Executive coaches are used to help individuals reach the next level of performance or correct underperformance. Large companies often invest heavily in coaching to support their top leaders. An effective executive coach provides individualized, open, confidential, safe and actionable advice. They can help you uncover blind spots, navigate corporate politics or deal with tough management issues. A coach can also facilitate valuable feedback loops from others in your organization and serve as a confidant or sounding board for a leader who finds it “lonely at the top.”
An executive coach is most useful when you are ready and willing to engage in tough discussions, receive feedback and make changes. Finding the right coach is also very important. When establishing fit, consider personality, chemistry, style, industry knowledge and your unique challenges. Ask classmates, peers and/or mentors for referrals to coaches. There are numerous certifications that have popped up to add credibility to the executive coaching industry, including ICF, PCC and MCC, but while they indicate an individual has had a certain level of training, they don’t guarantee that the coach will be useful to you. The bottom line is that you need to know what kind of help you need and then find someone who has experience in that area, who is recommended, who you can respect and with whom you feel comfortable.
When engaging with a coach, be sure to have an initial consultation and articulate your needs as well as desired outcomes. Discuss rates and arrangements up front so that you are in sync.