Successful executive coaches don’t typically spring fully formed from bachelor degree programs. Although there are no set requirements for becoming an executive leadership coach the way there are for becoming a CPA or doctor, coaching training programs are fairly easy to find.
Success in the field of executive leadership coaching often grows from a strong background in business. Many people make the transition from HR professional to coach, or from successful executive to executive coach.
However, executive coaches may come from just about any background, including STEM, healthcare, teaching, or even sports coaching. Whether executive leadership coaching is a good career choice depends on several factors. Let’s talk about some of them.
A Day in the Life of the Typical Executive Leadership Coach
If you want rock-solid predictability in your day-to-day tasks, then executive leadership coaching is probably not for you. On some days you may see clients in person, or meet with a company’s senior executive staff. On others, you may speak with coaching clients over the phone or on Skype. Another day, you may administer evaluation tools to clients and score them to learn where you’ll be starting with that client.
With executive leadership coaching, you’re not trying to change who people are into some prototype of the “successful executive.” Rather, you’re helping them tap into their strengths and understand the mindsets and habits that sabotage their efforts, according to coach and trainer Sandra Richardson.
Both Coaching and Business Skills Required to Succeed Professionally
If you are to make a career out of executive leadership coaching, then you must accept that not only will you be coaching clients, you will be running a business, with all that entails. Therefore, if you lack basic business skills, you will have trouble making your career work even if you have outstanding coaching skills.
This is the reason that many mid-career and later-career professionals integrate executive leadership coaching into their existing careers, or gradually make the transition from being, say, a counselor or business leader into being an executive leadership coach.
Tips on Succeeding at Executive Leadership Coaching
First of all, you must consider executive leadership coaching within the context in which you want to practice. For example, you will need to approach your career differently if you’re in New York City than if you’re in Mumbai or Beijing.
Second, consider coaching certification from an accredited provider to be table stakes. Certification should be considered necessary, but not sufficient for succeeding in the field of executive leadership coaching.
Finally, be aware that succeeding as an executive coach takes time. People tend to derive the most satisfaction from coaching when they view it as a noble profession rather than a moneymaking venture. That’s why so many people do coaching part-time at first, before transitioning into a full-time coaching career.
Know Your Parameters When Choosing Among Training Programs
Having executive leadership coaching credentials from an accredited program is important, but there are many from which to choose. How do you know where to start? First, you must be realistic about your parameters. Can you afford to take several months to a year off to pursue training, or do you need to integrate training into your existing life by taking courses online?
Second, you must thoroughly examine executive leadership coaching training programs as well as the people or organizations behind them. Anyone can set up shop as a coaching training organization, but that doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. That’s why organizations like the International Coach Federation (ICF) offer accreditation so that participants can be confident the programs they pay to pursue are worthwhile.
Executive leadership coaching really is a noble profession, and the people who succeed at it and who are recommended by former clients are the ones who pour not only their skills into their work, but also their hearts. Executive coaches may come from a variety of backgrounds, and that can be an advantage. If you have a strong background in, say, STEM or healthcare, you may be able to tailor your services as a specialized executive coach and succeed in that industry.