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Hiring An Executive Coach? 22 Questions You Should Ask!

Article Categories: Career + Executive Coaching
Leadership Articles | Career | Hiring An Executive Coach? 22 Questions You Should Ask!

by | Jun 22, 2023

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Choosing the right executive coach can be a game-changer for your career and organization. According to the International Coach Federation, there are over 53,000 certified coaches worldwide, not to mention just about as many who aren’t trained or certified, making the selection process increasingly challenging. In this article, we will explore some key questions to ask when hiring an executive coach and provide you with a downloadable sheet for your chemistry interviews.

What is an Executive Coach?

An executive coach is a professional who helps leaders and executives develop their leadership skills, enhance performance, and achieve personal and organizational goals. You can learn more about what executive coaches are here.

They work closely with clients to identify areas of improvement, create actionable plans, and provide support throughout the coaching relationship.

Most significantly, a trained executive coach can play a significant role in fostering a client’s self-awareness, facilitating cognitive shifts, and supporting personal transformations. Here’s how they contribute to these areas:

  1. Self-Awareness: Executive coaches use various tools and techniques to help clients become more aware of their thoughts, emotions, behaviors, strengths, and weaknesses. They create a safe and supportive environment where clients feel comfortable reflecting on their actions and identifying areas for improvement. By asking powerful questions, coaches encourage clients to examine their beliefs, values, and motivations, which leads to increased self-awareness.
  2. Cognitive Shifts: Executive coaches assist clients in recognizing and challenging limiting beliefs or unproductive thought patterns that may be holding them back. They help clients reframe situations, explore alternative perspectives, and develop new ways of thinking that can lead to more effective decision-making and problem-solving. Through this process, clients experience cognitive shifts that enable them to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
  3. Transformations: Executive coaches support clients in making lasting changes in their personal and professional lives. They guide clients through the process of setting realistic goals, creating action plans, and implementing strategies to achieve desired outcomes. By holding clients accountable and providing ongoing feedback, coaches empower clients to take responsibility for their growth and development. This continuous process of learning and self-improvement leads to meaningful transformations in clients’ mindsets, behaviors, and overall well-being.

In summary, an executive coach plays a pivotal role in helping clients enhance their self-awareness, make cognitive shifts, and undergo personal transformations, all of which contribute to their success as leaders and professionals.

But what questions should you ask to find out who might be the best fit for you?

Read on to find out.

lightbulb with questions marks illustrating the bright idea behind Hiring An Executive Coach lightbulb questions

Questions to Ask an Executive Coach

Here are 22 essential questions you should ask when considering hiring an executive coach:

1. How do you distinguish mentoring from coaching?

This is a deal-killer, if the “coach” doesn’t have a clear distinction. There are several distinct differences between a coach and a mentor. A mentor relies on their own experience in your particular field of interest and gives advice on what to do. A coach challenges you to think about your situation and your beliefs from fresh perspectives. While mentoring can be valuable, a coach is more likely to lead to cognitive shifts, so you will want to be sure you find someone who is trained and adept using these forms of inquiry.

2. How can you help me identify my blind spots?

Understanding your weaknesses is crucial for personal growth. A good executive coach should be able to help you uncover your blind spots and address them effectively. Make sure you are comfortable with their answer.

3. What can I expect as a result of an engagement with you?

It’s essential to set clear expectations from the start. The coach should provide you with a detailed outline of how objectives, expected outcomes, and ideal duration of the engagement are determined. If a coach offers guaranteed success, they are not the coach for you. Tip: the best outcome is a transformation in how you approach your career, leadership, life, or whatever it is you wish to improve. This is what we call coaching the person, not just the problem.

4. What is your coaching methodology?

Different coaches use different methods. Asking this question will help you understand if their approach aligns with your learning style and preferences.

5. How do you define executive coaching success?

This question will give you insight into the coach’s perspective on what makes a successful coaching engagement. Their answer should resonate with your own definition of success.

6. What is your experience working with clients in my industry or with similar challenges?

While you aren’t expecting a coach to tell you what to do, if they have experience working with clients with similar challenges, gives them an advantage to being a more effective thinking partner.

7. What types of coaching engagements have you worked on previously?

This question will help you gauge their experience and determine if they have worked on engagements similar to what you expect from the coaching relationship.

8. How do you handle confidentiality?

Confidentiality is critical in a coaching relationship. Ensure that the coach has a clear policy in place to protect your privacy and sensitive information.

9. How do you measure progress and success throughout the coaching engagement?

A good executive coach should have a system for tracking progress and measuring success against predefined goals.

10. What are your qualifications and certifications?

While certifications aren’t everything, they can indicate a coach’s commitment to professional development and adherence to industry standards. Don’t only rely on the coach’s experience as an executive, as this may only qualify them to be a good mentor. Some coaches received second master’s degrees in coaching, put in thousands of hours, became certified AND have executive experience. If you feel this might be relevant to you, find out how your prospective coach measures up.

11. Can you provide references from previous clients?

Speaking with past clients can give you valuable insight into the coach’s working style and effectiveness. Also consider looking up public reviews on Google, etc. See what other clients are saying. Do those reviews look like one you’d like to be able to write by the end of the coaching engagement?

12. How often will we meet, and what is the preferred mode of communication?

Establishing the frequency and mode of interaction will help ensure that your coaching sessions fit within your schedule and preferences. Ideally, when you ask this question, the coach will ask you what best suits you.

13. How do you stay current with industry trends and best practices?

A great executive coach should be up-to-date with the latest trends, tools, and techniques to help you stay ahead in your field.

14. What is your approach to providing feedback?

Understanding how the coach delivers feedback will help you determine if their style aligns with your preferences and needs.

15. How do you handle difficult conversations or conflicts during the coaching process?

Conflicts may arise during the coaching engagement. Knowing how the coach handles such situations can provide reassurance and confidence in their abilities.

16. What support do you offer between coaching sessions?

Some coaches provide additional resources and support between sessions, which can be valuable in maintaining momentum and progress.

17. What is your pricing structure, and what does it include?

Ensure you have a clear understanding of the costs involved and what services are included in the fee.

18. How do you personalize your coaching approach to meet my unique needs and goals?

A tailored approach is essential for an effective coaching relationship. Your coach should be able to adapt their methods to suit your specific objectives.

19. What challenges have you faced as a coach, and how have you overcome them?

This question can reveal the coach’s self-awareness, resilience, and ability to learn from past experiences.

20. How do you maintain professional boundaries while fostering a trusting relationship?

A healthy coaching relationship requires a balance between professionalism and trust. The coach should have strategies in place to maintain this balance.

21. What is your philosophy on leadership development?

Understanding the coach’s perspective on leadership will help you determine if their approach aligns with your values and goals.

22. How do you distinguish between coaching the problem vs coaching the person?

An advanced coach will be able to clearly explain the difference.

Coaching the person focuses on the individual’s overall growth and development. In this approach, the coach helps the client uncover their values, strengths, and potential blind spots. The emphasis is on fostering self-awareness, enhancing emotional intelligence, and developing a growth mindset. Coaching the person aims to empower the client to find solutions to their challenges and navigate various aspects of their personal and professional life more effectively. This holistic approach often leads to sustainable, long-term change and success.

Coaching the problem is a more targeted approach that focuses on addressing specific issues or challenges the client is facing. In this method, the coach works with the client to identify the root cause of the problem, explore possible solutions, and create an actionable plan to overcome the challenge. This approach is usually more solution-oriented and may involve setting short-term goals, providing tools and techniques, and offering guidance on how to tackle the problem at hand. Coaching the problem can lead to quicker results but may not address the underlying patterns or behaviors that contribute to the issue.

In practice, many coaches use a combination of both approaches, tailoring their coaching style to the unique needs and objectives of each client. It’s essential to communicate your expectations and goals with your coach to ensure that their approach aligns with your desired outcomes.

Asking these questions during your chemistry call with potential executive coaches will help you find the right fit for your needs.

In conclusion, choosing the right executive coach is a crucial decision that requires careful consideration. By asking the right questions and assessing their experience, qualifications, and coaching style, you can find a coach who will help you unlock your full potential and achieve lasting success.

Originally authored by Nick Tubach, MBA, PCC.

<a href="" target="_self">Nick Tubach</a>

Nick Tubach

Specialties - Transformational Leadership, Influence, Emotionally Intelligent Leadership, Communication Mastery

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