You’ve decided to get some help from an Executive Coach. That’s great news because all the evidence shows that working with a good Executive Coach can positively transform your leadership effectiveness and results. But what makes a good Executive Coach? And how do you find a coach that is a good fit for you?
These are important questions to answer. But as coaching is an unregulated industry it can be difficult to identify the right coach for you.
Let me guide you through five critical components to picking the right Executive Coach for you.
When looking for a good Executive Coach – it’s best to think H.A.P.P.Y.
Because a good Executive Coach will have these five characteristics:
H | History – The right experience and background
A | Ability – Robust qualifications, expertise and ethics
P | Presence – Are they self aware, intuitive, dedicated to my success?
P | Personality – Are they credible, do they inspire me?
Y | You – It’s about you and not them
1 – History
The first thing you should look for is a history of success.
Because we all judge success differently, look for the type of previous experience that is relevant to you and your circumstances.
For example, if you are a small business owner a coach who has helped SMEs to grow in the past might be more suitable. But if you are an executive leader in a large business, you are more likely to benefit from a proven qualified Executive Coach who can work with you/your team to further develop leadership effectiveness.
Ask to see a coach’s CV or profile. Check out their digital footprint. Are there client testimonials online, or even video testimonials with more in-depth information.
Questions to ask
- What is it about your history that makes you the ideal Executive Coach for me?
- How does your history make you a good coach for our organisation?
2 – Ability
It takes more than just experience to make the grade as a good Executive Coach. It doesn’t necessarily follow that someone who has ‘been there, done that and bought the T-shirt’ will make a good coach. You need someone with significant personal development and training.
In fact, well-respected figures in the coaching world, like Sir Roger Whitmore, for example, argue that being an ‘expert’ in a particular sector can even hinder a coach’s effectiveness.
Coaching is not telling someone how to do something better. Rather, it is a transformational process on the basis that you are the expert in your field. A good coach will facilitate increased self-awareness, provide new perspectives and help implement powerful new ways of ‘being’. Working with a good coach can transform both your professional and personal life.
Unless an executive coach has invested heavily in their own personal and professional development they won’t have the skill, ethics, or the empirically-based research-backed approach that you require.
Postgraduate qualifications are necessary because Executive Coaches work at a deep transformational level with talented business leaders. They need to know that they are helping, and not causing harm.
Questions to ask
- What personal development have you completed to make you a better coach?
- What is your underlying philosophy as an Executive Coach?
3 – Personality
We all need someone to help us along our journey. Someone who asks the right questions; engages us without judgment; helps us understand ourselves better. Someone who challenges our thinking.
These traits are largely based on a person’s personality and character. And they are traits that a good Executive Coach should have.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, actually) Executive Coaches do not have tightly defined personality types. However, an important consideration is a coach’s natural inclination towards others. Good coaches are driven by a desire to improve and develop. They have a strong desire to help people, teams, or organisations to perform at their most genuine, authentic, best.
Good coaches bring powerful insight: a highly developed intuition is often a prerequisite. Skillfully they are able to quickly pick up on hidden issues, ask powerful questions and in the process bring welcome new perspectives. And they should be comfortable challenging and encouraging you from your very first conversation.
Questions to ask
- Is this coach interested in me?
- Did they surprise me with the power of their questions?
- Would I want to work with this coach?
4 – Presence
Executives are time-poor. When contemplating a coaching programme, they need to make an instant decision as to whether they are willing to invest the time and energy to work with a particular coach.
If an Executive Coach doesn’t have the presence or gravitas to create the opening required, then the first coaching session is likely to be over before it starts.
A coach’s gravitas and approach will cause the busy executive to pause, and provide an opportunity for the skilful coach to engage at a meaningful level quickly.
Questions to ask
- Would I like to spend longer with this coach?
- Are they making me think?
5 – You
All the above said, the most important part of the process of choosing a coach is you.
A good Executive Coach will ensure sessions are focused on your agenda, moving you towards agreed goals. Good coaches challenge whilst steering clear of judging or pushing their idea of the ‘right way’ to do something.
They apply organisational research and proven models with skill. They recognise when interpersonal dynamics derail performance. They understand how psychological factors drive improved effectiveness.
Being emotionally intelligent and self-aware is a key requisite of a good coach. If you feel you are not connecting with your coach, or worse, are competing then it suggests there is not a good fit.
Question to ask
- Was the session focused on me, or them?
- Did I feel I was competing for time, or was I given the space to explore my own thoughts and feelings?
History, Ability, Personality, Presence and You. Getting those right ingredients makes for a transformational coaching experience, dedicated to your agenda. The results will be self evident as you transform your own leadership/organisational development, performance and effectiveness.
So, if you find picking the right Executive Coach stressful, don’t worry, be H.A.P.P.Y.!
Mark Bateman is the CEO of WeQual Consulting. If you are looking for proven Executive Coaches for your own development, or for that of your organisation, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org