Executive Coaching is Change Management

“The change of one simple behavior can affect other behaviors and thus change many things.” ~ Jean Baer

Coaching is Change Management. According to the world’s leading change management experts at Prosci, all change happens at the individual level, one person at a time. Executive business coaching is also an individual change process.

Change follows a process Prosci calls ADKAR®. Prosci’s ADKAR® stands for:

  • Awareness of the need for change.
  • Desire to make the change.
  • Knowledge of how to do whatever is required by the change.
  • Ability to make the change.
  • Reinforcement to stick with the change and not revert back to the old behavior.

ADKAR® is most commonly used to explain how individuals adapt to organization-wide change. It is the same process executives must each travel to benefit from coaching, which is a change process to bring about their desired changes in behaviors or thought processes.


Someone who works with a coach, must first become aware of the need to make changes. We often use 360 degree feedback from peers and employees to help identify areas and opportunities for positive change. Perhaps an annual performance review did not go as expected. Missing a promotion or job can also spark awareness for a change. Not feeling on-purpose or like any of the executive’s contributions are meaningful or significant, can reach the level of awareness of a need to make a change.


Desire is finding the internal motivation to want to make a change in one’s behaviors or thought process. Does the executive want the goal or result of the change more than the comfort and predictability of the status quo? Sometimes a situation provides a “burning platform” where one is forced to make a change, because staying in-place is no longer an option. For coaching to achieve results, a client must desire the end-goal or results enough to actually make the required changes. Coaches are skilled in helping people find the right motives and to reframe thinking to encourage clients to desire to change.


What new skills or mastery of existing skills and knowledge is required for the client to be able to make their desired change? Coaches often help clients to craft learning and development plans and can serve as safe practice partners for executives as well as provide observation and candid feedback on client’s behaviors. One cannot successfully change a behavior, if one does not know how to do the new behavior and feel confident in how well they do the new behavior.


There can be a performance gap between knowledge and ability. A coaching client may know how to do a different behavior in theory, but be incapable of execution for some valid reason. A coach can help a client determine if a barrier to change is truly a “can’t” or “not willing to” situation. Often practice and creativity taps into a client’s previously unknown capabilities and enables them to do the new behaviors.


Is the change trip worth taking for the client? Is the gain worth the pain of learning and practicing a new behavior and the inevitable shot to one’s ego and pride? A coach helps hold clients accountable for sticking with the clients’ desired changes and acknowledges progress and improvements as well as points out backsliding. Going back to the old habit, is an old and highly effective habit. Coaches accompany clients until the new habit becomes the only way to do the new thing.

Don’t Go It Alone

Adapting to a change in one’s professional life is always a struggle and often leads to discouragement and frustration due to setbacks and backsliding. A coach is your personal resource to help you get inspired to make the change and also to find the traction to make the change stick. A coach can save you time, by helping you see what you cannot see and offer feedback and encouragement for improved performance. If you desire to make a change for the better in your effectiveness as a strategic leader, I would love to help you up! Let’s talk putting about ADKAR® in-action for a change.

For more information on change management, see “Change Management: The People Side of Change,” by Jeffrey M. Hiatt and Timothy J. Creasey. Available at Amazon.

© Prosci 2018. All rights reserved. ADKAR and ADKAR terms are registered trademarks of Prosci, Inc. Used with permission. www.prosci.com