Finding the Perfect Executive Coach for You

Ken Larson

Ken Larson

Soon the Olympics will once again take the world by storm. Fans will become enraptured by the timeless stories of seasoned professional athletes savouring their final moments in the sun, ambitious newcomers stepping into the spotlight, heartbreaks, and lifelong dreams realized. In the end, the champions will stand with pride, representing their nation on the podium. And do you know what each and every one of them will have in common? They all needed a trusted coach behind them on their journey to victory.

Athletes aren’t the only professionals who benefit from coaching. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or a high-potential employee, an executive coach can help you avoid a career rut — or get out of one — and guide you toward becoming a champion of leadership. Executive coaches don’t just offer career advice. They also help you to recognize, develop, and realize your full potential as a company leader.

Executive coaches vary in many ways. There isn’t one way to develop a great leader. Coaching style, theories, and preferences are as varied as the executives themselves. When choosing an executive coach, you should consider many important factors that will enable you to gain the most from their guidance and develop into a talented, versatile leader.

Discovering Your Needs

The first step toward finding successful executive coaching in Canada — or anywhere, for that matter — is to assess your needs. Different coaching styles address different needs. So before you run to Google and search for “top executive coaching Canada,” you first need to step back and take a long, hard look at yourself. Reflect on your strengths as well as where you may be coming up short. Until you can look at your needs honestly, you won’t know what to look for in an executive coach.

If you’re having trouble finding areas for personal and professional improvement, you might benefit from a coach who can offer honest, objective insight regarding your performance. Even the gold medalist on the podium can find ways to improve their performance. Executive coaching can help you develop the emotional intelligence needed to discover areas for self-improvement and better connect with those you lead so they can reach their full potential.

Executive coaching can address many other needs. While researching the different types of executive coaches out there, continue to reflect on your needs. To make sure you’re going to get what you and your business need out of executive coaching, ask yourself:

 

    • Am I ready to be honestly evaluated and receive feedback on my performance?
    • What are the goals I hope to achieve throughout my coaching sessions?
    • Are my desires more centered around communication and performance or are they solely revenue-related?
    • How much time and energy am I willing to dedicate to this process?
    • Would I allow stakeholders in the company to be involved?
    • Do I want a coach who pushes me or supports me?
    • Am I ready to fully commit to the process and do the necessary work?
    • Am I ready to be held accountable?


Remember, the role of an executive coach is to guide you toward becoming a champion of leadership. This individual should be able to meet your needs and help you grow professionally. Taking the time to do your research and define your needs will start you off on the right foot toward finding your perfect executive coach.

A Coaching Background to Be Desired

Executive coaching is generally an unregulated profession, so the quality of coaches can vary and you want to make sure that you find someone who is legitimate and can deliver results. Many factors play a part in making a good executive coach and it’s up to you to measure the value of your prospective coach’s offerings. Different skills, experiences, and credentials will be desired by different clients. Since you’ve already defined what you need, now is the time to ask yourself what kind of coach can deliver the results you’re looking for.

 

Certification

Many people look to certifications as a metric for measuring the potential of success. Your inclination may likely be to find someone who has experience in your industry, but this shouldn’t be the sole determining factor when searching for a top executive coach. Sometimes experience and coaching ability are not correlated, and often coaching ability is more important than direct work experience in your industry — you’re looking for a coach, after all, not a new employee.

Forbes contends that the best certification comes from the International Coaching Federation, and many agree. While the International Coaching Federation may be the generally favored institution for executive coaching certification, there are other credible certification programs you can look to when searching for a top executive coach that has the training to help you reach your full potential. 

 

Experience

Naturally, an MBA from a top university raises the eyebrows of anyone involved in the business world. Though this is a good start for an individual professing to be a great executive coach, it takes far more than a prestigious degree to teach, motivate and inspire top executives. Moreover, some candidates may be better marketers than coaches. You’ll want to look for more than a perfectly optimized website, an esteemed degree, and a good pitch. 

“The proof is in the pudding,” as they say and a great executive coach will be able to show you why they’re the best. You’ll want to find an executive coach who’s worked with others that had similar needs, and you’ll want to know what the experience was like for them. A good coach will be confident but humble, knowing that there’s no 100% guarantee in anything. A great coach won’t have to pitch you, they’ll be able to show you why you want to work with them.

 

Get in Contact

Once you’re satisfied with multiple candidates’ backgrounds, there’s one last thing you’ll need to do: get in touch with them. There’s no better way to peer into the validity of another person’s background than to have a conversation. Send an e-mail to a coach whose background has piqued your interest. Tell them a bit about yourself, what you’re looking for, and look to set up a free consultation — almost all coaches offer this service over the phone. 

A coach who can help you is someone who speaks passionately about what they do, can share intimate knowledge with you about their specialties, and will spend time getting to know you and your needs. A good executive coach won’t immediately pitch you on some huge package before you’ve had the time to get to know one another and make a real connection.

Talking with the coach will give you a chance to get to know them a bit and assess their character. Treat the conversation like an interview. Pre-plan your questions as if you’re hiring for the most critical position in your organization… because it is! 

After your conversation, ask yourself:

  • Is this coach a good listener?
  • Does this coach seem objective in their assessments?
  • Do we share similar core values?
  • Is this coach creating an environment where I can admit flaws?
  • Does this coach challenge my assumptions about leadership?
  • Is this coach capable of getting my team to open up and give honest feedback?
  • Will this coach maintain confidentiality?
  • Does this coach exemplify the qualities they profess?
  • Does this coach have a tested method for adjusting behavior?
  • Will this coach hold me accountable for doing what I say I will do?

Look in the Right Places

Whether it be an executive coach or a handyman who will provide reliable work in your home, where do you go when you are looking for a reputable service? Your network. You’re surrounded by professionals who exchange information, services, and deals. Naturally, someone in your network will have sought out and worked with an executive coach that brought them the results they desired. Utilize your network when beginning your search for the perfect executive coach.

Beyond your network, there are multiple resources to look toward. LinkedIn offers the option to search for and contact executive coaches in your area. This can be effective in finding many candidates but you’re likely in for a long research process, as anyone with a LinkedIn profile can claim to be a great professional executive coach. 

You can also search for a credentialed coach on the website of your favored executive coaching credential service. Many of these services will be happy to put you in touch with a number of their pupils in your area. However, you’ll still need to vet these individuals to discover how successful they’ve been with their clients since they received their credentials.

Additionally, you can also enlist the help of an executive coaching firm. These companies will have multiple experienced coaches who’ve been vetted and tested to meet their company’s standards for success. If you have further questions about the process of finding, vetting, and working with a top executive coach, they can help you recognize, work towards, and achieve your goals.

Champion Can Help

Champion is one of the top executive coaching firms in Canada with 25 years of experience. We have served hundreds of leaders, helping them achieve business growth. At Champion, we connect you with trained, experienced, and effective coaches who can help you reach your full potential as a leader at your company. Champion is here to help you discover your goals, improve productivity, and increase revenue.

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