What to Look for in an Executive Coach

Targeted, personalized executive coaching is designed to help maximize a great employee’s professional potential to be an even greater leader. Some programs focus on leadership performance, taking a three, six, nine, or 12-month period to prepare executives and high potentials to enhance leadership behavior. Or you can choose programs that equip newly promoted leaders with the skills to successfully take the leadership mantle, aiding in the transition from, say, being a great account executive to the head of the department. Other programs focus on leadership competency development or assessments of who will ultimately make great leaders in your company.

Typical areas of executive coaching include:

  • Listening and communication skills
  • Empathy
  • Self awareness
  • How to build effective teams
  • Mentoring and developing talent
  • Delegation
  • Leading during times of change
  • Transitioning from individual contributor to leader


So, the type of coaching program is important, but the coach you choose is critical. What should you look for to find the best fit? Here are a few criteria to think about during your selection process.

Industry experience. Executive coaches should already speak the language of your industry and know the intricacies of working within it. Look for coaches that come from diverse professional backgrounds, or for people who have held senior management positions in Fortune 500 companies.

Certification. The executive coaching industry is unregulated, so be careful. Look for coaches who have gone through a program that is approved by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and also has ongoing, continuing coach education.

A free consultation. You (or the exec who will be coached) should be able to sit down with your coach for an introductory session before you sign on the dotted line. This is a chance to not only check the coach’s qualifications and experience, but to determine if there’s the kind of intangible chemistry that can turn an average coaching experience into magic. You’ll want the coach to be a person your employee trusts and can confide in.

A clear start and end date. Don’t get trapped into contracts with no end date. Look for programs that are structured around a timeline, whether it be a year or just a few months.

Clear, measurable goals. What is the outcome you’re looking for from the coaching experience, and how will you measure it? ROI is critical to proving the value of coaching to higher ups for approval of future programs.At GetFive, we’re experts in executive coaching. Questions? Contact us today.


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