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What Should You Look for in an Executive Coach?

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Photo by Michel Paz  on Unsplash

Executive Development through coaching

Business coaching is a powerful tool and lens that helps both hone performance now and proactively develop a leader to prepare for future-focused challenges or roles.

You’ve decided you want to engage a coach to help take you to the next level or you want to help a leader choose a coach that will inspire them to reach and succeed.

But now you have a decision to make. How are you going to sift through all the advice and ensure you – or your team – gain the most from the experience? And what will it look like, what will they do, and what will the outcomes be? Let’s look at some of the top questions to ask when you are considering executive coaching:

 

  1. Ask What They Want to Know About You

Interview a coach with an eye toward your business or personal leadership goals. Ask them about the approach they would take, and what tools they would use to help you increase that performance or work toward that goal. You are not looking for someone who tells you what to do, but shares examples of how they helped prepare leaders in similar situations. This could be through sharing what questions they asked, what assessments they recommend, and the goals they set together. I often see it recommended that you should look for a coach that you have ‘chemistry’ with and who has experience, or a degree, in the field which you are wanting to strengthen. But if you choose someone from that field, don’t fall into the trap of assuming a coach is there to tell you what to do. A coach helps a leader focus, consider actions, and develop a path to move forward – often by asking questions, and then more questions – not by telling.

 

  1. Consider their Credentials

More likely than not, the coach you work with will have some form of training. The International Coach Federation, in a study of over 1600 practicing coaches and manager/leaders, found that over 90% of those surveyed had received coach-specific training, and more than two thirds of those surveyed had completed 125+ hours of training specific to coaching. Similar to the question above, a coach is not there to transfer knowledge – such as a mentor might – but to work with you to provoke thought, inspire creative inquiry, help you maximize your potential, and help you see a clear path between where you are starting from and where you want to go. If credentials, or at least coach-specific training, is important to you, ask that question!

 

  1. Discuss Confidentiality, and who they would also work with in your Organization

Unless you are working with a personal coach outside of your organization, consider that if the coaching process is sponsored by your organization, your coach may also report back to HR or a board. This could actually be part of their contract – to report on outcomes, as well as to report how many hours spent coaching, with whom, and provide ROI to measure organizational success. Ensure you are confident in what they are going to share back, if anything. You may very well want them to talk to your boss, your co-workers, your direct reports as it could help you uncover blind spots, or strengths, and give them an insight into the business challenges you are hoping to address.

 

  1. Are they a good match for your style?

A coach can be totally different than you, or very similar in style, but what matter’s is this: Are they skilled at seeing and understanding your point of view, then challenging you to look outside the box or uncover your behaviors patterns? Moreover, are they effective at establishing trust? Are they thoughtful in their questions and examples? If you have the benefit of knowing your DiSC® style, talk to your coach about your preferences and ask about theirs. Ask what approaches they take with different styles, including what resources they would use to help you navigate and learn real skills for working with others and increasing your performance.

 

  1. What will you do? What are the expected outcomes?

Does your coach have a philosophy of coaching, and does it match your expectations? Are they clear on their process and how do they measure success? What are some concrete examples of what you will be doing in your sessions? What tools will they use? Let your potential coach know what leadership assessments or team development work you have done prior, or are currently doing.

 

  1. Be honest about what you want

An executive coach cannot help you cure a performance gap if what you really want to do is jump ship. Engage with the process of business coaching, and commit to it, but consider giving yourself the reward of introspection while meeting your performance goals.  

 

Coaching is not a one-size fits all approach. Coaching helps people become better leaders, exert more influence throughout organizations, maximize their strategic contributions, and move their companies forward. In addition to seeking executive coaching, an organization performs best when every level of leader is performing at his or her very best. Some coaching options that FlashPoint offers that your organization might explore are:

  • Individual Coaching – Works with all levels of leaders to prepare them for career advancement and to maximize individual impact
  • Outsourced Coaching Partners – An outsourced provider such as FlashPoint can offer a centralized process, more consistency, more alignment to goals
  • New Leader Assimilation – For a new hire or recently promoted leader, coaching can establish a solid foundation to engage both new leaders and their teams
  • Assessments + Skill Development – Leverage tools that help leaders increase self-awareness, improve skills, and coach others

Coaching to Outperform the Norm Case Study

Lauren Parkhill

Lauren Parkhill leads the marketing team in creating creative content that helps organizations develop their leaders and teams.

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