10 Steps to Find the Right Executive Coach for You

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Finding the right executive coach can be like finding the right book in a huge library. There’s a world full of qualified professionals, but who’s the perfect match for you? Who will help accelerate your career growth and meet your unique objectives?

It’s time to eliminate the guesswork. In this guide, we’ll walk you through a focused 10-step process to zero in on the executive coach who can truly catapult you toward your leadership goals.

Ready to transform your career? Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

Before you start your search, be clear about what you want to achieve from executive coaching. Is it enhanced leadership skills, improved productivity, or a career transition? This clarity will drive your search in the right direction.

Step 2: Determine Your Preferred Coaching Style

Coaching is not one-size-fits-all. There are differences in format, medium, and focus.

  • Format: Some people thrive with one-on-one sessions, while others prefer a group setting.
  • Medium: You may prefer in-person coaching, online sessions, or a blend of both.
  • Focus: Perhaps you’re interested in targeted strategy development, help with a few specific problems, or you’re looking for broader personal growth.

Step 3: Run a Targeted Search

Once you know what you’re looking for, run a specific search. For example, if you’ve chosen one-on-one leadership coaching, search for professionals who offer that service. Use specific search terms like “one-on-one leadership coaching near me” or “online executive coaching services.”

The types of professional coaching to choose from include:

  • Executive Coaching
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Sales Coaching
  • Marketing Coaching
  • Startup Coaching
  • Career Coaching

Step 4: Vet Prospective Coaches

Now, it’s time for a deep dive into your potential coaches. Visit their websites, browse their LinkedIn profiles, and check any other relevant online presence. You’re looking for someone with experience and success in your area of interest.

It’s essential to find an executive coach with relevant experience. A coach who has worked with clients with similar objectives will already comprehend the challenges you’re likely to encounter. Industry-specific knowledge will allow them to provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to your circumstances.

Step 5: Check Reviews and Credentials

You want to work with a coach who has an established track record. Look for reviews or ask for referrals to get a sense of what others think of their coaching style, effectiveness, and overall rapport.

Check Reviews

Look for testimonials on a coach’s website, LinkedIn, and Google Business Profile.

Reviews offer a glimpse into a coach’s success in helping clients achieve their goals. Occasionally, reviews might even offer insights into how a coach might handle your specific situation.

Check Credentials

A coach doesn’t necessarily need a specific degree, but they should have proven training in coaching.

Credentials from reputable coaching institutions can give you confidence in their understanding of coaching principles and practices. Credentials demonstrate a coach’s commitment to their profession as well as their knowledge of tested tools and methodologies.

Step 6: Get Referrals

Consider reaching out to colleagues and professional networks for referrals. Personal endorsements can be incredibly valuable when choosing an executive coach.

Referrals are a powerful counterbalance to the uncertainty of online reviews. A referral involves a personal endorsement from someone you trust. If a colleague or a professional contact, whose opinion you value, had a positive experience with a particular coach, that’s a strong vote of confidence.

Look up your coach on LinkedIn so you can easily see your mutual connections. You can reach out to a mutual connection by private message and see if they’ve worked with the coach. If they’ve worked with a coach, ask what they’ve liked or haven’t liked. Listen carefully to get their perspectives on the coach’s working style, strengths, and weaknesses.

Step 7: Schedule a Consultation

Most coaches offer a free consultation, discovery call, or strategy session.

This is a golden opportunity for you to gauge a coach’s style, understand their approach, and ask relevant questions. Take this time to ensure that you feel comfortable and engaged in their presence and that their coaching style aligns with your preferences.

Check for a Personality Fit

During your strategy session, ask about their philosophy and experience with situations similar to yours.

A strong rapport between you and your coach is vital. Look for a coach whose personality resonates with you — someone who listens well, supports you, shares your values, and can challenge you constructively.

This connection will make your coaching journey not just productive, but also enjoyable and personally enriching.

Learn About Their Coaching Approach

Coaching styles cater to different coachee learning styles, objectives, and preferences. Some coaches focus on developing soft skills, while others work on strategic planning or team management.

Ask the coach you’re interviewing what coaching methods they use. Then listen with an open mind. You can assess whether their approach resonates with you after the meeting.

You can also get a feel for the coach’s approach from the questions they ask and the way the discussion goes, especially if you opt to do a trial coaching period.

So that you know what to look for, here is a list of various coaching styles.

  • Transactional coaching focuses on specific actions and outcomes. It’s useful for goal-oriented tasks and short-term objectives.
  • Transformational coaching aims for deep, fundamental changes in behavior and mindset. It’s used for long-term personal and professional growth.
  • Strategic coaching centers on creating strategies for achieving specific goals. It’s useful for leaders and executives facing business challenges.
  • Behavioral coaching targets behavior modification to improve performance. It addresses specific habits or behaviors that impede success.
  • Solutions-focused coaching concentrates on finding solutions rather than focusing on problems. It’s useful for proactive individuals who prefer a forward-thinking approach.
  • Strength-based coaching works to maximize a client’s existing strengths. It’s useful for those who wish to enhance their performance in areas they already excel in.
  • Systems coaching takes into account the entire system (organization or team) a coachee operates within. This approach suits leaders who need to balance individual goals with broader organizational needs.

Step 8: Ask about Flexibility

As you progress, your goals, challenges, and needs may change. This is why it’s important to find a coach who can adapt their approach to meet your changing needs.

Here are a few questions that can help assess a coach’s adaptability:

  • Have you ever had to modify your coaching approach for a client? This should prompt the coach to share an experience when they adapted their style.
  • If my goals or circumstances change during our coaching relationship, how would we adjust the coaching plan? This will help you understand their process for reassessing and adjusting to new goals or challenges.
  • How do you handle scheduling and rescheduling sessions? Life can be unpredictable, and you might need to reschedule your coaching sessions from time to time. Understanding the coach’s policies in this regard can give you a sense of their flexibility.

By asking these questions, you will be able to gauge whether a coach can adapt to your evolving needs, thus ensuring a more effective coaching relationship.

Step 9: Trust Your Instincts

After completing all the steps, it’s important to listen to your gut. You’ll likely feel a natural inclination towards one coach. Trust that instinct. Remember, this is a person who will guide your professional development, so it’s crucial to have a high level of comfort and trust.

Step 10: Be Open to Trying Different Coaches

If you’re not making progress with your current coach, it’s okay to try another one.

Finding the right fit can take time. Remember, your goal is to find a coach who can effectively guide you toward your goals, even if it takes a few tries.

Get a Free Strategy Session

Every coach brings a unique approach and set of skills.

At Deliberate Directions, we offer a range of programs designed to meet our clients’ diverse needs: from one-on-one executive coaching to group coaching with your very own board of advisors, from leadership development programs to business planning workshops.

Remember, the search for the right coach is not just about their credentials or their experience, but about how they can help you meet your unique challenges. With this guide, you’re equipped with the knowledge and understanding needed to make the best decision for you and your future.

Are you ready to take your leadership skills to the next level? Schedule a free strategy session today to transform your career or business.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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