How to Select an Effective Executive Coach

Finding an effective executive coach can be a daunting and confusing task.
Coaching is an unregulated industry that has expanded rapidly over the last twenty years. Many people call themselves coaches, but are they trained experienced executive coaches?
If you are going to invest your hard-earned time and money you want to get results.

How do you know how to compare one coach with another? How do you know you’re not buying snake oil?
Read on and we will share the key qualities you need to look out for when looking to hire a great executive coach.

What makes a great executive coach? The basics

Your goal is to become the best leader you can be. Senior leadership experience for executive coaches is key to understand the challenges you face. Its the combination of leadership experience and quality coaching education that builds the best coaches. Would you take dancing lessons from a dance instructor who couldn’t dance?

Coach Education and Training

Does your coach have specific tertiary coaching psychology or psychology qualifications?

Your doctor went to medical school, your lawyer went to law school, where did your coach train?

The research literature is clear, coaches with a psychology or coaching psychology academic background deliver better outcomes for clients.

Many coaches do have a background in leadership, but their coach education is lacking. These coaches work much more effectively as leadership mentors rather than developmental executive coaches. You need an executive coach who understands the psychology of leadership development. Academic education and training in psychology is a must.

Evidence-Based Coaching Practice

Another reason to choose a coach with psychology background is their ability to be able to deliver outcomes. They must base coaching strategies and interventions on evidence from research. Coaches must be able to explain the science behind what they do. They need to understand what they do and why they are doing it.
If a prospective coach talks about ancient wisdom or their coaching ‘system’, special formula or using their gut instincts, hold onto your wallet.

• How long has your potential executive leader coach been coaching? Experience counts.

• At what level and in what industry sectors have they been working? First line leadership or C Suite?

• Does your coach have the required skills and experience to be able to navigate the complexity you may be dealing with from an operational, organisational, strategic and political perspective?

If you want coaching that deals with less complicated issues a less qualified coach may suffice but may also miss identifying other opportunities for growth and future development that might benefit you.

Coaching Supervision

Does your coach practice what they preach? All great executive leadership coaches have coaches themselves. In the coaching industry, we call these people coach supervisors.
Professional executive leadership coaches meet regularly with their coaching supervisor (A more experienced coach). During supervision coaches reflect and discuss on the appropriateness of current coaching strategies and direction for individual clients.

Coaching supervision means you have access to the skills of two executive coaches for the price of one.
Coaching supervision provides the coach with a space to discuss ethical issues, mental health issues or other matters. Supervision allows your coach to be more effective for you.
Having a coach supervisor is a key sign that your prospective coach is serious about delivering great coaching results for you.

Trust, Confidentiality and Understanding

Effective executive leadership coaching is built on a foundation of trust, understanding, and confidentiality.
It’s hard to trust someone you don’t get along with or who doesn’t understand you. Without trust coaching doesn’t work.
It’s the creation of an strong trusting relationship between coach and client that creates the perfect environment for self-discovery and growth.

The research demonstrates when clients believe their coach is in their corner and has a genuine desire to see them achieve, coaching is effective.
Great executive coaches contract effectively at the beginning the coaching relationship to ensure roles and responsibilities are clear. A good coach will provide a clear written coaching agreement to clearly define roles and expectations for all parties is imperative.

The agreement should clearly articulate the ethical standards that apply during and after the coaching engagement.
This is pivotal in building an environment of trust where your interests are securely met.

Where to from here?

Because there is no better way to experience something more directly than by doing it.
The best way to find out if you will work well with a prospective coach is to arrange a short trial coaching session. Most executive coaches offer a free thirty-minute initial trial session.

A short coaching session helps you to accurately experience the coach’s approach and style. This helps making a clear and informed choice of which coach will work best for you.
Discussing what chocolate ice cream might taste like is no substitute for eating and tasting it. The same goes for coaching, just try it.

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