Coaching series 3: How do I find the right executive coach for me?


in Coaching

In series 2 we looked at what happens in a coaching session through our senses and the very real impact it can have on you in your role as leader either of others or yourself. If we bring this together with the knowledge of what coaching is, the next step surely is to engage with a coach?

Yes of course, but where, who and how? The industry of coaching and especially executive coaching has grown exponentially with over 350,000 listed on LinkedIn alone and the ICF (International Coaching Federation) having 33,000 certified coaches. This is an unregulated industry so using your coaching budget can feel like placing your “chip” on the roulette wheel with no guarantees if you don’t have a strategy to engage a coach.

Finding your coach can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, approach this just as you would with other professional resources such as finance, marketing or HR. To start you off there are three main coaching bodies; Association for Coaching   The Coaching Federation and the European Mentoring and Coaching Confederation The ICF even has their own directory call the Coach Finder for their organisation.

Look to your trusted network, do they have a coach, or does that coach have recommendations for you of either an individual or indeed a professional group that can make considered referrals to suit you. Does your business already have existing providers and relationships that you can explore first?

Once you have a long or short list of recommendations, do your research! Does it feel like a fit to you and your business and most importantly what is their accreditation either formally through study and practice or through the active coaching work they do. Every qualified coach works to a code of ethics and ideally should be coached and supervised themselves. So ask these pertinent questions to understand if this is what they do to support their own development. Coaching is a lifelong endevour, that takes practice and commitment. Coaching demonstrating investment in themselves is an investment in you.

Next, its time to engage and talk to seek clarity and answers to questions. Arrange time to speak and meet, to have what’s called a “chemistry” or “introduction” meeting. This may vary from 15 – 60 minutes and shouldn’t have a cost attached. They are no obligations on either side even if it is sponsored by your company. This is invaluable time to establish a rapport versus a friendship, a trusted and supportive coaching relationship with boundaries which isn’t necessarily code for friend. A coach can and should be ethical enough to say when they believe there is a better match elsewhere.

Ask all the questions you want but be prepared to have to answer some yourself; where are you now and where do you want to be?

Consider your budget. You are potentially spending a sizable proportion of your people or your own budget and being able to measure the impact of the coaching will be fundamental.  Coaching programme costs and coach’s fees can varying dramatically so ask what the total cost is and how this is broken down.  Fees can appear to be very high, but a good coach can explain how this relates to their experience, the ongoing costs inherent in coaching through membership, supervision and the coach’s work outside the in person sessions. Consider also what you want the return on investment to be, either in monetary terms or percentage, is it aligned to personal performance metrics or company performance.

Weighing all these up will guide you to a considered place where you can embark on what is often a very personal and transformational migration to new thinking, new behaviour and new performance for you, your team and business.

Remember use heart and head and a questioning spirit and you will be on the verge of tremendous and unexpected growth.