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5 Questions to Ask Before You Hire Your Next Executive Coach

By: SmallBizClub


Surprising Reasons to Hire an Executive Coach

Over the years, businesses around the world have hired executive coaches as a corrective measure. These “professional fixers” would come in to assess and clean up a company’s most pressing issues. Once they sorted out the problems, they’d move on to the next client.

But this transactional relationship has changed. Amid ongoing and tumultuous shifts within companies, in industries, and across entire sectors, businesses have realized they need ongoing expert help.

Is your own company struggling to address short-term issues, let alone its long-term goals? Are company leaders on the same page regarding the organization’s vision? Have they developed a talent strategy to stop employees from leaving during the Great Resignation and Great ReShuffle? Do they have a plan to weather the looming economic storm?

An experienced executive coach can help with these issues and more.

What is an executive coach?

Executive coaches specialize in helping company leadership—including C-suite executives and management—uncover blind spots, fix communication issues, cultivate talent, and increase productivity and profitability. They ensure that the company’s leaders are working toward a vision and organizational alignment that will allow the business to hire top talent and thrive.

If you’re just starting your search for an executive coach, you need to do your due diligence—or you’ll risk wasting the company’s money and your team’s time.

As you reach out to prospective coaching candidates, start by asking these five key questions:

  1. How long have you been coaching?

Executive coaching has a low barrier to entry, which means anyone can claim to be a coach these days. It’s crucial to know how long someone has been in the field.

After all, if you needed neurosurgery, would you schedule surgery with someone who’s just out of medical school or with a neurosurgeon who’s been practicing for years?

  1. Where did you get your training?

What are the coach’s credentials? Where did they earn them from? I’ve had people flood my LinkedIn messages claiming to be an executive coach like me because they’ve taken a course from Tony Robbins. Newsflash: This doesn’t make someone an executive coach.

  1. What’s your experience in the field?

People tend to think they can be a coach even if they have no—or next to no—experience in a specific field.

Here’s an example: Years ago, I attended a meeting held by the International Coaching Federation. A woman stood up and introduced herself as an interview coach. As she did, the seasoned professionals in the room gave each other knowing looks: they understood that interviewing is just one part of helping people with their careers. Having conducted interviews in the past doesn’t make someone an “interview coach.”

Along these same lines, many people call themselves career coaches because they once worked as a manager and hired people. (This doesn’t make a person a career coach.)

The only qualified people in career coaching are those who’ve spent time working as professional executive recruiters. These people get to know candidates, determine what will be of interest to them, and know how to find positions that align with a candidate’s career goals.

According to Harvard Business Review, many professionals representing themselves as executive coaches are former athletes, lawyers, business academics, and consultants. While these professionals might have some degree of expertise in their respective fields, if they aren’t experts in your industry, they’ll likely do more harm than good.

  1. How do you define coaching?

Many people who claim to be coaches are advisers, not coaches. Coaching is about asking questions, listening, looking for blind spots, and working on mindset shifts. A great coach will understand that their clients have blind spots because they’re too close to see the issues themselves.

Experienced coaches can help you uncover areas of weakness and put the right structures in place to move forward in a positive direction.

  1. How do you define success with your clients?

Success is defined by a client’s specific goals. For example, it might involve significant growth in the company’s ROI. Or, it could mean retaining employees for two years longer than the company had been able to before, thanks to more effective communication strategies.

Share what you want to achieve to determine whether the coaching candidate has succeeded in this area before. Then, ask for details about his or her experiences and successes.

The benefits of hiring a qualified executive coach

When you find the right coach, you’ll enjoy success in:

  • Determining and managing your organizational goals
  • Mapping your leadership team members’ direction forward
  • Improving communication skills to engage with everyone in the organization effectively
  • Helping executives and leadership teams manage challenges
  • Uncovering and developing the business’s shared vision and organizational alignment to create a talent strategy
  • Boosting relationships, productivity, and performance
  • Earning back more than your investment in the coaching

The upside to great executive coaching is clear. Let these five questions be a guide as you get your search started.

Author: Carol Schultz, founder and CEO of Vertical Elevation, is a talent equity and leadership coaching and advisory expert with 30 years in the business. She’s helped hundreds of companies transform their organizations and create sustainable, talent-centric cultures that run at maximum efficiency. She’s the author of the Amazon bestseller Powered By People: How Talent-Centric Organizations Master Recruitment, Retention, and Revenue (and How to Build One). Learn more at verticalelevation.com.

Published: January 12, 2023

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