How To Choose The Ideal Executive Coach For You
In a previous piece, “Why You Need To Hire A Coach in 2015,” I discussed the importance of working with a coach and why it can be a valuable and rewarding career-advancing action. Hopefully, I have convinced you to work with a coach. In this installment, I share tips for selecting the right coach for you.
In the spirit of this article, I reached out to some of the best executive coaches I know and asked them to coach me on the process of choosing a coach. Here’s premium advice from the experts.
Kathy Caprino, an international success coach based in Connecticut, dedicated to the advancement of women in business, says:
- • Talk to the prospective coach for 15 minutes as a way to gauge your chemistry. Check in with how you feel right after the talk. A good sign is if you feel really excited and inspired by your discussion, but a bit scared. This typical means that you're inspired to grow, ready to commit to the process, but part of you is "scared" because you know there will some stretching involved. That's a good sign, indicating the coach will facilitate moving beyond your comfort zone (which is essential if you want growth).
- • Find a coach who's done what you want to do in the world. Don't buy into that myth that the coach doesn't have to know a thing about what you're trying to do. If you want to make a million dollars in your new business, for instance, don't go to a "life coach" – go to a coach who possesses deep entrepreneurial experience, has lived what you're trying to do, and has had great success. If you want to transform your career, go to someone who's reinvented theirs successfully and has helped hundreds of others do the same.
- • Finally, check out their thought leadership. What does it say about them? Do you love their website, their LinkedIn profile, their articles, their guest posts, and other components of thought leadership? After watching their videos and reading their material, you should feel like you simply can't wait to work with them.
- • Get a sense of their "energy." Every coach, and every person on this planet, has a certain style, approach, worldview and energy to their work. Make sure it's a good fit with your style.
Breck Arnzen, Boston-based executive coach and CEO of Arnzen Group, suggests you look for a coach that meets these criteria:
- • Experience coaching people at your level and above.
- • An advanced degree in human relations or a related field. In some instances a degree in psychology could be valuable, along with expertise in areas that are important to you. Also, look for a coach with certifications in personal and leadership inventories and assessment tools like MBTI, FIRO-B, 360 Instrumentation.
- • A clearly defined, yet flexible, coaching approach that achieves results.
- • Skills in deep listening, asking probing questions, identifying underlying patterns of behavior, and the ability to model key leadership behaviors such as effective relationship building, emotional intelligence and establishing trust.
- • An understanding of business principles and organizational dynamics.
- • A collaborative style that will work with you and with your HR staff, as well as line management, if applicable.
- • The ability to clearly set expectations and define “what falls outside” the scope of a coaching engagement.
- • Referrals and testimonials from past clients and/or colleagues in the coaching field.
Former ICF President and Leadership Coach Karen Tweedie, who is based in Melbourne, Australia, recommends you first look for an ICF credentialed coach, then:
- • Decide what you are up for! Do you want your coach to understand you or do you want him or her to shake up your thinking? The answer to this question has implications for the type of relationship you are seeking from your coach. Choosing someone like you for your coach will make you feel understood and often is very useful for validating your thinking. A coach with a more challenging style will likely unsettle you and force you to confront a few things. Both types of coaching relationships can be extremely helpful, and which one you choose to engage has a lot to do with what is currently going on in your life and the existing supports (or lack thereof) that you have.
- • Yet the truth is that wherever the coaching relationship starts, as the coaching progresses, any good coach will understand you and validate much of what you are doing and challenge you and shake up your thinking! If you find that you are not getting a good mix of all three, then you might need to renegotiate the relationship you have with your coach.
- • Decide if you want your coach to be someone who has the same experience (in role or industry or training) as you, or someone from outside the field in which you are working. Unlike corporate consulting, coaching is “content free,” not a place for the coach to provide you with detailed business advice and opinions, this is an interesting decision to make. If you choose a coach with a similar background to yours, who may have faced the same challenges as you in a similar context, then they are well equipped to support your thinking from that experience. This could take the form of them challenging you to think through specific aspects of your role, and probing your ways of dealing with scenarios that are familiar to them.
- • If your coach does not have the same background experience as you, their way of supporting your thinking will obviously be different. The coach in this situation would prompt you to think more globally about issues that challenge you. She or he may guide you to look at your situation through the universal dynamics of people, relationships and communication rather than by way of the specific context. Again, a good coach will support you in both ways, but it is important for you to be an educated consumer so that you can negotiate with your coach to achieve the right sort of coaching engagement for you.
One of New York’s leading executive coaches, Ora (a.k.a. Ora Shtull) says " Identifying the right coach is not about simply finding a good fit. There are many people we like, or feel a fit with. Getting a friendly vibe from a coach won’t necessarily correlate with tangible impact on your professional growth. Instead, look for “fit for purpose.” Ask yourself: Can this coach help me achieve my professional growth objectives in an enjoyable way? More specifically, to figure out if there’s “fit for purpose,” in your introductory meeting with a coach, seek answers to these questions:
- • Does the coach exude a brand of professionalism that I respect and a style that I’m comfortable with?
- • Is the coach capturing both my strengths and opportunities with her questions?
- • Can the coach articulate her model of coaching and examples of how she’s helped other executives thrive professionally?
If what you observe and hear resonates with both your heart and your mind, then you’ve found your ideal coach, says Ora.
These four coaches have offered a variety of time-tested perspectives. I have had a lot of experience working with coaches, both through my company’s personal branding certification programs and as a client. I’m living proof that finding the right coach is an invaluable way to get clear about your goals, achieve success, and increase the joy in your life.
Follow me on Twitter and check out my latest book, Ditch. Dare. Do! 3D Personal Branding for Executives.
This articel originally appeared here