Setting SMART Objectives In Executive Coaching

Objectives Are Important In Executive Coaching

Setting objectives for oneself and with your coach are important in Executive Coaching. It sets out what both parties accept, what they will deliver together, what they will need,  and how long it will take to deliver. Setting the objectives early allows for a clearer executive coaching contract between the coachee / client and the executive coach.

Clear objectives also help reduce any potential complication that might arise where the coachee is not the client, that is to say where the executive coach is being paid by the company of the coachee. The company of the coachee wants to be clear what it is getting for its investment in executive coaching, and evidence from academic studies, show that having clear objectives result in higher Return On Investment (ROI) from executive coaching.

What are SMART objectives

When setting objectives, a good reference tool is the acronym SMART, standing for Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic & Relevant, Time bound


The objectives need to be Specific. Make the objectives pinpoint clear on what success looks like.


The objectives need to be Measureable. Make the objectives clear enough that success can clearly be proven to have been achieved. Set out how it will be measured.


The objectives need to be Ambitious. The objectives need to be stretching from the current behaviour or current attitude, otherwise there won’t be growth

Realistic and Relevant

The objectives need to be Realistic and Relevant.

If the objectives are too ambitious without any realism, then the objectives won’t be achieved, and the objectives will probably kill the will power of the coachee, as they will feel the objectives will never be met, so what is the point of the coaching sessions.

The objectives also need to be Relevant, as if they are irrelevant, then the objectives being alien to the coachee / client, and undermine their motivation for change.

Time Bound

The objectives need to be Time Bound. The objectives need to clearly state when the objectives should be achieved so the objectives don’t drag on and so we can focus on a deadline.

SMART Meaning Debate

Different people use different elements for the acronym. We’ve seen Ambitious become Achievable, or Time Bound to be Trackable. These are perfectly valid and depend upon the individual concerned. Our interpretation of SMART allows us to focus our executive coaching sessions

Executive Coaching SMART Objective Examples

The following are hypothetical examples of Executive Coaching. We are governed by our Executive Coaching Code of Ethics, which sets out the importance of confidentiality with our coachees.

  • By the end of the third coaching session, be confident in asking challenging questions to peers and senior leaders who do not adhere to clear and agreed company policies and procedures.
  • To develop a commercial strategy for the business, which the business commits to and executes with pace, by having collective agreement by 31st July 2016.
  • To develop a clear pathway for my business, which sets out a vision for the next 3 years by the end of February 2018, and motivates my employees and stakeholders.
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