What Does “Executive Coach” Mean?

On a recurring basis, we’re asked, “What does, ‘Executive Coach’ mean?”  For some coaches, it refers to the level others have to be at before they’ll be considered coaching clients.  In this instance, “Executive” means an individual or team’s role in their organization.  However, when we talk about “Executive Coaching,” we’re referring to the higher functions of the human brain.

The term is a business metaphor, suggesting our executive functions are something like the chief executive who monitors all of the different departments so the company can move forward as efficiently and effectively as possible. How we organize our lives, how we plan and how we then execute those plans is largely guided by our executive system.

Executive functions can be divided into organizational and regulatory abilities.

Organizational includes how we deal with the incredible amount of data in our lives which just keeps coming at us through email, visual images, relationships, the internet, etc., with each new piece of information demanding our attention, planning, sequencing, problem-solving, working memory, cognitive flexibility, abstract thinking, rule acquisition, etc.

Regulatory refers to how we live in the world, including when we do or don’t take action, self-control, regulating our emotions,  both consciously and unconsciously stimulus inside and outside us, while then both initiating and inhibiting behavior specific to each context, coupled with moral reasoning and decision-making.” 1  WHEW!  For instance, seeing a wonderful dessert in front of you may be tempting to devour, but your executive system might remind you that eating it would conflict with your inner goals, such as losing weight.

So, what do I do as an Executive Coach? I work with individuals and groups who want to live at their highest level incorporating everything they bring to each task, interwoven with their ability to shift and adapt depending on the situation (organization),  tied in with their best wisdom for the greater good of leading their entire team/organization forward (regulation).

Interested in learning more?  Let’s be in touch.  You talk, I’ll listen.

John LaMunyon, Executive Director
Headwaters Coaching

1With thanks to the researchers of the University of California Weill Institute for Neurosciences Memory and Aging Center