individuals how they think the coaching is going. If you create an atmosphere of friendly, relaxed conversation, then the coaching process should flow naturally in an agreed direction.

#4: Work collaboratively

Coaching is a collaborative process, and it’s important to work closely with your thinkers to achieve any goals that have been agreed upon. Be willing to work closely with other coaches and seek their advice, engage in active listening, and be open to new ideas and approaches. See the recommended reading list at the end of this blog post for my favourite three books on executive coaching strategies.

#5: Encourage your thinkers to take action

Ultimately, executive coaching is pointless if your thinkers do not take action to implement the strategies and advice that has been discussed. Be proactive and encourage your thinkers to take the steps needed to achieve their goals. Even small steps can make a significant difference in their professional development.


In conclusion, executive coaching can be a highly effective tool for the professional development of the thinkers you are working with, even if you’re a new coach. By setting clear goals, communicating openly, embracing feedback, working collaboratively, and taking action, you can make the most of the coaching process and achieve your goals as a coach (and, ultimately, help your thinkers achieve theirs). Remember, the key to success is to stay committed and consistent in your efforts, and you’re sure to see positive results in due course.

Recommended Further Reading

Pedrick, C. (2021) Simplifying coaching: How to have more transformational conversations by doing less. London: Open University Press.

Reynolds, M. (2020) Coach the person, not the problem: A guide to using reflective inquiry. Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Jones, G. and Gorell, R. (2021) 50 top tools for coaching: A complete toolkit for developing and empowering people. London: KoganPage.

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My Top 5 Tips – From an NQT During a Pandemic

richardjamesrogers.com is the official blog of Richard James Rogers: high school Science teacher and award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management. This blog post is illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.

We’re facing tough times as teachers during a pandemic right now. In today’s exclusive guest blog post, Tayla Elson (who’s a UK-based Newly Qualified Teacher and Blogger) shares her tips for succeeding as an educator during Covid. Enjoy!

Hey! My name is Tayla and I was asked by Richard to write a short piece on teaching from the NQT standpoint. It is not my full intention to write from a pandemic standpoint, but as someone who lost half of my training year to Lockdown 1, barely survived face to face teaching in Lockdown 2 and is now teaching online during Lockdown 3 – it’s all I’ve really got. And it’s been hard. So, I wanted to used this time to give you my top tips, from a realistic standpoint. We haven’t got the privilege right now to talk inspirational classrooms and a roaming classroom presence so I’m going to try and be a bit more practical and honest. 

#1: Remember how you got here. Just like your peers you trained hard to get here, and no one trained for this, and we’re doing the best we can. A year on, it is easy to forget that we are all living through a crisis, we cannot be expected to work and live ‘as normal’ right now. So, stop feeling guilty that you’re not.

#2: Be Creative. This is probably one of the hardest things, both right now whilst we are teaching online, but also when you’re faced with a really difficult group. It always feels safer to teach in a simpler, easier way, but often times it is when I have been a bit more creative and daring that it has paid off the most. Teach in a way that gets you excited, especially with the groups that are the hardest to teach. Smile, show them you care.

#3: Teach the basics. It almost feels criminal to add this as a tip as it is something I have only just (stupidly) realised for myself, but I wanted to include it in case, like me, you just had no idea. We are there to teach our students, we often know our subject well, and of course we know we need to teach students how to behave. But after focusing on how to improve my behaviour management, a book highlighted something pretty obvious to me. We need to teach students what good behaviour looks like. For some students, they simply do not know what it looks like, so how can we expect them to just do it when we ask? So, I have included this in the list, teach them the basics. This will be my sole focus when we return to face to face teaching. The basics. Right from the start, the simplest of actions. That’s something they really don’t teach you in your training year.

“An AMAZING Book!”

#4: This is a career. Remember what this job really is, no one is expecting you to become an amazing teacher in your first year. That’s why they say it is the hardest teaching year. Comparison is the thief of joy. I often find myself comparing my own teaching abilities to those around me, those that have behaviour management in the palm of their hand, those that are organised beyond belief and those that have simply been in the school for a much longer time. THESE THINGS WILL COME. They just take time; this career is not a quick fix – accept it and work hard to improve in the long run.

#5: Breathe. If you’ve made it this far through the blog post without breathing, then I really suggest you take a deep breath right now! Some days will be hard, some days will be so hard you cry after your first lesson of the day, or you cry at home wondering what the heck you are doing trying to be a teacher. And yes, I am totally speaking from personal experience. This job is hard. But we’re all here for a reason, so just breathe through it and keep turning up. And remember: we are living through a global crisis, this is not normal. No-one is expecting you to work as it is.

So, if you’ve made it this far (and taken that deep breath we talked about) then I would like to thank you! Thanks for taking the time to listen to the panic-stricken reality of a very much bewildered NQT. I am currently an NQT at a secondary school in Worcestershire, teaching Geography as my subject specialism as well as some History to year 7. I write on my own blog, which you may have guessed is more ramblings, and tweet sometimes too.

We welcome you to join the Richard James Rogers online community! Join us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates, giveaways of Richard’s books, special offers, upcoming events and news.