Employers Group Blog Connection

Who Needs a Coach and How do you Choose One?

Posted by Nicole Vierzba on Mon, Sep 19, 2011

By:  Charlie Martin, Founder, engagementtoolbox.com

Unless you think you are at the top of your game and can’t get any better at anything, chances are you could use the help of a coach. We all seem to get in our own way from time to time. It is easy to get in a place where you know you can contribute more but you just can’t seem to get a handle on how to do it. This is one of the many times when a coach can be valuable.

Executive Coaching is different than Sports Coaching

Many people think of business coaching or executive coaching or any of the many coaching designations as the same as sports coaching. There is a very big difference between an executive coach and a sports coach. There are also similarities. Both the sports coach and the executive coach must be knowledgeable and experienced in what they do. The key difference between sports coaching and executive coaching is the area where the value is being added. A sports coach, depending on at what level they are coaching and what sport, may spend a good deal of their time sharing technical expertise. This kind of coaching may be focused on a telling model. Other times the sports coach may be spending most of their time on supporting, questioning and bringing out the best in the client with no telling.

Executive coaching and the many other business and personal coaching designations are always working under the assumption that the client has the answer and is just having a challenge finding it within them. In this coaching environment it is never about telling the client something it is always about asking intuitive, effective questions. Coaches who have the necessary training, experience and expertise have spent a great deal of time honing their listening skills and are able to pick up the subtle clues that make a difference in the coaching relationship.

Executive coaching adds particular value in the following circumstances:describe the image

• Continued improvement for high performers
• Positive change and sustained performance
• Heightened executive self-awareness
• Clarity of direction
• Leadership development
• Corporate organizational changes
• Promotions
• Transitions from technical to managerial positions
• Force reductions
• On-boarding
• Enhancing a particular capability

How do you choose an Executive Coach?

The next question is how do you choose an executive coach? Coaching is a very personal relationship so in addition to any other criteria the chemistry must be right between the coach and the person being coached. The field of executive coaching is relatively young and is unregulated. At this point anyone can call themselves an executive coach, create a business card and a web site and they are in business. Fortunately over the past few years a great deal of effort has been made by the industry, led by the International Coach federation (ICF), to bring some professionalism to the industry. There are now schools that have been designated by the ICF as having the skills, expertise, integrity qualified instructors and appropriate curriculum to qualify as coaching training organizations. The ICF assures that these schools meet specific standards before they will allow them to be ICF certified. In addition the ICF has professional designations for coaches. To achieve one of the designations (ACC, PCC, MCC) the coach must have graduated from one of the accredited coaching schools and have coached a designated number of paying clients for a designated number of hours and have recommendations and verifications from other certified coaches.

Education, Experience, Certification and Chemistry

Although education, experience and certification is important it is still critical that in selecting an executive coach that the chemistry be right and experience and reputation appropriate for the assignment. Just because a coach doesn’t have an ICF certification does not mean they are not still an excellent coach. The other consideration and this often times fits under the heading of chemistry is the coaches professional background. Many coaches are highly educated and trained and have spent their entire careers in a helping field like human resources, counseling, consulting etc. Other coaches have experienced long successful careers in a executive and leadership positions in various businesses and have then decided to get the training and certification to be credible executive coaches. Both types of coaches may be excellent at what they do; however some clients prefer the long background in helping fields and some prefer the mix a long career in a executive and leadership positions supported by the coaching education and training. It is important to do the research and ask the questions to determine whether the background of the coach is important to the client.

The field of executive coaching is growing and the visibility and credibility is improving. However, if you find yourself in the position of thinking you need or want an executive coach for yourself or someone in your organization ask yourself what problem the coach is going to help you solve and do the necessary work to make the best selection of an executive coach for yourself of your colleague.


About the Author:
Charlie Martin is the Founder and Head Coach of engagementtoolbox (http://www.engagementtoolbox.com)  Charlie is the author of The Tools of Engagement, a Professional Certified Coach (PCC)  certified by the International Coach Federation and a seasoned leader with over 35 years of experience in a variety of senior level positions in a variety of industries.  He can be reached at Charlie@engagementtoolbox.com.


Topics: value-add, development, workplace, leadership, management, employee relationship, employee