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How to Narrow Your Coaching Specialty – by Anita Stadler, PhD

Sep 26th, 2010 | By | Category: Business Coaching

Executive coaches usually have a wide range of experience, but knowing your specialty is also important.  Have you identified yours?  Being clear about your specialty is not only a basic marketing principle, but testimony to why God has called you to coaching.

Why it matters.  Knowing your specialty allows you to serve your clients most effectively.  Clients want to work with a coach who will understand their particular issues and who will ask relevant questions to unlock new perspectives.  Clients instinctively know that a coach’s ability to understand the complexities of their business environment will minimize the time they need to spend explaining what their professional world is like.  If the coach “gets” the context of their business and life, the coaching sessions can move from exploration to action more quickly.

How to clarify your area of focus.  As an executive coach, you probably have a wide range of business experience.  However, you probably feel you are more effective coaching in some of those areas than others.  Take the necessary time to pray about it and seek feedback from those who know you well.  Respond to your particular calling for that certain focus, not to everything you could do.  Be willing to say no to some areas in order to say yes to the areas that resonate best with your calling.

An example of narrowing focus.  This is not a simple process and the refinement continues over many years.  For example, over the last 28 years my corporate background has included a broad range of roles in finance, strategic planning, operations, information technology, technical training, management training, and leadership development.  Even within the broader discipline of leadership development I have done many things, but my focus has narrowed over the last 10 years.  I now focus on four areas to maximize my contribution to developing leaders.  Each is further focused for a particular aspect or type of client.  1) As a leadership researcher, I focus on researching how leaders develop and the role that coaching can play in that development, 2) as a leadership practitioner with responsibility for developing leaders in a large corporation, I specialize in creating customized programs that accelerate leadership development for high potential leaders, 3) as an in-house executive coach, I focus on coaching senior leaders and new vice presidents, 4) as a Christian executive coach in private practice, I focus on serving Christian business leaders who view their career as their calling and want to be intentional about how they leverage their influence for eternity.  For each area of leadership development I work in, I have identified the exact aspect that allows me to make a difference quickly and with maximum impact.

What’s your specialty?  Your area of expertise may already be obvious to clients from your previous business background, or it may still be unfocused if you have not been explicit about what type of client can benefit most from your coaching.  I have learned from personal experience the folly of making myself available to anyone for coaching.  Take the time to consider the many ways your background contributes to your coaching and then consider where God is leading you now to serve Him as a coach.


Anita Stadler, PhD coaches Christian executives in corporations who want to connect their career and their calling through her coaching company Horizon Executive Coaching.  She is also a full-time executive coach and leadership development advisor for a Fortune 100 corporation.  She can be reached at (714) 952-0995 or  For more information, see

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