An Executive Coach can really help you to hone your personal leadership to grow yourself, your team and business, so that you contribute to and develop a culture where everybody matters and you generate both people and economic value.
A good coach will help you to identify areas that you are particularly strong at or need help with and by working together you’ll be able to do two main things: Firstly, you’ll be coached in maximising key areas of your role, such as your communication and leadership skills and secondly, you’ll be able to highlight areas of your work that could be delegated to someone else who may be better suited – so that you can be working in the areas of your key strengths, loves and talents; or your ‘zone of genius’, as Gay Hendricks calls it.
Generally, Executive Coaches work on a consultative basis and you’ll meet with them at regular intervals, either in person or via phone or Skype, to discuss where you’re at and set plans, goals and priorities.
Your coach can be seen as having a few different ‘hats’ – they are often your accountability partner, mentor, friend, confidante and champion. In the world of executive leadership, it can sometimes be a lonely and uncertain place and having your coach on your side and to bounce ideas with can be invaluable.
Here are 10 key things to consider when choosing your Executive Coach:
Do you want to be able to meet face-to-face regularly with your coach? If so, their location being reasonably near to yours is an important factor. If you’re happy to have phone or video calls then this will not be an issue.
How often do they suggest you connect for coaching – once a week, once a month, twice a month? How long is each session – a day, an hour, 15 minutes? If you’re in a period of real flux or change of direction then you may need to work with someone more intensely for a while. If you are relatively settled in your career, it may be fine to have an hour every month.
Will there be an opportunity for e-mail support in between verbal sessions, if so, what are the parameters?
If you are looking to upskill in a specific area of your work or self then it may be necessary to find someone who has experience and knowledge of that skill – for example, developing effective communication, creating strategy for business development, sales and marketing skills, navigating in a complex organisational structure.
Or you may want to find someone who has great leadership coaching skills or can act as a thought partner for you to develop further your independent thinking enabling you to create breakthroughs.
In your executive role, it is very important to choose a coach who is well-qualified and accredited by recognised professional bodies.
Do they work or have they worked in your particular industry? This may be an absolute essential factor for you, it may not matter at all or it may be beneficial to work with someone from outside of your industry, for a fresh and alternative perspective.
Do they have glowing testimonials and case studies from other coaching clients? How have they helped them to develop in their executive role? Are these the kind of results you want to achieve?
Are they blunt, diplomatic, soft-natured, hard-hitting? Do they listen – really listen? Do they communicate most/best by e-mail, phone or in person?
Are they completely frank with you? Do they tell you what they think you should do or do they generate more of your independent thinking enabling you to discover more about yourself and for yourself to achieve breakthroughs?
No one particular style is better than another, it’s all about what works best for you.
Do they uphold the same moral, ethical, spiritual and business values that you do? It’s good to find this out upfront because if they are motivated by achieving results as quickly as possible and you are motivated by discovering more for yourself through high level thinking and personal discovery, you may encounter some issues sooner or later, for example.
Similarly, if you both value communication but they espouse the value of long and personal discussions with your subordinates and you prefer a ‘one minute manager’ type approach of keeping communication open but more short and sweet, then there may be some difficulties.
Investment in coaching is inevitably a significant factor but it should not be the main factor.
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for and if your prospective coach charges a considerable fee, do consider the ROI they have been able to help their clients generate, or they time and resources they can help you save, which may prove to be much more cost effective than a cheaper coach who can’t help you to achieve the same level of results or savings.
At the end of the day, this is probably the most crucial factor. If your prospective coach has all the right attributes on paper but you just don’t gel with them then you may need to continue your search.
That said, you don’t necessarily want to find someone who’s exactly like you and that you agree with everything they say. Your coach’s job is to challenge you, as well as support you, so it is probably a good thing that they get you thinking in new ways that may not initially sit well with you.
Just make sure that you feel like you are able to express yourself well and can trust in this person to want the best for you and help you achieve what you want for yourself and your business.
Jane Adshead-Grant is a Master Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation; one of just 4% at this level, globally. Awarded Best Executive Coach in South East England in 2016 and 2017 and nominated one of 2019’s Most Influential Women to Watch by Success Insight Magazine.
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