Have you ever heard of an athlete without a coach succeeding in their sport? Did you ever look at Tiger Woods and think to yourself, “I bet he taught himself to do that with no help at all,”? Of course not. Great athletes need great coaches. And in the world of competitive corporate world, that means hiring an executive coach.
The problem is that hiring an executive coach can be a difficult process, if you go in blind. Unlike professional athletes, most executives have never had a coach, and don’t know what to look for in one. That’s why I built this quick guide to help you find the right coach for you.
How To Hire An Executive Coach
Step 1: Determine What Kind Of Coach You Need
Before you so much as Google executive coaches in your area, make sure you know what you’re looking for. There are executive coaches that will help you in just about every aspect of your life. And, sadly, not all of them follow an ethically driven sales process. If your needs are vague, an unethical coach can simply describe their service in a way that seems like it could fit you.
You can get coaching for dozens of specific things like:
- spiritual guidance
- management and leadership
- public speaking
- culture building
- business operating systems
The list goes on. So, before you walk into a restaurant and loudly say, “one food, please,” think about what you’re really hungry for.
Step 2: Build A List Of Potentials
Now that you know exactly what you are looking for, it’s time to start building a candidate pool. You can take many different approaches to this.
Personally, I always suggest talking to colleagues first. They may know someone that fits the bill. And, if it saves you the time and hassle of vetting candidates, it’s already good coaching.
That said, if you want to look yourself there are several options online and in person. Check out these venues for finding a coach:
- EOS Worldwide: There’s no such thing as one size fits all, but the Entrepreneurial Operating System comes darn close. Working with a coach in the system significantly improves results.
- Entrepreneurs Organization: I’m actually a sponsor of the Dallas EO chapter. It’s a great organization that helps small to mid size businesses by connecting them with mentors and coaches to that have been there before.
- Vistage: This is a fairly large group with chapters in many major cities. The mentoring program isn’t cheap, but people swear by it.
- Consulting Bench: if your company is big enough to foot the bill, Consulting Bench has a list of major consulting firms by area.
- Pro Finder: This is the LinkedIn associated hiring service.
- Others: CT, Graphite, and Consultants 500 are all great places to look if you just want to play the field.
Step 3: Determine If You Have Chemistry
Most people would probably put this a little lower in the process, but to me it’s a critical step. If you don’t have chemistry with a coach, you’ll never get much from the relationship.
When you’re hiring an executive coach, you have to remember you’ll spend a lot of time together. If you don’t get along with the person, or can’t be 100% yourself, much of that time will be wasted.
Step 4: Understand Their Background, Expertise, And Process
Hiring an executive coach is much like hiring any other employee. You want to learn as much as you can about them before you actually give them the job. Be up front in asking about their background and expertise. Ask them what got them into coaching, what they learned in their professional experience, and anything else that comes to mind. And don’t forget to ask after their area of expertise. Remember, step 1 identified exactly what you need. If this person doesn’t fit that bill, don’t waste your time or theirs.
The key question in knowing how to hire an executive coach, though, is about process. The vast majority of consultants and executive coaches will have a process they follow. Maybe it’s based on a best-selling book. Or, maybe it’s just their personal way of doing things. Whatever the case, make sure you understand their process before moving forward. You want to make sure that this is something you are both capable of and willing to fully commit yourself to.
Meet the Founder
Jeff Whittle founded and launched Whittle & Partners in 2011. Before that, Jeff practiced law in Dallas for 15 years and has an additional 20 years of executive business experience. He has run businesses ranging from startups to 300-employee operations.