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How to chose an Executive Coach that’s right for you.

Six key areas to explore before you chose an Executive Coach to work with.

There are so many coaches out there, from all walks of life. But if you are picking a coach to work with you, you can’t afford to make the wrong decision and start all over again with someone else. So how do you separate the sales spin from the reality and be confident that the coach you chose is right for you?

First of all, take some time over the choice. If it works, coaching could be one of the best investments you can make – for you personally and for your business. But despite this, people often rush into a decision or jump for the first coach they speak to. So, before you take your pick make sure you find out these things about your coach:

What is their main coaching focus? If you need a business coach, you need a business coach – not a life coach who happens to do some business coaching. Many coaches will offer a range of services, but find out what their real specialism is – or at least the type of coaching they have the most passion for.

What business experience do they have? It is perfectly acceptable to ask a coach about their professional background, including asking for details of what they did or achieved for the companies they worked for. You can be coached by someone who has only operated several layers lower in organisations, but to get real success you need to know they have experience at your level (See Business Coaching for Directors – How to make sure you’ll get what you need from coaching).

Are you comfortable with them on a personal level? Rapport is important here. Coaching will sometimes take you into unfamiliar areas and challenge your comfort zone. You need to make sure you work with someone that you personally feel comfortable with – this is not about expecting to be best friends (which is not what you need), but knowing that you can relax enough in their company.

Have they got experience of your specific skills challenges? If you already know there is one particular skill or competency you want coaching on, such as influencing skills or time management, make sure this is an area the coach has experience of. Similarly if you work in a specific sector and want someone who understands the specific challenges you face, check their background includes this.
How much of their time is spent coaching? Beware of consultants or trainers who say they are coaches but actually spend a very small part of their time coaching people. There is a huge difference between a full time trainer who occasionally adds coaching onto a specific package and a professional coach!

What management experience have they had? This may sound obvious, but if you manage a large team of people in your business you need someone who can understand the dynamics and challenges that brings. There are many coaches out there who will have managed only a handful of people or none at all.

So, if you do all this can you be sure that coaching will work? Absolutely not – coaching is a unique relationship and you will never know how it will work until you give it a go. But, if you ask these questions and you personally are comfortable with the answers given, your chance of success will be far greater.

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