Posted: Thu 27th Oct 2022
Business expert, consultant and Enterprise Nation adviser Sarah Jenkins talks through the questions you should be asking yourself when looking for an executive coach.
What are my reasons for working with a coach?
You might not have a specific reason. Some 'coachees' approach an executive coach as they think it might be a 'good thing to do' without knowing what they want to achieve or because someone else has been 'raving' about their own coaching sessions. Perhaps they've been told to get an executive coach by a colleague.
Alternatively, some organisations want to get an executive coach for their leaders as they (also) think that it would be a good thing to do to improve company performance.
Getting an executive coach for an organisation will undoubtedly improve performance. But there needs to be a detailed discussion between the executive coach and the organisation's 'sponsor' about what the objectives are.
Having that discovery chat will help understand some of these issues. A good executive coach will also ask (either directly or via the course of the coaching) what the outcome might look like.
This can be a good question to have in mind if you don't know your main purpose for seeing a coach.
How committed am I?
An executive coach wants to work to support you in achieving your aims, overcoming challenges and obstacles and reaching some great goals.
A good executive coach agrees to give you their complete commitment. However, this is a partnership. The coach needs you to be committed too.
Your coach should be able to tell if you're not putting effort in to get the best outcomes. However, the coach will aim to surface what's getting in the way. There might be a reason, such as a limiting belief, that you're unaware of and that may be stopping you from achieving.
At the same time, be honest with your coach if something isn't working for you. They expect your honesty and shouldn't judge you. They will work to find out a better way of supporting you in sessions if a particular tool or technique isn't right for you.
How well do I think I'll be able to work with this person?
Following on from the need to be honest with your coach, you should (hopefully) get a feel for how comfortable you might be with them.
You really need to be able to develop a good rapport so that you can work well with them. Can you be honest and confide in them? Will you work well with them to co-operate in creating an environment that allows you to think, consider, work creatively and make decisions and plans that enhance your performance and reach your objectives?
How much time will I commit?
Think about making sure you clear your diary for the necessary sessions. Coaching sessions shouldn't be an afterthought, or something you make time for after everything else in your schedule.
Your sessions shouldn't be the calendar item that gets moved to make way for everything else. These sessions with an executive coach might support you in optimising your performance in all of your other calendar items.
You'll inevitably discover, if working with the right coach for you (and you commit yourself), that your coaching sessions should be the item that does not get moved (excepting emergencies).
How much am I willing to be taken out of my comfort zone?
Will you allow the coach to challenge you where you might need a bit of pushing out of your comfort zone?
How do you envisage this relationship might play out and are you willing to let them take you to the zone of uncomfortable debate (ZOUD), if the situation calls for it?
I think the ZOUD is a situation that every executive coach should be able to recreate if the circumstance calls for it. I can say this as a practitioner who has seen the fantastic outcomes that can be achieved when it is employed.