Dorothy Larios explains how non-executive directors and chairs can benefit from coaching and invites readers to take advantage of coaching sessions offered by HSJ

You are one of the chosen. As a non-executive director, you have been specially selected to be part of the senior board due to your rich and diverse background in the business, public or voluntary sector.

You are clear about what is expected of you with regard to strategy, governance and offering your experience and capabilities. You jump in eagerly, willing to learn, develop relationships and forge the way forward.

However, not everything is welcoming and wonderful. There are challenges, which are to be expected, but there are also unexpected pressures that could bring into question your own purpose, involvement and contribution.

Some common frustrations and pressures include:

  • lack of job definition;
  • an induction that is short, basic and, in some cases, sadly wanting;
  • lack of structure and support;
  • reluctance to include non-executive directors in constructive team-building;
  • no appraisal system for directors or the board as a whole;
  • personal issues with communications, cultural norms and petty politics;
  • stress, worry, anxieties and their effects on general well-being;
  • learning from experiences and growing with strengths;
  • conflict management and the art of communications.

Not every non-executive director has experienced exactly these issues and concerns, but all non-executive directors, directors, chief executives and chairs have something to gain from executive coaching.

What can you gain by receiving coaching from an external executive coach?

  • Your coach will help you stay on track and live up to the high expectations placed on non-executives.
  • Your coach will act as a confidential, neutral sounding board who has a professional interest in you and your fulfilment and success.
  • Your coach will help you establish boundaries and communications within your team and the committees you chair.
  • Your coach will help you establish boundaries and achieve work-life balance.
  • Your coach will help you reflect on your well-being, health and self-management.

So what are your options when it comes to coaching?

  • internal executive coaching;
  • external accredited executive coaching;
  • face-to-face sessions;
  • telephone sessions with email support in between;
  • group peer coaching with a trained facilitator;
  • external coaching with peers from other sectors or other health providers;
  • executive coaching retreats that encourage you to spend a few days away from the daily stresses and offer you time to reflect and ponder in peaceful settings, with your own executive retreat coach.

To read more about coaching and how it can help you, visit the Working Lives section of For more information on coaching, visit

Take part in a coaching session

HSJ is putting NHS non-executive directors in touch with professional coaches for an opportunity to talk through their goals and work dilemmas. Participants will discuss their issue in a telephone coaching session with a professional coach. A summary of the session will appear in the Board Talk section of HSJ. If you would like to take part, email with your name and contact details.