The Coach Approach

Choosing an Executive Coach

There are three critical elements to consider when selecting the right coach - credibility, trust & integrity, and chemistry & style. Below are some factors to consider in each of those areas.

Be sure of the professionalism, training, credentials, and quality work. Many people who call themselves coaches do not have the coach-specific training or credentials to practice high quality coaching. A credible coach:

  • Has completed coach-specific training
  • Is certified by the professional association. The International Coach Federation (ICF) represents the "gold standard" for coach credentialing and certification.
  • Has applicable experience coaching people in similar roles and situations
  • Has an appropriate level of academic education to understand the complex needs in your role or organization
  • Can listen carefully to what you are saying and customize an approach to meet your specific concerns. What keeps you up at night and how will the coach work with you on creating the change you want?

Trust & Integrity:
ICF Credentialed Coaches sign an agreement to abide by the professional Code of Ethics. A coach with integrity will:

  • Explain how your confidentiality is protected
  • Create the safe space that enables you to open up about the most critical issues you are facing
  • Specifically tell you that they subscribe to the confidentiality requirements of the ICF Code of Ethics. If they do not ascribe to ethical standards of the professional association, you are taking chances
  • Know that success is dependent on a positive two-way relationship where both parties can be fully honest. If something is not working, the coach should not try to persuade you to stay but suggest a change that is in your best interest. Ask specifically what will happen if something is not working and how you will be able to let them know
  • Be honest about assignments that didn't work out. The reason can be chemistry, an unengaged client, or a relationship that just doesn't fit right. If a coach tells you this has never happened, you're not dealing with an honest coach! Find out if the coach can be as vulnerable as you are going to need to be. Real people are the people who can help you the most.

Chemistry & Style:
Coaches can vary greatly in their approach and style, so be sure the way they plan to work with you feels right. You have the right to explore:

  • The philosophy or method for coaching. A professional coach can walk you through the steps of the process easily. See The Coach Approach for how the process may work for you
  • The coach's style regarding structure: how much or little do you need and want?
  • How the coach will work with you as your desired outcomes change or evolve
  • If the general energy of the relationship feels right to you from the start
  • If the coach uses a blend of coaching, consulting and training. While some believe that coaches should only coach, high level leaders often want answers or specific models that help them move forward faster. The key is what the coach does in blending the methods to stay true to the coach approach.
  • The coach's focus. Great coaches focus more on maximizing your strengths than on what you need to change. Leveraging your strengths is the way towards positive change. With a stronger sense of self you become a more effective leader. If a coach focuses on what's wrong with you, run the other way!
  • How goals are set, how the appointments will work and how the results will be tracked for progress. A coach should also be able to tell you how you can deepen your learning and forward action on your own development through practices in between the appointments.

Follow your instincts because they are often accurate!

Adopted from the Tilt, Inc. document for use by Certified Tilt Coaches.