ATD Blog

Selecting an Executive Coach

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Choosing the right executive coach for you is important. There are many people who offer coaching services; some have completed formal training, while others offer specific business experience. Whoever you choose to work with it is important that you feel comfortable and confident that the investment will enable you to successfully achieve your goals.

Use whatever guidelines you feel appropriate—including your gut reaction! This is all about YOU, and only you can decide if the partnership is likely to be successful. However, be sure to consider the following elements as you search for your coach:

  • Chemistry – You need to feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, concerns, frustrations, and results achieved. You need to enjoy talking with this person. After all, you will be working together regularly for six to 12 months.
  • Credibility – Your coach should have a level of background and experience that will support the coaching process. This should include formal training as a Coach as well as any relevant business experience you feel important.
  • Confidence – Your coach should be self-aware, polished, and professional. They should be articulate and effective at listening to you. They should be able to challenge you; coaching is not about providing you with the answers that you want to hear and are safe.
  • Confidentiality – You should specifically discuss confidentiality with your coach. What will and will not be shared with your manager or other leaders in your company (even if you have personally hired the coach). A coach may use anecdotes from other coaching conversations, however, confidentiality should still be respected, and you should not expect your coach to mention client names or client companies specifically.

Most coaches offer an introductory conversation (there may or may not be a fee associated with this). This is an opportunity to interview your coach to assess if they will match your specific needs and expectations.
Questions you should consider asking prospective coaches include:

  • What formal coaching training have they completed?
  • What other qualifications or experience do they have?
  • What is their philosophy for coaching?
  • Have they coached people in your industry? At your level?
  • How will they assess your current strengths and weaknesses?
  • Which tools and assessments are they certified to administer?
  • How will your coach measure the success of the coaching with you?
  • How does the coach measure their own effectiveness?
  • What have they done to support their own continuing professional development?
  • Do they have their own coach?
  • How long does the coach expect the relationship to last?
  • What should I do if I don’t feel that the coaching is adding value?
  • How will confidentiality be handled?
About the Author

Morag Barrett is the author of the best-selling book “Cultivate. The Power of Winning Relationships.” She is also the founder and CEO of SkyeTeam, and dedicated to helping individuals, teams and organizations achieve extraordinary business results through leadership development and human resources management. Morag’s experience ranges from senior executive coaching to developing high potential individuals and teams, as well as working with FTSE 100 and Fortune 100 organizations. She is a highly effective speaker, trainer and coach for new managers and seasoned executives alike. Prior to founding SkyeTeam, Morag held leadership positions at Level 3 Communications, and NatWest Bank where she advised international organizations on their corporate strategy and growth plans. Originally from the UK, she has experience with a wide range of cultures and businesses developing high potential individuals and teams across the United States, Europe and Asia. Morag brings more than 25 years of industry experience and a deep understanding of the complexities of running a business and leading executive teams. Morag holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from De Montfort University, UK and received the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. She is also a recognized business coach for the Corporate Coach University and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the UK. When not at work Morag can be found sailing with her husband and three sons, playing the Bassoon for the Broomfield Symphony Orchestra, or Ballroom dancing!

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