8 questions to ask your prospective Executive Coach.

So you need some support to make some improvements in how you work as a people leader in your business? Executive Coaching is a powerful approach leading to changes in leadership behaviours and performance. Picking the ‘right’ coach is important. Here are some questions I encourage you to ask any potential coach, to make the best decision for your development.

How will you develop our coaching relationship?

Personal rapport and chemistry is vital. It results in a safe and trusting environment for you to share, open and honest about your situation and needs. Take time to understand if they are a good fit for you. Next, ask yourself – how do they compliment your natural style? How do you feel the coach will be able to challenge you to see different perspectives? Above all, a coach may have huge industry experience, but if there is no chemistry, your time and money will be wasted.

What is my commitment to Executive Coaching?

Take the opportunity to discuss this before agreeing to the coaching. Coaching is a shorter term intervention. It’s an approach for a particular need and period of time that brings about change. Generally, be prepared to commit to between 3-6 sessions, with each session being about a month apart. Don’t make an open ended committment.

How will we work together in the coaching?

A good Executive Coach will take you through their coaching ‘contract’ – a mutual agreement on working together. A critical part of the coaching process. It explores the coaching process, the tools, commitments, roles, ways of working, logistics and confidentiality. Your desired outcomes will also be discussed. As a result of this contracting, a stronger coaching relationship is created. If these areas are not discussed or in detail, alarm bells should ring. Contracting also allows the two of you to find out more about each other.

What are your experiences of my situation?

An Executive Coach won’t have absolute knowledge of your role or organisation, how can they? But, a good coach will be interested in these areas. Their developed knowledge of your industry will aid your coaching. Likewise, they will have understanding of business strategy and how organisations work. Come away with a feeling that the coach is going to bring depth and experience to your situation. Above all, steer clear of a coach who just talks about ‘fixing the issue’ for you.

What will I get from the Executive Coaching?

Any coach who cites specific outcomes or changes is not being honest. No coach will guarantee this. However, they will identify behaviours, and performance improvements that can be gained. The outcomes achieved depend on both parties contributing. Certainly, the more they ask of you the more they will be able to give you a clearer idea of possible outcomes.

What are your coaching credentials?

Qualifications don’t guarantee quality, but they mean the coach has mastered the techniques/tools of coaching. A coach with industry qualifications has been externally assessed. This tests their ability to practice well and safely. Additionally, they will have practiced and received feedback on their abilities. Together with this, the qualifications show their commitment and belief in coaching. Furthermore, ask what their qualifications are and which governing body they are members of. They won’t mind sharing these with you.

What are your Executive Coaching successes?

Experienced coaches will happily share the number of hours coaching they have delivered and the types of coaching assignments worked on. Ask for examples of what changes they have brought for their clients. Knowing these provides evidence of ability. If they have lots of hours but not many examples of change, something isn’t working…

How do you maintain your own coaching practice?

Professional coaches do regular CPD and receive supervision from qualified Coach Supervisors. Some have their own coaches too. Ask how the coach develops themselves and continues to practice safely and ethically. So, beware of coaches who don’t invest in themselves.

The right decision over an Executive Coach is important. It leads to a greater chance of success in your areas of change. Take time to ensure they have the right skills, experience and coaching credentials. Here are some reasons why having an Executive Coach will benefit with you. To have a chat about an Executive Coach for you or your organisation, get in touch today. Or, if you want help in finding the right coach for you then give us a call.

Nick Howell is an EMCC qualified coach. He has experience in finance, utility, service, charity, legal and education sectors. He works with clients to become the people leaders focusing on performance, skill and behavioural change.