Owning the Agenda

I recently coached a senior leader who had never experienced executive coaching before. I explained that one of the key principles of coaching is that he chooses the issue he wants to explore – he sets the agenda. He thought about this for a while but still remained unclear on how he could make the most of the coaching. Then he said, “Can you tell me the top five issues that leaders you coach have wanted to explore in the past year?”

I replied that he may want to talk about something else, but I liked the question and shared, in no particular order, these top five themes from my executive coaching in the previous year:

  • Leading through ambiguity, uncertainty and change: How do I remain resilient and lead others through a period of constant change?
  • Improving strategic focus: How do I get out of the details and devote more time to strategic thinking?
  • Balance: How do I get the right balance between work and family, and between competing priorities within work?
  • Relationships: How do I manage challenging behaviours by a direct report or my line manager?
  • Future: Where do I see myself in the future and what steps do I need to take to get there?

I shared these top five themes and reminded him that his key issues may be completely different. I asked him which of these areas he felt he could benefit from coaching on. His reply? “All of them!”

What are your topics for Executive Coaching?