10 Tips to Choose an Executive Coach

10 Tips to Choose an Executive Coach

How do you Choose an Executive Coach?

We are asked this question often.  Be careful!  Unfortunately, the Coaching industry still remains one of the least regulated in the world.  With the increase in demand for Executive and Business Coaches, there has been a rise in the number of people establishing themselves as Coaches without any relevant qualifications, training or experience.  You wouldn’t trust a brain surgeon to operate on you physically with no qualifications or training, so be mindful of the dangers of working on changing your mindset and behaviour with someone who hasn’t studied and been working professionally for a few years.

At Natural Talent we’re often asked to take over Executive Coaching Programmes for clients, who have fallen foul of some glossy websites with individuals promising to deliver what they are calling ‘Executive Coaching’ to a specific standard, but there has been very little demonstrable improvement or measurable ROI.  One of our CEO clients said that he had achieved more in one hour working with me than in over 20 spent with a previous Coach.   So, in order to avoid falling in to these traps and wasting your valuable time, energy, and money, to identify if an Executive Coach is likely to be effective in a specific area of expertise, firstly it is worth asking yourself the following questions:

Firstly, what exactly do you want to work on and achieve, and by when? 

Secondly, what type of Coaching are you looking for - Executive Coaching, Business Coaching, Outplacement or Career Coaching, or Life Coaching

If you are looking to develop relevant Leadership and Management Skills and Comptencies to achieve significant and lasting behavioural change and to improve your own performance and that of your team and the overall business, then you are looking for an Executive Coach.  He or she should be able to act as an objective sounding board to assist you in developing your leadership and management skills, from leadership judgement to implementing the business strategy.  The tools and techniques your Coach provides you with should enable you to practice and receive feedback in a confidential environment and deliver powerful and measurable outcomes.

Finally, once you have established what you want to achieve, use some of our own robust recruitment methods to check the Executive Coaches credentials and experience; we receive many approaches from Coaches who want to work for us, but we only tend to work with a few highly qualified and experienced individuals:

  1. Ask to see the Coaches’ CV, as often they will only provide you with a topline summary or profile, with no dates or previous career history or experience.  Ideally an Executive Coach should have a minimum of 5 years’ experience of working as a senior manager in a corporate organization in order to be able to fully understand the key challenges facing leaders and managers in industry.  If you want public sector experience, then check they have worked in this arena at senior level too.
  2. The key is to ask the Coach if they have a recognised Coaching qualification and don’t always believe what they profess to be on the web.  If the Executive Coach is qualified, they should have a minimum of at least 500 hours of relevant Coaching experience, which equates to working with over 30 individual clients, such as CEOs, VPs, Business Owners, Company Directors and Heads of Departments within blue chip or public sector organizations.  Ask how long the Coach has been working as a qualified Coach and ask to see a list of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development  Assignments, which will demonstrate a track record of supporting leaders.
  3. Find out if the Coach has worked for, or been trained by, any of the reputable global Consultancies.  If so, this will have tested their credentials, added to their portfolio of skills and experience, and will ensure they deliver best practice.  Also, ask what ongoing development the Coach is engaged in to be up to date with the latest tools, techniques and trends. 
  4. Ask if the Coach has any qualifications and experience in administering and providing feedback from Psychometric tests, Personality Profiles and 360 Feedback.  In order to be licensed to use many Talent Assessment Tools the Coach should be qualified in Levels A and B with the British Psychological Society.  Only then should the Coach be able to deliver feedback and develop a client’s identified key strengths and development areas.
  5. Ask what clearly defined, yet flexible, approach the Coach uses to achieve evidenced results; provide them with an example of a Coaching issue to be resolved and ask what leadership models, methods and tools they would use to solve very specific problems and to develop leaders.  Ask what outputs are likely from a SMART Executive Coaching Action Plan and how ROI will be measured.
  6. Coaching has to be completely confidential, however, you can ask the Coach to list their client companies and ask to speak in total confidence to at least two individual Coaching clients or their HR department to assess the effectiveness of the Coaches work. 
  7. Very importantly, check that they adhere to a set of ethics, such as the ICF Coaching Code of Ethics; be very wary of working with individuals, who haven’t established credibility and if in doubt ask them to sign an NDA before engaging them to work in your business.  Every Coaching relationship is based on mutual trust and respect. 
  8. Check out the Coaches website, Blog and LinkedIn Profile to verify qualifications and experience and to read client testimonials.
  9. Be wary of Coaches giving away freebies.  A well respected, qualified Coach will have a busy schedule and probably won’t be in a position to be able to offer a Coaching Programme of 16 Coaching sessions free of charge over a matter of weeks.
  10. Finally, meet with the Coach initially before the Coaching Programme commences, in order to check out their Coaching style and credentials in person, as well as to see if there is a good fit with your business and culture. 

If you are still in doubt about your requirements, desired outputs and who is a reputable Executive Coach, then please feel free to contact us.

We are looking to add to our team of highly experienced and qualified Associate Executive Coaches and Training Consultants, so if you have the relevant qualifications, skills and experience, please contact us.


About Jill Maidment

If you would like to know more about our Consultancy services or to book any of the following, please contact us:

Executive Coaching and Mentoring, Career and Transition Coaching, Business Coaching, Resilience Coaching, Life Coaching Retreats

Leadership Training, High Performance Leadership Development, Management Training, Leadership and Management Team Development, Board Facilitation, Coaching Academy

Executive Assessment, 360 Feedback, Face to Face 360 Feedback, Talent Management and Succession Planning