Your career is humming along, you’re climbing that corporate ladder, but you feel like you could be achieving more. That’s a sign that you’re at a point at which you could benefit from an executive or business coach.
“You know you’re in need of a coach if you are doing well and are on the right track, but you know you could do better and you’re looking for an acceleration of results,” says Heather Christie, president of Naples-based business and executive coaching firm Evolve Global. “Some people will reach out to a coach to gain additional clarity, because clarity creates acceleration.”
Determine the results you want to achieve through coaching. Christie says younger professionals just starting out might benefit from working with an industry-specific coach. More experienced businesspeople in higher-level positions would be better off with an executive or leadership coach.
Ask for referrals. “More than 90 percent of my client base comes from direct referrals from past clients,” says Christie. “There is no better way than to have someone you know, like and trust who has experienced coaching give you a personal referral.” Ask those friends and colleagues about the impact coaching had on their careers and companies. “What is it that the coach really helped them accomplish that they might not have accomplished on their own?” says Christy. “What kind of return on investment did they get? What sort of increases did they have in terms of profitability, cash flow or number of clients?”
Check for credentials. “Where it gets tricky is that anybody can call themselves a business coach,” says Christie. “‘What certifications do you carry?’ should be the number one thing you ask after you’ve determined what kind of coaching you’re after.”
There are several ways to get certified as a coach, and Christie said that the amount of time invested and the reputation of the program matters. Accreditation by an organization such as the International Coach Federation can be a sign of a reputable program. Also ask coaches about what kind of assessment-tool certifications they carry.
“A validated assessment will cut months, if not years, off a coach’s time in understanding an individual’s strengths,” says Christie. “If I’m working with a coach and that coach really doesn’t understand me and what makes me tick and motivates me to take action, they could be coaching me based on their perceptions and not mine, and that is not helpful for me. I would only ever work with a coach who starts with a validated assessment for me and really understands me.”
Find a good personality fit. Just because a coach worked wonders for an executive you admire doesn’t mean their style will work well for you. “You have to have 100 percent trust in your coach,” says Christie.
“You have to be so vulnerable and open and willing to share things with your coach that maybe you haven’t shared with other people. So rapport is critical.”
Don’t think in-person sessions are the only options. Conducting coaching sessions by videoconference can be just as effective as face-to-face meetings.
“A certain segment of the population carries the belief that it’s better to have coaching done face-to-face,” says Christie. “But then you are limited geographically and would have to choose a coach based on proximity, and that’s a really tough way to choose a coach, in my opinion.”