Executive coaches represent a tremendous resource for both high-level executives and the companies for which they work. Their job is not to train an executive for their job – they’re already supposed to be fully qualified, after all. What executive coaches do is help good executives become exceptional executives through research, observation, candid discussion, practice, and feedback.

Executive coaches develop a custom program of observation, discussion, practice, and feedback for each client.

If your company wants to hire an executive coach for you, then you are to be congratulated. They clearly believe in you and what you bring to the table if they’re willing to make such an investment. But not every executive coach is right for every client. Here’s how to find the right executive coach for your needs.

First, Understand What Executive Coaches Can and Cannot Do

A coach can help the high-level executive excel in their job, assuming they are qualified and committed to doing that. But coaches cannot do the work for you. In order for the coaching relationship to be productive, you will have to first commit to the process, dedicate time to learning and practicing important skills, and communicate honestly with your coach.

A qualified coach can turn a good executive into an outstanding one, but they can’t necessarily get a derailed executive back on track. Nor can an executive coach rescue an entire organization that’s plagued with problems. But with a committed, focused client and a supportive organization, the results can be remarkably and measurably positive.

Learn What You Can About Prospective Executive Coaches

Executive coaches are not shy about sharing what they do and how they do it, so there’s no excuse for not thoroughly checking out the reputation and experience of any executive coach you consider working with. What is their web and social media presence like? What kind of thought leadership do they engage in? How long have they been coaching clients? Do they have experience in the industry or sector in which you work? Answers to all of these questions are important.

Ask About Credentials and Types of Clients They’ve Worked With

While there’s no “right” credential with executive coaches the way there is with, say, a brain surgeon, there are accrediting organizations, like the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches (ACEC) or the International Coach Federation. If a prospective executive coach has undergone training in an accredited training program, and has gained certification from an accredited organization, it’s likelier that they’re serious about their coaching career and not doing it as a sideline or a way to rake in more income.

Accreditation is an indication that an executive coach is serious about what they do.

Discuss How They Handle Confidentiality

Confidentiality must be understood by you, by your coach, and by your organization. If you can’t communicate honestly with your coach, you won’t get the best results. It’s important that your organization understand this too, and not expect your coach to divulge information you share with them. If there’s any question about this, the coach you are interested in working with can speak directly with your superiors or other appropriate people about the necessity of strict client-coach confidentiality.

Choose Someone with whom You Have Rapport

Finally, you should choose someone with whom you have positive chemistry. To determine this, you will need to meet with them. If meeting with a potential executive coach beforehand is impossible, then you should at least have a Skype or Facetime meeting. Ask plenty of questions, like the type of clients they have worked with, what relevant experience they have had in your industry, and what, precisely, the coaching contract will cover. While your coach should be compatible with you, they should not be a clone of you. You need someone who will challenge you, and if your coach is exactly like you, that might not happen.

I have decades of experience as a respected advisor and coach to executives at companies of all sizes, and have gained a reputation as one of the top leadership authorities and executive coaches in the world. In 2015 I was awarded the International Executive Coach Thought Leader of Distinction Award, and am one of only fifteen executive coaches in the world to have earned the Master Corporate Executive Coach (MCEC) certification from the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches.

My Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching blueprint for success has been engaged with over 250 leaders, including 25 global CEOs, and my former clients include the late Steve Jobs and former PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico. If you have been considering working with an executive coach, let’s talk.

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