Executive Coaching Circles

Hosted by HERS and Academic Search, a long-standing partner of HERS and leader in the executive coaching field, the Executive Coaching Circles program offers a frequently requested service—executive coaching. The Executive Coaching Circles program was designed to help strong, effective leaders be stronger and more effective.

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¹ HERS is a nonprofit organization. The Program Fee helps defray our technology and program facilitator expenses, as well as various administrative costs. Please review
our GuideStar profile for further information about our financials and nonprofit status.

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HERS workshop

Designed to help strong, effective leaders be even stronger and more effective.

What is executive coaching?

Executive coaching is a one-on-one or group process to benefit the leader(s) and their institution(s). Working with goals defined by both the leader and the institution, we use various methods, assessments, and feedback to develop the leader’s capacity for current and future leadership. Expanding the capacity of the leader necessarily expands the capacity of the institution to accomplish its goals. It is the focus on both leader and institution that distinguishes executive coaching from leadership coaching, which primarily focuses on the development of the leader.

Why executive coaching circles?

HERS has partnered with Academic Search to offer an accessible, affordable, executive coaching program that includes coaching by a Senior Executive Coach in a group of peers in similar roles and positions at different institutions. HERS and Academic Search approach executive coaching from a systems perspective and in the context in which the leader is leading. Leadership is learned through ongoing practice, assessment, reflection, and action. Thus, leadership always occurs in a particular context, leads to action, and has an impact to be evaluated.

Leading colleges and universities today is both noble and daunting work. We are committed to the effectiveness, sustainability, and well-being of presidents and senior leaders. We believe that both the interiority of leaders and the exterior demands of institutional leadership are complementary. 

- Program structure -

Key features of Executive Coaching Circles:

  • Executive Coaching Circles will meet monthly 8 times during the course of the program. Monthly meetings will be 2 hours and are typically held at or after 4 p.m. ET (schedule to be determined and set by each coach and circle). Additionally, each participant will have the opportunity to schedule a one-time individualized, sixty-minute one-on-one session with their Senior Executive Coach.
  • Participants will be grouped into one of 9 executive coaching circles comprising 6-8 participants each. See the list of this year’s groupings below.
  • Most participants will be grouped into circles based on similar roles and responsibilities, as indicated on their registration form. We will do our best to accommodate each participant’s preferences.
  • If a circle has fewer than 6 participants, HERS and Academic Search reserve the right to offer a proposed alternative grouping (e.g. a mixture of roles and responsibilities in a circle). In the case an alternative grouping is proposed, participants will have the option to decline their position for a full refund within 3 business days of notification.
  • Each Executive Coaching Circle will be facilitated by an Academic Search Senior Executive Coach (SEC).
  • Your SEC will prepare and send monthly agendas and prompts for discussion.
  • Executive Coaching Circles will kick off with a virtual opening program in August to introduce the program, executive coaching, the participants, and the SECs.

- Curriculum -

What participants learn:

Experience a confidential, strengths-based executive coaching group that will engage principles of peer coaching  

Be introduced and exposed to the concept and experience of executive coaching to learn what to expect and what to look for in subsequent one-on-one executive coaching experiences 

Gain access to executive coaching developed with accessibility and affordability in mind
Learn about how executive coaching can lead to effective leadership  

Create and sustain a community of support among peers in similar roles at different institutions

- Who Should Attend -

Executive Coaching Circles are designed for higher education executives at various leadership levels, including but not limited to vice president, vice provost, vice chancellor, or vice dean; assistant or associate vice president, assistant or associate provost, assistant or associate vice chancellor, or assistant or associate dean; and executive director and director roles. This program is aimed to help strong, effective leaders be even stronger and more effective, and become better leaders on behalf of their institutions. For a more complete listing of titles, see group descriptions.

- Circle Groupings -

Executive Coaching Circle groupings are based on similarities in roles and responsibilities among participants.* While participants will share similarities in role/responsibilities, groups will foster diversity of institution types as well as diversity among participants, thereby broadening the range of perspectives and insights brought to the circles and allowing participants to gain insights and learn from one another.

If you don’t see your title here or have questions about which group you should join, please write to us at hers@hersnetwork.org.

This year’s circles are:

  1. President Circle: This circle is designed for those who hold the title of President, Chancellor, or equivalent.
  2. Chief Academic Affairs Officer Circle: This circle is designed for those who hold the title of Provost or Vice President of Academic Affairs or equivalent.
  3. Chief Student Affairs Officer Circle: This circle is specifically designed for those who hold the title of Vice President of Student Affairs or equivalent.
  4. Chief Diversity Officer Circle: This circle is designed for those who hold the title of Vice President of Diversity, Vice President of Equity and Inclusion, or equivalent.
  5. Cabinet-level Circle: This circle includes those who hold the title of Vice President or equivalent and serve on the President’s/Chancellor’s cabinet (excluding VP of Student Affairs, VP of Academic Affairs, and Chief Diversity Officers, all of which have their own specific circles). Examples include: Chief of Staff, VP of Strategic Initiatives, Vice Provost for Global Affairs, etc. 
  6. Academic Dean Circle: This circle includes those who hold the title of Academic Dean.

7. Academic Associate Circle: This circle includes those who serve in the following roles within academic affairs: Associate Dean, Assistant Dean, Associate Provost, Assistant Provost, or Executive Director in academic divisions, schools, and other academic units (e.g., library, advising, etc.).

8. Administrative Associates Circle: This circle includes those who serve in the following role: Associate Vice President or equivalent in administrative/staff divisions outside of academic affairs, such as student affairs, business and finance, technology, athletics, advancement, facilities, auxiliary services, enrollment management, human resources, DEI, etc.

9. Administrative Directors Circle: This circle includes those who serve in the following roles: Executive Director, Director, or Assistant Vice President in administrative/staff divisions outside of Academic Affairs, such as student affairs, business and finance, technology, athletics, advancement, facilities, auxiliary services, enrollment management, human resources, DEI, etc.

*If a circle has fewer than 6 participants, HERS and Academic Search reserve the right to offer a proposed alternative grouping (e.g. a mixture of roles and responsibilities in a circle). In the case an alternative grouping is proposed, participants will have the option to decline their position for a full refund within 3 business days of notification.

- How Executive Coaching Circles Support Our Mission -

Higher education should exist on the leading edge of societal change, continually challenging itself with new ideas to actualize and new issues to solve. We strive for equity in higher education leadership because we believe institutions led by diverse voices are more dynamic and innovative, as well as more capable of solving both long-standing systemic issues and new issues as they arise. Equity is thus not an end in itself, but a means of creating stronger institutions that better serve and guide a changing world. It is for this reason that HERS is dedicated to ongoing support for higher education leaders, both through the HERS Network and through programs like this. As the world changes, HERS is on-hand to coach higher education leaders to meet those changes.