Executive or Leadership coaching is nowadays widely offered in organisations. Employers know the benefits of investing in developing their leaders and employing a coach is one of the best ways of doing this.
What Makes a Good Leader?
Good leaders need to be self-aware, emotionally intelligent and have excellent interpersonal skills. The leaders who develop such qualities fair far better than those who have risen to the top due to high performance in their respective fields, but do not have the qualities needed to lead a team. Leaders of people need to know how to do relationships. This includes setting boundaries, being assertive and knowing how to communicate well with their peers and staff.
Psychotherapy is all about relationships – to self, others and the world. In psychotherapy, we learn to understand ourselves on a deeper level. This translates into knowing how we impact and are impacted by others. The aim of self-knowledge is to become more perceptive about patterns we repeat that are unhelpful or even harmful to ourselves and those around us. This extends to relationships at work, where the leader has a responsibility to shape the culture of an organisation and create an environment where people have the best chance to perform well.
The leader and their staff‘s performance directly impacts the success of an organisation, which brings us back to the importance of good interpersonal relationships, communication and self-knowledge, especially when what is required is seeing and working with what lies beneath the surface.
What is the Difference Between Psychotherapy and Coaching?
Psychotherapy and leadership coaching are two distinct professions, each with a with their own set of skills and training. However, coaches with psychotherapy training under their belt are in a good position to coach executives due to their in-depth training in psychological theories and processes. Psychotherapists are trained on what makes people think, feel and behave the way they do. This knowledge can be directly applied to organisational and team dynamics.
However, this does not in itself make any psychotherapist into a skilled leadership coach. Coaching leaders in the context in which they are working requires training, knowledge and experience in the field of business and as well as psychology. It also requires an ongoing interest in both, and the drive to constantly learn.
Psychotherapists who work as coaches also need to know how the two differ and where they overlap. No one wants to engage in coaching and end up receiving psychotherapy instead, or vice-versa. Executive coaching is work focused, usually time-limited and takes place less frequently than psychotherapy. People engage in coaching usually to work through challenges they are experiencing at work, to develop themselves in their role or to explore changes in their career. Finally, psychotherapy and coaching can take place alongside one another, with two different professionals who will support the client in distinct but possibly overlapping areas of the person’s life.
Sam Jahara is a UKCP registered Psychotherapist and Tavistock trained Executive Coach. She has a special interest on the impact of unconscious dynamics at work. She was born in Brazil and lived in Germany, The Netherlands and Australia. Sam currently lives and works in the UK and sees clients from her Lewes and Hove offices as well as online. You can get in touch with Sam directly via her profile.
Further reading by Sam Jahara