An executive coach needs empathy to see the world as their client’s do. It’s not just “do this, do that”.
Behavioral ecologist Jakob von Uexküll invented the notion that while our immediate environment is what it is – each of us sees and senses it differently depending on many factors, physical and psychological intertwined, not surprisingly.
Take the example of a woman walking her dog on a downtown street. While the woman will notice and react to things that interest and confront her; people, store windows, hazards in her path. The dog, differently, will revel in the wide variety of smells on fire hydrants, coming from restaurant exhausts and emanating from the sidewalk. Each could be floating in their own ‘bubble’ along the sidewalk one above the other.
This notion of seeing the world as if you’re in a different ‘bubble’ also helps hunters. Imagine hunting a bear thru a forest. It would be best to get in the bear’s head; understanding how they think and react to every stimulus. That would certainly be better than using your own experiences to judge what the bear will do. Likewise a coach who helps a client based on their, the coach’s, experiences, is not doing it right.
So I’m motivated to understand what my client is feeling. I want to know what makes them confident, scared, anxious, happy, etc. etc. etc. It’s hard and rewarding work. You can try it in many conversations you have.