So You Are Looking for an Executive Coach…

Beth Miller |

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Coaching no longer carries the stigma that an executive is “broken”. As we crossed into the 20th century, development of executives became more of a priority. My belief is that leaders in corporations realized that two things: the war for talent and an aging leadership put the organization’s future at risk. And, one way to fill the talent and leadership gaps that were looming was to develop their talent.

Currently it is estimated that approximately 33% of CEOs receive coaching according to a 2013 study conducted by the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, and The Miles Group. And it is thought the percentage of executives below the C Suite who receive coaching is higher than 33%.

So how do you find the right coach for your specific needs?

1. First identify what are your goals associated with coaching. Are you:

  • Looking to develop specific leadership skills?
  • Planning a career move?
  • Transitioning into a new position?
  • Wanting to develop interpersonal relationships?
  • Looking to improve your performance in your current position?

What ever your goal is, get very specific on what you want to accomplish.

2. Identify three coach candidates. Generally my referral sources are people who know and trust me.  They have either worked with me in the past or know someone who has worked with me. If you are employed by a large company, they may have a list of coaches they have used in the past. 

3. List the attributes and experience that you are looking for in a coach. And create a set of questions to determine if they have what you are looking for. An example could be that you are a senior manager with the goal of becoming a vice president. You have received the results of a recent 360-degree assessment, which highlighted an area you need to work on: managing accountability. So you would want to understand how a coach has helped others to get promoted and increase accountability with teams.

Interested in Learning More?

Looking for more information on coaching? Beth was featured

on About.com discussing informal coaching to improve employee performance.

Take me there!

4. Understand their process.  Most coaches have a specific process they use during a coaching engagement.  They should be able to quickly describe their process, why they use it and, what makes each step important?

5. Inquire about confidentiality.  All good and ethical coaches have a confidentiality clause but it has limits. Understand when a coach would break confidentiality.  For instance, my rule is that I will break confidentiality if my coach has shared with me the following: they have or plan to break a law OR they have or plan to hurt themselves or others

6. How will you know that the engagement has been a success? Some coaching goals are easy to measure such as getting a promotion.  Yet other improvements in the softer areas of effective communications, conflict management, and building trust are not as easy to measure. It is important to understand how success will be measured before starting a coaching engagement.

7. And finally but most importantly, will you be able to work with the individual over the next 6 months at a minimum?  You need to feel comfortable with the coach you choose. Is his or her style one that will encourage you to be yourself and disclose things that you might be holding back? 

Following these steps will provide you with the foundation to jump-start your coaching relationship and increase your odds in meeting your goals. If you or someone you know is contemplating engaging a coach, please share this article with them.

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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