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3 Steps for Choosing an Executive Coach That's Right For You

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It is my frequent experience that most people who are provided or are seeking an Executive Coach, are not well equipped to know how to make a strategic decision about selecting a coach. 

It makes sense that this is challenging as most clients I have worked with have never experienced executive coaching.  They don’t have any experience to refer to and there is no ultimate source of how to select a coach to refer to should a busy leader invest the time in researching this. 

Executive coaching is a big investment.  It will not only cost money, but for busy leaders, coaching time will compete with the multitude of things on your to-do list.  As the number of executive coaches entering the market grows every day, how can you ensure you are choosing an executive coach for you that will give you the best return on your investment? 

Follow these steps to ensure you make a smart choice for when you select an executive coach that is right for you.

Step one: Pre-requisites for selecting a coach

Start with the basics. Most of these data points can be found on a coach’s bio or LinkedIn profile.  Corporate coaching emerged as a viable service about 30 years ago.  It is realistic nowadays to find many seasoned executive coaches who have been practicing for 15 or more years.  The more coaching experience a coach has, the greater the likelihood is that the coach has worked with client’s similar to you. Review their profiles with these questions in mind:

  • What qualifies them to be an executive coach? Examples:  Training, experience doing coaching as their full time profession, and diverse education on developing human potential.
  • Have they coached people in your industry? At your level?

Step two: Plan your coach interview. 

Questions to increase your knowledge of the coach to ask in a 45-60 minute interview:

  • Describe the coaching process they recommend. Make sure it is clear to you how this will help you to achieve your goals. Does the time required seem realistic?
  • How will they assess your current strengths, weaknesses, motivations and other aspects of your leadership style that relates to your coaching goals?
  • How will your coach measure the success of the coaching with you?
  • How does the coach measure their own effectiveness?
  • How will confidentiality be handled?

 Step three: Factor in your personal style

Take a look at yourself and consider how your style will play out in a coaching relationship.  This will help you evaluate if the synergy with the potential coach is a good match for your style.

What are the qualities of your style that could impact how you partner with a coach?  Download my free e-book to explore how your personality can shape your coaching experience.  Identify some themes that ring true about your style and ask your coach how they have worked with people who share similar qualities. 

For example, if you value strength and grit, you likely won’t be afraid to dive into self-exploration and development. You may work best with a coach that will meet your intensity and your ability to immediately zero in on the problem areas, but also one that will recognize how infrequently you like to feel vulnerable.

If you value and embrace improvement and self-development, you may work best with a coach who can leave you with a concrete, clear list of “to-dos” so that you may feel your time was invested in practical, concrete results, not just open-ended reflection and conversation. While reflection and exploring your feelings are important and necessary aspects to coaching, if there are not enough actionable items for you to work on, you may feel that the coaching was a waste of your time.

Being upfront about these expectations can help not only differentiate which coach is best suited to work with you and once you begin, make sure you and your coach are getting the most out of your sessions.

Download our "How to Pick and Work with an Executive Coach That's Right for You!" E-Bookwhich dives into more of these examples of types of client/types of coaching pairings. 


Following these steps will give you a thorough understanding of a potential coach’s background, style and approach.  How to pick an executive coach comes down to what type of coach they are, what type of client you are, and what you’re hoping to gain out of your sessions.

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