Choosing an Executive Coach for Managers & Leaders

Choosing the ‘right’ coach for you is crucial as the effectiveness of the programme depends on the quality of your relationship.

You’re not looking for a best friend, but you need someone you can talk to about most things – perhaps even things you don’t share with others. At the same time, you need someone to help you make lasting change. If you are too comfortable you may play it safe and not stretch yourself as much.

It’s not a decision that’s a perfect science, so you have to trust yourself and you need to ensure you’re not choosing someone who unconsciously you believe will collude with. You don’t want to have a mutual admiration party with your coach, but you do want to feel that you want to return for the second session.

How do you make the decision?

At i-coach, we encourage you to meet or have a short conversation with more than one coach. So, after talking with you about what you are hoping to achieve from coaching, we’ll suggest a few that may be a good ‘fit’ for you at this time. It is then up to you to meet with them, share what you are looking for, and get a ‘sense’ of whether this coach is right for you. These initial conversations are not charged for.

We asked some of our clients to share some tips on how best to choose a coach when you first meet. Here are their thoughts:

Think about the chemistry

Pay attention to how your coach “shows up” in the conversation, do they seem completely present? Do they listen well? How do they make your feel? Do you feel you and your situation are understood?

“I had a chemistry session with three coaches but I chose Caroline because her approach felt humanist and I felt an instant connection. I wanted to move forward, not get stuck in theoretical models. I liked her directness, she got to the point and found out what areas I wanted to focus on”
Jagdip Panesar

Can you trust them?

Coaching is a confidential process and it is important that you feel and believe you can trust your coach. What helps you to know you can trust people? What do you need to hear or feel? Perhaps ask the coach how others describe them, how they manage confidentiality, what clients they have chosen not to work with before and why?

“For me, it’s important to choose the coach for you, by understanding what their experience is and what their credentials are.”
Senior Director

“Be really open with your coach. I felt quite vulnerable as I went on a journey with Caroline, but I learned to keep going. The process has given me new resilience. In fact, I’d say I’ve never been as open with anyone as I was with Caroline during our sessions, I trusted her and my openness enabled me to learn how to change.”
Chris Oliver

Don’t fall into the ‘expert trap’

It can be tempting to want your coach to come up with all the answers and on occasion to wave a magic wand – but remember, that’s not their job. The learning journey is yours and a good coach will always:

  • Support your thinking – not do the thinking for you
  • Ask you searching questions, observe you, offer feedback and partner with you
  • Encourage you to ‘own’ the process and your development

“We took a practical approach to working through the challenges which was what I really wanted from the process.”
Senior Director

Support and challenge

There is a sweet spot in learning where we need to get out of our comfort zone enough to make some changes but not be so uncomfortable we feel anxious. Did the coach encourage you to think differently about something you’ve been wondering about for some time? What has helped you learn before and does the coach offer some of those characteristics? Do you feel the coach will have your back, nudge you and celebrate with you?

“I thought she would push me, yet not give me the answers.”
Ashlee de Klerk

“I think the experience of being coached by Caroline is very human, empathetic and very equal. She uses a model of “I’m OK and you’re OK’. She is not at all arrogant, she’s not there to save me or fix me, we are problem solving together
Jagdip Panesar

From my very first conversation with Caroline I have felt fully supported by her, and consistently, constructively challenged. I chose to work with Caroline because it was clear from the outset that she would not let me leave any stone unturned. The coaching experience exceeded even my high expectations. I will always be particularly grateful for her tenacity, for her thoughtful challenges, for her belief in me and for her humour. I have felt far more confident in my leadership and in myself ever since…the coaching I received now benefits every area of my life.”

SVP Pharmaceuticals

From our clients to you

“Approach coaching with an open mind and be clear what you want out of it. The pay back is well worth the investment.”

Senior Director

“For those new to Coaching, ask the coach what coaching is and isn’t, and remember at times it can be emotionally draining, but stick with it to gain the full benefit.”

“It’s not for the coach to hold you accountable. Give the process time, change doesn’t happen after one session.”

Jagdip Panesar

“Have a clear idea of what you want to work on. Caroline helped me articulate what this was for me, setting goals for myself helped make the most of the coaching experience. Stay open too as goals may change too”

Ashlee De Klerk

Sitting in snug