You’ve decided—it’s time to hire a coach.
Maybe you or your boss have identified some areas you need to develop to leap into a role with more responsibilities. You might feel “stuck” in your current role or position, or you might sense that you’re a little directionless and need someone to help clarify where you want to go next with your career. Whatever the reason, an executive coach can be a valuable tool to help you untangle some of the internal knots, develop necessary skills, and help you prepare for your next role as a leader.
A good coach differs from a guide, personal booster, or mentor. While there may be a place for those people in our lives, a coach will help you set specific, measurable goals and work toward accomplishing those goals. Your coach will use a discovery process to help you identify areas of growth opportunity and the obstacles and challenges keeping you from your goals. While your coach will undoubtedly cheer on your successes and celebrate your wins, your coach will also give feedback to help you fine-tune and revise your patterns for maximum growth.
Here are four steps to help you choose the right coach to help you meet your goals.
1. Look at Credentials
Good coaches pursue credentials appropriate to both the general and specific needs of a targeted audience. Start by looking for a coach certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), or one with equivalent experience and credentialing, which may include things like graduate degrees or advanced coach training. The ICF has a free online search engine to help narrow your search within its extensive pool of executive coaches.
Beyond certification from the ICF, it may be valuable to look for coaches with additional certifications in an area of expertise. For example, executives looking to develop skills relevant to positions in healthcare may want someone who has an additional certification in that field.
2.Check for Specific Experience
Once you’ve narrowed your initial search, look for coaches with the specific expertise you need. Has the coach worked with leaders in a similar position to yours? Does the coach have a record of success in helping those leaders achieve their goals? What areas of expertise does the coach promote, and do those align with what you need from a coach? Is there a specific assessment you want to use that the coach has expertise in, such as Skills Finder or 360° Feedback?
It may be tempting to narrow your focus to only those coaches with experience in your industry or your role, but industry or role experience can be positive or negative, depending on what is needed. You may have a need for a coach who can quickly relate, or you may need a coach who can challenge you to think differently. Carefully consider the pros and cons of the type of experience you desire in a coach and what you actually need from your coach.
3.Interview Potential Coaches
This step is often called a “chemistry call.” Plan to interview at least two to three coaches before making a decision. Evaluate each coach based on criteria such as rapport, approach, and openness. Does the coach speak your language and understand what you want from a coaching experience? Can you talk to each other frankly and openly? Does the coach use an approach that will engage you and encourage you to put in the time and effort to make coaching a success? Is the coach committed to your success?
4.Plan Your Coaching
After you’ve selected a coach, it’s time to start planning! Don’t just dive into coaching sessions without first establishing a general path for the process. The coach should have a plan or method for helping to achieve your goals, which may start with assessments. What assessments will you use? Do you need to involve colleagues, direct reports, or superiors? How will the coach use the assessments? What is the timeline, and are you both clear on goals, expectations, and desired outcomes?
Once you’ve taken your assessments, your coach will help you identify the next steps. These should include action planning and regular coaching sessions. Depending on your goals, your coaching may incorporate feedback from your boss or colleagues. With your coach’s help, you will create your own Individual Action Plan to guide your progress and help you meet your goals.
The best coaching experiences begin with a careful selection process and thorough planning. Once you’ve created a strong foundation for your coaching experience, it’s time to get to work.
Stewart Leadership coaches tailor their approach to their client’s specific needs. With a five-step process that includes assessments, action planning, and regular coaching sessions, we help clients unlock their greatest potential.
- Have you considered hiring an executive coach? Why or why not?
- What is one skill, challenge, or obstacle that a coach could help you with?
- What is one step you could take to furthering your career right now? Could a coach help you with that?