How to hire the right executive coach

The best way to find a coach is to get a referral from a friend or colleague. They can give you so much more (and more useful) information than a website, so ask around before you start researching on your own. Once you have a few suggestions from peers or potential coaches that you’ve found online that you like, look into their:

Background

  • Make sure they have the appropriate training, experience, and certification to do their job.
  • You can also check their LinkedIn page or website to see what credentials and expertise they have.
  • If this person is employed with a firm, you might have to do less research on their individual background if it’s a reputable firm.

Area(s) of expertise

  • Remember when you jotted down notes about whether or not you needed a coach, and what you wanted to get out of your coaching experience?
  • Those notes should now help you narrow down what kind of executive coach you need. Some people specialize in startup leaders; others are more corporate. Some are all about helping with people skills, whereas others know all about one area of leadership like hiring, culture, managing boards, etc.

Previous work history/experience

  • It’s really important to know, beyond education and credentials, what your coach is capable of handling.
  • Ask for references of people that they’ve worked with so that you can get more information about the candidates you’re considering.
  • Look for coaches who have worked with people in positions that are similar to yours. Pay particular attention to what industries they have knowledge of and experience with. You want to hire a coach that will understand your specific issues and concerns, so it’s best to find someone that either has first-hand experience in your field and position, or has helped individuals in that field and/or position before.

 

Getting started with your perfect executive coach

  • Once you’ve done all the background work, all that’s left to do is hire someone.
  • Just like hiring anyone else, the first candidate you interview isn’t necessarily going to be the person you want to hire. I recommend interviewing your top two or three candidates so that you can get a feel for how each person interacts, what their ideas are for working with you, and how well you two communicate.
  • You want to pick someone who has the credentials and a solid track record, but also someone who will work well with you and your needs. Meeting them in person (or via a video Skype call, if they’re not local) will allow you to gauge their compatibility with you more accurately and let you get a sense of their personality before you commit hundreds of dollars and hours of time to the person.

You also should ask about things like:

  • Ideas they have for when you start working together.
  • How often they will be able to meet.
  • What a typical meeting with them looks like.
  • What kind of homework/action items they typically give out.

Executive coaches typically work with clients for three to 12 months; usually on the shorter side of that scale. They are brought in for a specific purpose and once it’s resolved, their job is done. It’s important that you and your coach develop a timeline so that you know you’re making progress before their time with you is up. That way you are spending your time and your money wisely, and not dragging out the coaching relationship longer than it needs to be.

A lot of work goes into finding the right executive coach and identifying what you need to work on, but a good executive coach can really enhance your career. It’s not always easy work, but it will push you forward, and that is what becoming a great leader is all about.