What to look for in an Executive Coach
Executive Coaching has seen a significant rise in popularity in the last 20 years. For organizations looking to improve the performance of their leaders or invest in high potential employees, Executive Coaches provide one-on-one supportive guidance to advance the employee’s professional growth. According to the Balance Careers, an Executive Coach will “ask questions, challenge assumptions, help provide clarity, provide resources, and yes, sometimes, with permission, provide advice.”
With the assistance of an Executive Coach, leaders or leaders-in-training learn to see themselves and others more clearly, grow their existing strengths, and achieve their goals. Specifically, these coaches advise on areas like enhancing strategic thinking, conflict management, and team building. The profession, however, is unregulated, so hiring an Executive Coach requires research and interviews to find the one that meets your professional needs and business performance goals.
How do you choose an Executive Coach to work with?
Most professionals are looking to “click” with a coach, or work with someone they are most comfortable with. While this is deeply important, consider the following topics when interviewing your potential coach:
Ask about training. You want a coach who has credentials. Look for a coach who graduated from a program credentialed by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The ICF ensures that coaches complete a certain amount of quality education, pass exams, and abide by a strict code of ethics. The ICF requires coaches continue their education and development, in order to maintain their credentials.
Ask what the coach’s typical process is. Some important pieces here are: How much time commitment is required? Will there be work outside of the coaching sessions? What are the communication guidelines? How often will you meet and how long will the coaching sessions last? What happens if the coaching is not working?
What is Success?
Ask how the coach will define success and measure it. Awesome coaches will let you know that they can offer you useful new skills, awareness and knowledge, and help you integrate what you have learned into your day-to-day professional life. A prospective coach should be able to describe very specifically how they have worked with others to improve their leadership, management, and/or business operating capabilities.
Ask the coach how confidentiality will be handled. This is huge. Confidentiality is a core part of the code of ethics of the coaching profession and should be an explicit part of the conversation when talking with prospective coaches. Good coaches make very clear agreements about confidentiality upfront with their coachees, and they keep those agreements.
Lastly, trained coaches are obligated to do deep inner work and development before they begin coaching others and have a commitment to their own continued journey. Think of this as the “Fitness to Coach.” This is how coaches bring new skills and ideas back into their own practices. Ask your potential coach how they do this for themselves.
No matter your goal or need, an Executive Coach can help you take your leadership game to the next level, and asking the right questions to find the best match for you is the first step to get you there.
Want to learn more about how to level-up with an executive coach? Get in touch.
The Balance Careers: A Manager’s Guide to Coaching for Executives