Executive Coaching – What’s All the Fuss About?

Executive coaching – what is it exactly, and why should you care? In this world of customization, think of coaching as a development solution tailored just for you. Today you can get personalized M&Ms, custom- made athletic shoes, and computers built to your specifications. So why not work with an executive coach who can help you design a targeted approach to achieve what’s important to YOU – whether that’s going for that next promotion, being a more effective leader, or getting more of what you want from your career? More and more companies are using coaching for high potentials and executives to help boost individual performance and productivity. So, it’s no wonder that this industry is experiencing explosive growth. Coaching may sound intriguing, but are you a good candidate for coaching? Well, here are a few questions to consider. Are you motivated to improve now? Do you have some idea of what you want to accomplish through coaching (e.g., building skills, working through a tough business situation, positioning yourself for the next level)? Are you willing to be honest and open about your strengths and development areas, and willing to hear feedback? Will you make time for coaching, and follow through on commitments? If you answered yes to many of these questions, coaching might be worth exploring.

Once you’ve determined that you are a good candidate for coaching, you need to choose a coach that “fits.” So how do you pick the right one? The AMA/Institute for Corporate Productivity Coaching Survey 2008 identified the five most common criteria by which coaches are selected:

  • business experience (with 68% saying they use this criteria frequently or a great deal)

  • recommendations from a trusted source (59%)

  • interview with the prospective coach (54%)

  • consulting experience (52%)

  • validated client results (48%).

Interviewing a prospective coach to ensure that there’s a good match in terms of personality and expertise clearly has the strongest relationship to a successful coaching program. Although professional standards for the industry are becoming more established, anyone can hang out a shingle today and claim that they are a coach. So, be sure to ask about experience, formal training, and certifications.

So, what’s the bottom line? Partnering with an executive coach could be a powerful combination. Just remember that hiring a good coach isn’t enough. The other part of the equation is YOU – what you want to get out of it and how much you’re willing to put into it.