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7 Keys to Find the Best Executive Coach for You

Posted on April 14, 2022 at 3:55 AM

If you have thought about getting help from an executive coach, you are not alone. According to a 2013 survey by Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, 51 percent of senior executives reported they "receive coaching or leadership advice from outside consultants or coaches." 

There are many situations that lead people to get an executive coach. A new job, a new boss, a new challenge, a desire to build skills or fill gaps. Whatever the reason, finding the right coach is essential because the quality and style of coaches vary widely. Here are 7 keys to selecting the best executive coach for you. 

1 - Review Client Recommendations on LinkedIn - Customer testimonials and reviews are helpful, but how do you know if they are true and not fake? The professional networking site LinkedIn is very helpful here because the authors of reviews and endorsements are identified by their LinkedIn profile. It is easy to click through to see if the authors are real. The brief description of them that shows up in each recommendation can also let you compare the recommenders background to your own.

2 - Look for Expertise in your Industry/Profession - The industry or profession you work in has its own unique characteristics that have an impact on the coaching you need. The coach you choose should understand the unique things in your field. It took you years of hard work to build that expertise. Find a coach that has that same expertise so you do not end up spending your valuable coaching time training them.

3 - Seek Leadership Experience - Much of coaching centers on helping people work with or lead other people in the workplace. A coach who has been a leader of teams brings valuable lessons learned from their own experience that can help you work through similar challenges. The more people they have led, the more lessons a coach has learned about working with challenging people and situations. 

4 - Check Coaching Certifications - Some people market themselves as a coach even though they have no training as such. Look for coaches who have been certified by one of the respected organizations in the field, such as the International Coaching Federation and the Board Certified Coach credentialing organization. These credentials not only signify that a coach has training. They also require coaches to practice a set of professional standards, such as protecting clients private information. 

5 - Have a Test Conversation - Once you find a coach that meets the above criteria, the best way to test them is to have a conversation with them. Instead of having them describe what they do, ask them if they will coach you maybe 15-30 minutes through a through a real issue you are facing. That will give you a sense of what you would get if you hire them. A confident coach should be willing to have a complimentary chat for 15-30 minutes with a serious potential client.

6 - Sign a Written Agreement - A professional coach will structure a coaching engagement by giving you a written agreement or proposal to define the terms by which you will work together. The agreement should clearly define expectations for both the client and coach, including fees, length of time, cancellation policies, privacy, etc.. 

7 - Seek Performance Guarantees - Things like a money back guarantee for coaching can be tricky to work. Coaches will typically want some or all of their fees paid up front. You should be able to pay the fees in installments to manage your own risk. Perhaps the best way to make sure that the coach you work with will provide the services offered is to look for one with a good reputation that they will want to protect. Even better, find a coach with a public reputation, perhaps as an author or speaker.

Hiring an executive coach can be a smart investment in your own professional development and happiness. Making the effort to pick the right coach is a great way to get the most out of that investment. 

About the Author of this Article: Victor Prince is the #1 executive coach for financial services executives. He is also an Amazon Top 20 best-selling leadership author who helps organizations build leadership, strategy, communications, and critical thinking skills. Follow Victor on LinkedIN to access his 100+ articles on leadership, strategy, learning & development, and more.

Categories: Coaching, Career Planning