The Right Executive Coach Matters

Part 7 of The Six Truths of Executive Coaching

Characters Standing Against a WallThe right executive coach is critical to the success of the executive coaching process, so you must choose wisely.

Choosing wisely requires being clear about your salient criteria for selecting the right coach.

Establishing clear and salient criteria will eliminate any guesswork and give you the confidence to make the right choice. So let me help you get the clarity you need so you can move forward!

Cutting through the Chaff

An estimated 40,000 people call themselves executive coaches. Their education may range from online self-study courses to doctoral degrees from major research universities. Like Forrest Gump’s “box of chocolates,” you have no way of knowing which one you’re going to get.

Coaching, like most other consulting, has a low barrier for entry. That simply means that anyone (and I do mean anyone!) can grab a domain name, throw up a website, and, for around $100.00, hang out a shingle and announce they’re in the business.

If you browse executive coaching websites, you might find buttons or banners or graphics touting membership in a professional coaching organization, or certification from some association or other. While some professional associations do “certify” coaches, the value of such certification efforts isn’t exactly clear.

In addition, “professional coaches” themselves often reject the idea of any national or international occupational standards that require measurement against statements of competence.

My, what a surprise!

Looking at relevant literature, you’ll find numerous articles listing the “traits” required of successful executive coaches, including

  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Objectivity
  • Intelligence and insight
  • Ability to communicate feedback effectively

Well, no kidding!

Those traits apply today to almost anybody…seeking any position…in any organization… anywhere on the planet!

Clearly the benefits of such traits cannot be argued, but such a list alone alone will not help you choose the right executive coach. Besides, how could you possibly know if any of your candidates even possess those traits, much less to what degree?

Criteria You Need To Use When Selecting an Executive Coach

So let’s cut to the chase.

Let me share the salient criteria we use at rd&partners to select and hire every one of our executive coaches, and some basic criteria you should use when looking into the qualifications and expertise of an executive coach:

  • At least 10 years of executive-level business leadership experience in a Fortune 1000 firm, preferably including P&L responsibility
  • Formal graduate-level education in the behavioral sciences (a Ph.D. or MS in Organizational Psychology or Organizational Development is preferred). Clinical Psychologists and those with degrees in Social Work need not apply, because their formal training emphasizes a view of people as “broken” and in need of “fixing.” I talked about how the coaching process is NOT therapy here. We might also hire a coach with an advanced business degree, as long his or her coursework required supervised coaching of clients for successful certification.
  • At least 5 years of experience coaching VP or Director-level executives in a corporate environment
  • Favorable–and verifiable–references from at least 5 current (or former) executive coaching clients

Use these criteria to select your executive coach and you will be serving your organization well. Wander from them – well, best of luck to you.

With our strict selection criteria it’s no wonder we average a ROI of over 300% on our coaching engagements.

As you can see, the right coach matters!

Contact us today to discover the many advantages of using rd&partners as your trusted single provider for all your executive coaching needs.

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About The Author:

Rob Denker is the Managing Principal of rd&partners. He helps leaders consistently see tangible, real-world benefits by making behavioral changes that are directly linked to the organization’s strategic initiatives, and their own effectiveness as a leader. Connect with Rob and rd&partners on LinkedIn.

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