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How To Select An Executive Coach With These Tips

Article Categories: Executive Coaching + General
Leadership Articles | Executive Coaching | How To Select An Executive Coach With These Tips

by | Jun 22, 2023

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Have you ever wondered how to select an executive coach? Selecting the right one can be a game-changer for your professional growth, leadership skills, and overall success.

But the process of finding the perfect fit can be daunting, especially given the myriad of options available. How do you ensure that the coach you choose will deliver the results you desire and help you reach your full potential?

By conducting thorough research and due diligence, you can minimize the risks and unlock the true power of executive coaching for your personal and professional development.

We have a great guide on “what is an executive coach” if you need more clarity on what they do and how they work..

To make this process easier, select an executive coach with these tips, which will guide you in making an informed decision.

Short Summary

  • Research and due diligence is essential for selecting a qualified executive coach.
  • Evaluate credentials, experience, coaching style & approach to ensure the best fit.
  • Seek recommendations & testimonials plus establish metrics and progress reviews to measure success.

Importance of Choosing the Right Coach and What Happens if You Don’t

The significance of selecting the right coach cannot be overstated. It is critical for attaining desired outcomes and avoiding expensive errors in a coaching engagement. Failing to take the necessary care in selecting executive coaches may lead to a loss of resources, such as time, money, and reputation, for both the leader and the sponsors (HR or top management).

Companies that provided executive coaching reported an impressive 86 percent return on investment.

This is in sharp contrast to other types of investments. Trust is integral to a successful coaching relationship, making it essential to ensure that the coaching methodology used by the coach aligns with your needs and expectations.

How To Select An Executive Coach A selection of coaches choosing coachTips for How to Select an Executive Coach

To navigate the process of selecting the right executive coach, several factors must be considered. These include determining your coaching needs, evaluating coach credentials and experience, assessing coaching style and approach, seeking recommendations and testimonials, conducting a chemistry session, and discussing contracting and confidentiality.

It is also important to ask the right questions when considering engaging an executive coach. Here are some essential questions to ask an executive coach before hiring them.

In the following subsections, we will delve into each of these factors in detail, providing a comprehensive guide for finding the best fit for your unique coaching needs.

1. Determining Your Coaching Needs

Before embarking on your quest for the perfect executive coach, it is crucial to assess your coaching needs. This includes determining the level of coaching required and considering the coach’s industry or functional experience, if you need a coach who can also play an occasional mentor role (aka, giving advice, based on experience).

Understanding the distinction between coaching, mentoring, and therapy is equally important. While mentoring involves a more directive approach, drawing on the mentor’s expertise and past experiences, a leadership coach focuses on helping the leader develop their own skills and abilities through a more collaborative process, ultimately contributing to leadership development.

On the other hand, a therapist investigates the underlying dynamics of our behaviors, thought processes, and feelings, which is not the primary focus of an executive coach. Thus, if you are experiencing mental health or general well-being difficulties, consulting a therapist would be more appropriate than seeking an executive coach.

Before you make any decision you should learn more about the differences between executive coaching and leadership coaching so you can see which one is right for your needs.

2. Evaluating Executive Coach Credentials and Experience

Once you have a clear understanding of your career coaching needs, it is time to evaluate the credentials and experience of potential coaches. A reputable certification, such as one from the International Coaches Federation (ICF), is a good indicator of the coach’s qualifications. In addition, inquire about the coach’s experience in coaching individuals with similar objectives to yours and their success rate with people in a similar position as you.

It is essential to note that prior executive experience, although beneficial for rapport-building, is not a prerequisite for a successful coaching experience.

3. Assessing Coaching Style and Approach

Coaching is defined by the International Coaching Federation as an interactive process that offers clients guidance and helps them reach their goals. It encourages critical thinking and can be used for both personal and professional development. Therefore, a coach’s approach and style play a crucial role in the success of the coaching engagement. An effective executive coach should be able to thoughtfully probe and uncover unproductive or unhelpful assumptions while confronting the leader in a respectful, diplomatic, and non-judgmental manner. They should also model the desired behaviors, as demonstrating these behaviors is the most effective way to teach.

Additionally, a coach is responsible for stimulating their clients to face certain realities, difficulties, and promote personal growth. When assessing a coach’s approach and style, consider if their explanation resonates with your experience during the conversation, if their communication style allows you to feel at ease, if your interpersonal styles are compatible, and what your expectations of the coach are in terms of unlocking your personal and professional potential.

Be mindful of coaches who are excessively committed to a single approach and insist that they will not vary their approach, even if they are your own coach.

4. Seeking Recommendations and Testimonials

Obtaining recommendations and testimonials from individuals with similar coaching needs and goals can provide invaluable insight into a coach’s previous accomplishments and client satisfaction. To find such testimonials, you can inquire within your trusted network, including colleagues, peers, or industry professionals who have worked with executive coaches.

You can also conduct online research to find reviews or consult coaching platforms to gain further insight into the coach’s track record and success stories. By analyzing these testimonials, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision about whether the coach is the right fit for your unique needs and objectives.

5. Conducting a Chemistry Session

When you look to hire a new potential employee, you would ‘t hire the first person you like. You would interview the top 2-3 candidates. It’s the same for coaching. A chemistry session is like an interview. It’s a meeting between the coach and client to assess the compatibility of their working relationship and evaluate its potential effectiveness. This session is crucial in fostering a connection, cultivating initial mutual trust, and assessing if the relationship is suitable for a typical coaching session.

Moreover, it is essential to ensure that all stakeholders, such as HR or top management, are in agreement regarding the executive coaching goals and process. By conducting a chemistry session, you can gain valuable insight into the coach’s approach and style, ensuring a successful and productive coaching engagement.

6. Contracting and Confidentiality

Incorporating a contract and confidentiality agreement in the coaching engagement is vital for both the coach and the client. The contract should include the scope of work, fees, payment terms, confidentiality stipulations, and a termination clause.

When assessing an executive coach’s ethical standards, consider factors such as regular supervision, confidentiality, and contractual agreements. It is important to inquire with the coach about how confidentiality will be managed, especially when the coach plans to involve stakeholders from your organization in the coaching process.

Ensuring that they discuss their intention to share information and obtain your approval before divulging any details is essential for maintaining trust and confidentiality.

7. Contract Terms and Conditions

A coaching contract should include clear terms and conditions, outlining the coach’s name, address, telephone number, and email address for contact purposes. It should also include pertinent information regarding payment, such as the fee structure, payment schedule, and payment methods. Additionally, rescheduling and cancellation policies, including the terms for rescheduling and canceling sessions and any applicable fees, should be incorporated.

Furthermore, clauses pertaining to confidentiality and data protection, such as the coach’s commitment to preserving the client’s privacy and any applicable laws, should be included in the contract. Providing a clear outline of the type of coaching, duration, and expected outcomes of the services is also crucial for ensuring a successful coaching engagement.

8. Confidentiality Policies

Confidentiality policies in the selection of an executive coach refer to the agreement between the executive coach and the leader or team members that all information shared during the coaching process will remain strictly confidential. Preserving confidentiality in executive coaching is essential for building and sustaining trust between the leader and team members.

In cases where confidential information pertains to the safety, legality, and liability of the company, the executive coach should communicate the information to HR. This ensures that the best interests of all parties involved are protected while maintaining the integrity of the coaching relationship.

9. Is There a Coaching Results Guarantee?

While some executive coaches may offer a coaching results guarantee, it is crucial to discuss this aspect with the coach before engaging in a coaching relationship. Establishing tangible metrics and setting up regular progress reviews can help ensure that the coaching engagement is on track to deliver the desired outcomes. At the end of the day, the coaching client has a big impact in the success of the engagement. If the client doesn’t bring humility, self-awareness, or invest the time, the likelihood of success decreases considerably.

In the following subsections, we will explore the importance of tangible metrics and regular progress reviews in more detail.

10. Tangible Metrics

Tangible metrics, such as increased productivity, reduced costs, and enhanced team coordination, are quantifiable outcomes that can be used to measure the success of a coaching engagement. These metrics can help track progress, measure outcomes, and assess the impact of the coaching program on the individual and the organization as a whole.
By establishing clear, measurable goals and monitoring progress toward these goals, you can ensure a successful coaching engagement and maximize the return on investment.

11. Regular Progress Reviews

Progress reviews play a vital role in evaluating the success of the coaching engagement and making necessary adjustments to the coaching plan. Conducting progress reviews on a regular basis, such as monthly or quarterly, allows the executive coach and the client to evaluate the progress made towards the goals set, discuss any challenges or obstacles encountered, and consider any adjustments that need to be made to the coaching plan.

By regularly reviewing progress and adapting the coaching plan as needed, you can ensure that the coaching engagement remains focused on achieving the desired outcomes and fostering continued growth and development.

12. Is there a way to end an engagement early?

A coaching contract should include an early termination clause to ensure that both parties are protected in the event of early termination. If a coaching engagement does not meet the leader’s expectations or the sponsors’ requirements, it is essential to request further information and review the contract thoroughly before making any decisions.

By including a termination clause in the contract, both the coach and the client can feel secure in their coaching relationship, knowing that they have the option to end the engagement early if necessary.


In conclusion, selecting the right executive coach requires research, due diligence, and a thorough understanding of your unique coaching needs. By considering factors such as coaching style, credentials, experience, and confidentiality policies, you can ensure a successful coaching engagement that delivers measurable results and fosters personal and professional growth.

While the process of finding a good coach may be challenging, the potential rewards and benefits make it well worth the effort to search for a prospective coach.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Select an Executive Coach

What are the qualities of a good executive coach?

A good executive coach should possess qualities such as sound listening and communication skills, a positive attitude, empathy, strategic problem-solving ability, creative ideas, the ability to establish trust, and a deep knowledge of their client’s industry. With these attributes, they can help their clients reach success in their professional and personal lives.

What is the difference between coaching, mentoring, and therapy?

Coaching is a process of developing existing skills, mentoring provides advice and guidance based on the mentor’s experience, and therapy focuses on uncovering unconscious psychological issues that are impacting the individual’s daily life. Each approach helps people create positive changes in different ways.

Originally authored by Nick Tubach, MBA, PPC.

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

Nick Tubach

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

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