Published: Sep 25, 2020
Are you worried that you’re stuck in a career rut or not progressing as you’d like? Perhaps you’re going through changes at work or just feeling overwhelmed. If you’re looking to propel your career forward, an executive coach can help.
An executive coach specializes in developing executives and other employees with high potential so they can optimize their leadership performance. A great executive coach not only gives you career and professional development advice but also helps you to self-reflect and develop your ideas.
All executive coaches work slightly differently. As with any professional relationship, you need to choose someone who is a good fit for you if you want to get the most out of it. So how do you find the perfect executive coach? Here are a few things to consider.
Different styles work for different people. Some like a warm and friendly approach, while others prefer no-nonsense straightforwardness. What do you prefer? Envision your ideal coaching relationship and use that to determine which coaching style will be best suited for your needs.
Application of theories.
There are many coaching theories out there, and people ascribe to them and apply them in unique ways. According to leadership expert Jennifer Garvey Berger, the best executive coaches “rub theories together… taking new theories and putting them together – especially theories, practices, or ideas that are contradictory.” The best coaches are flexible depending on the needs of their clients. Aim to find someone who is adaptable, not dogmatic.
Why did the person you’re considering become an executive coach in the first place? What professional background and credentials do they have? What credentials you look for will depend on your field, needs, and context. For example, if you work in a niche industry you might want someone who has experience in that field. You might also look for qualifications like an MBA, or membership of a certification body such as the International Coaches Federation. Determine your background non-negotiables and the areas in which you can be flexible.
Once you've identified what you're looking for in your executive coach, the next step is figuring out how to find that ideal person.
Look at your network.
It’s always a good idea to look at your own connections first. Check out your connections on LinkedIn - the perfect person might be right there! If not, you can always search for a term like “executive coach” and check out your second- and third-degree connections. You can also ask your network for recommendations. A personal recommendation carries a lot of weight because the person giving the recommendation is staking their reputation on it. Once you’ve got a few names, you can check out their profiles and reach out to see if their approach will work for you.
Check their background.
Once you’ve got someone (or several people) in mind, perform a Google search to learn more about them. You should be able to find their professional website and any publications. Personal learning platforms are also a great resource. If any of your potential coaches list the names of former clients, you can reach out to those individuals for an honest assessment of the coach’s work. Use an email finder to track down their contact information if it’s not readily available. Compile a quick profile or pros and cons list for each candidate, based on the essential and desirable criteria you’ve identified.
Get in contact.
Coaching is a large financial and time investment, so you want to make sure you’ve got the right person. Once you’ve researched each candidate, you can make an informed decision about who you want to work with. Reach out by email and explain a little of your background, what you’re looking for in a coaching relationship, and how you found them. If someone referred you, say so.
Many coaches will offer a free consultation or discovery call before you commit to working with them. You can learn a lot about someone and their style in a 30-minute call. A good coach will invest time in getting to know you and your needs. If they try to push you into signing up for an expensive coaching package without an exploratory conversation, that’s a red flag.
Everyone, even CEOs, can benefit from executive coaching to boost their career. There is no single formula that defines the “perfect executive coach”. The ideal executive coach for one person may not be the best for another. It will depend on your preferences, needs, and what you’re looking for from the relationship.
Owen Baker is a content marketer for Voila Norbert, an online email verification tool. He’s spent over a decade in online marketing. He enjoys sharing his knowledge of content marketing across a range of websites.
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