Executive Coaching as a Niche for Psychologists


Dr. Chris Allen gave a presentation to psychologists at the New York State Psychological Association’s Fall Convention in Rochester, NY on November 1st, 2014, “Changing Gears.”  Executive coaching is a rapidly expanding field with more organizations and companies seeing the value of providing opportunities for growth and development to high potential employees, rather than just providing coaching to employees who are having problems.  Team coaching is also a growing area.  Finally, coaches are now expected to have a deep understanding of  brain-behavior relationships, attention and mindfulness, personality assessments, emotional intelligence, neuroplasticity, and communication skills.

Executive coaches often have a background in business or corporate America, sometimes have a coaching certification and/or an MBA.  Typically, Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologists contribute to an organization’s success by improving the performance, satisfaction, safety, and/or health and well-being of its employees in a fairly large scale manner. They may conduct research on employees behaviors and attitudes, try to improve hiring practices, training programs and management systems, but they are not usually executive coaches.

More and more psychological expertise is viewed as a positive for helping individuals and teams work on their professional growth and development, especially in the area of “people” skills and emotional intelligence.  Many employees who have been promoted to management or senior leadership positions have excelled in their fields technically and have been rewarded with a promotion to a management position.  However, oftentimes these individuals do not have the skills needed to be successful in these positions and are hungry for opportunities to identify and leverage their unique personality strengths, to learn how to motivate, manage conflicts and build successful teams.

Psychologists really understand the technology of behavior change.  Once they have some background in leadership, administration and business (which many already have), they are naturals for using exploration and assessment to help executives grow and develop capacity as leaders and managers.  Dr. Allen shared some basics about the coaching profession, about executive coaching specifically and discussed her path to becoming an executive coach.

The presentation was rated as excellent by participant (averaged 4.9 out of 5 on evaluation).  Dr. Elvira Aletta, psychologist/founder of “Explore What’s Next” in Buffalo, NY said:  “Her talk was amazing, probably the most popular of the full day program. She generously provided tons of highly relevant information, smartly used technology to share it and connected with the audience in a warm and inviting manner.”


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