How Long Should Coaching Last?

The length of a coaching relationship will depend on its purpose.  Coaching interventions can be episodic or developmental.  Each is described below.

Episodic coaching is usually brought on by a specific incident or event.  Episodic coaching involves a specific problem or challenge upon which a coach may work with a coachee for a relatively short period of time until the challenge is met.  This can be as brief as several weeks to a year.  Clarity of expected results and knowing when these results have been realized are important parts of any episodic coaching engagement.

Developmental coaching is a longer-term coaching relationship that is ongoing and without any particular time frame.  Many executives recognize the need for ongoing coaching to help them manage the complexity of their jobs.  They know that situations change, new challenges are always materializing, and ongoing coaching is essential to their success.  This relationship is open-ended and continues as long as there is perceived value.  Some executive coaches have been successfully coaching developmental clients for more than a decade

I will offer examples to illustrate both episodic and developmental coaching engagements.

George is the plant manager of a thriving manufacturing company.  His owner and CEO felt that George was caught up in conflicts between operations and sales, often leading to name calling and finger pointing.  His CEO hired a coach to help George manage this conflict.  Assessments revealed that George was a “pleaser” and avoided conflict.  By doing this, George allowed conflicts to fester and get out of control.  George had many assets; among them was the need for harmony.  Through coaching, George learned to leverage his harmony asset by bringing the conflicting parties together to air out their dispute.  The result was a successful resolution of the conflict and peace in the plant.  Rather than avoiding conflict, George learned to confront it in a non-threatening, harmonious way.  This was accomplished in five coaching sessions.

Peter is the CEO of a high-profile, family-owned-and-operated company created by his father.  The perception that he may have “inherited” his position often clouded his ability to demonstrate his own achievements.  He wanted recognition of his own contributions and often found his father’s domineering style destructive to his attempts to lead.  Over time, this issue abated and new challenges emerged about his team, growth of the business, restructuring sources of financing projects, coaching his executive team, breaking down barriers of departments that acted like silos, competition between executives, and working with siblings in the business.  He also learned how to manage his own liabilities by creating organizational support systems while leveraging his assets of networking and business development.  Today, he is recognized as one of the most powerful businessmen in his community.  Over the 20-year coaching relationship, many challenges were met, and both Peter and the company he leads have flourished.

This post concludes my blogging to amplify my recently published book, Executive Coaching and the Process of Change. But this is not the end of my blogging.  I will continue to post a weekly blog on executive coaching.  My plan is to transform this blog into an interactive dialogue by asking my readers to send me their coaching questions, challenges, and experiences.  I will respond to these requests in the context of my coaching model and process.  Future blog posts will be posted under the new domain name of “”.  Please send your thoughts about coaching to my new email address:

Thanks for your support. I look forward to hearing from you. I am certain your contributions will provide me with new opportunities for continued clarification and elaboration of the coaching process in this transformed format.

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