“Do you think getting a leadership/executive/business coach would help?” 

This is a common question from individuals in search of a coach.

And because I truly believe that everyone has the capacity to grow and change at all stages of life and career, my answer is usually “yes”.  

With one exception.  If the individual or organization already knows that this person is not going to be successful and/or disciplinary action has already been taken.  Then acquiring a coach becomes a last ditch effort to save face or check a legal compliance box, at which point I strongly discourage working with a coach.  It’s just a waste of time and money.

But for just about every other professional situation where a person could benefit from focused skill building and support – yes – a coach can definitely help.

Like with everything else, fit is extremely important in a coaching relationship.  

There are a number of factors to consider to help ensure that you find the right coach:

Coach Credentials. 

The coaching industry is very robust but not closely regulated.  So it has resulted in many people – those with credibility and others without – to designate themselves as “coaches”.  

The good news is that there are a few, official accreditation bodies who validate and certify the authenticity of coaching programs and set standards for coaching knowledge and rigor.  The premier global coaching authority is the International Coaching Federation (ICF). 

Being ICF certified is akin to some other professions that require licensure and/or certifications. It means the coach went through a formal training program, including classroom and practicum work, to acquire the basic knowledge to be a coach.

Coach Experience. 

You wouldn’t let a doctor operate on you without knowing that she’s successfully completed that operation before.  Well, it’s shouldn’t be any different with a leadership, executive or business coach.  

Since this person will be a strong partner in helping you achieve your objectives, you will want to make sure they’ve “been there, done that” before. That they’ve successfully coached others in the same area.

As the prospective “coachee”, you should interview each coach you’re interested in working with. Asking about their prior work with others is more than a fair question.  

Coaches are usually bound by confidentiality and will not be able to share names, companies, or other personal identifiers without consent from former clients. But they can share descriptions of previous work to demonstrate capability and experience.

You could even ask for a reference, allowing you to hear first hand from a former coachee who could share their experience working with that coach.

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Coaching Methodology.

How a coach works with clients has a lot of implications for the working relationship.  This includes things like:

  • What’s the estimated length of the coaching engagement? (this will also depend on your goals)
  • How success will be measured?
  • Are quantitative or qualitative assessments part of the coaching work? If so, which ones?
  • Who is the ultimate client – the coachee? the coachee’s manager, if applicable? The organization? This is very relevant to understanding who will have access to information about the coaching engagement both during and after.
  • Will feedback from colleagues, peers, managers, others be part of the process?
  • Are there formal checkpoints throughout to determine whether things are progressing as expected or to make adjustments, if needed?
  • How frequently will coaching sessions take place? In person? Virtual? 
  • Does coaching include one on-one-sessions? Group coaching sessions? Access to online communities and resources?

Leadership Tip: All of the above questions can and should be asked before agreeing to work with a coach. 

Cost.

Because the coaching industry is not regulated, fees are not standardized.  According to the 2017 executive coaching industry review from Sherpa Coaching, average hourly fees for leadership, executive and/or business coaches range from $200-$600. 

But that’s just a ball park estimate. A coach’s hourly rate is influenced by several factors including your goals or what you want to work on in coaching, geography, coachee’s management level, experience and background of the coach, coaching methodology, access to other resources like online communities, etc.  

In my experience, most independent (i.e., self employed) coaches are willing to negotiate on price but larger coaching firms tend to be less flexible.  Yet, I always say – it never hurts to ask, so if the original pricing conflicts with your budget, inquire about flexibility.

My suggestion is that you focus on value rather than cost, if possible.  Once you receive the financial quote, ask yourself whether or not the service you will be receiving and the expected outcomes are worth what you would be paying.

Final Thoughts.

Leadership Tip: Don’t pick the first coach that comes your way. Comparison shop so you can make an informed decision

 

If there is a coach that comes highly recommended by someone you trust, be sure to still explore your options.  Even if you have worked with a coach before, it is still important to DO ADDITIONAL HOMEWORK prior to working with them again.

Here’s why.

The coaching industry is rapidly evolving. New players, methodologies, tools and resources come on the scene every day.  The only way to ensure that you are receiving the best available to you is to ask good questions and compare.

Think of your coach as an investment in your professional and/or personal development, because that is exactly what it is. So you will want to research your options and validate your choice before making any final decisions. Getting answers to the short list of questions above is a great place to start.

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