Good Executive Coaching is about changing and enhancing behaviour. There are many reasons why coaching could be a good solution: perhaps you’re looking for that next boost that will take your career to the next level, or perhaps you need to brush up on your leadership skills.
Whatever the reason for seeking out coaching, you’re going to want to select the right Executive Coach who will walk a path with you through the good and the bad. Choosing the wrong Coach can be costly in time, money, and emotional investment. The coaching market is flush with many a well-intentioned Coach, ready to take you on that journey — but how do you choose?
Our people development team here at Omnicor has been involved in coaching for more than 15 years now, and we’ve learnt that the following five factors are critical in selecting an Executive Coach that will work for you:
#1. BUYER BEWARE:
Coaching is a largely unregulated industry in South Africa. Although regulating authorities like the ICF, COMENSA, and the HPCSA provide coaches and counsellors with registration, executive coaches don’t have to be registered, since the title of “coach” is not protected under law. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the qualifications and experience of your prospective Coach. Look at the Coach’s resume or profile and create an overall impression of how successful their own careers have been, preferably with expertise in the area you are looking to develop. If possible, establish if this Coach has worked with similar coaching objectives before. It is also standard practice to ask for testimonials from previous clients. To be extra sure, ask the prospective Coach if they have ever been fired as a coach before — and why.
#2. COACHING STYLE:
Coaching is like peeling back the layers of an onion, discovering new strengths and vulnerabilities. If you do not feel that you can open up or trust your Coach, the relationship may stay very superficial. This is not to say you can’t still achieve your goals, but the journey will be that much more meaningful and insightful if you are prepared to share deeply and not feel judged by your Coach. One of the amazing benefits of receiving coaching is the comfort of just having someone in your corner. When selecting the right Coach for you, look at the following elements of the Coach’s style and approach:
Displays empathy and is able to build rapport. Coaches who are too harsh and make you feel humiliated/intimidated will not enable change
Listens with patience and interest. Seems passionate about coaching
Easy to talk to
Helps you think things through
Demonstrates respect for you and the challenges you face
Not overly directive or too non-directive. Asks questions that promote thinking and self-awareness
What diagnostic process does your prospective Coach propose? How will the Coach craft a hypothesis about your root problems and then validate it? This is important for the accurate and scientific measurement of progress and correct coaching intervention. Good coaching looks at data, whether it’s from a 360 degree evaluation or psychometrics, as a starting point for behaviour change.
#4. HEALTHY BOUNDARIES
How does your prospective Coach plan to evaluate progress? When will coaching completed? Warning bells should go if the Coach over-shares personally and is vague about the duration of the coaching programme and end date. You don’t want to work with a coach who seems to be overly involved, invested in keeping you in coaching forever, or who does not encourage eventual independence from the coaching process.
#5. CONFIDENTIALITY AND FEEDBACK
How does your coach handle confidentiality and feedback to various stakeholders? This issue can get complicated, but to clarify: The Executive Coaching relationship is triangulated. That is to say, your employer will often be paying for the coaching, making them the sponsor of the coaching programme. As such, they will expect to be kept in the loop. The Coach has to follow their own ethical guidelines to decide what to share, and you, the Coachee, also have a say in what gets shared and with whom.You need to trust your coach completely to not go to go behind your back and provide feedback that has not been agreed on (as per ICF ethics). If there is reporting to the organisation, you should first have the opportunity to approve it. This should be covered in detail in the initial coaching contracting phase. If you are paying for your coaching yourself, there is normally little to no involvement from or reporting to your employer.
Finally, be vigilant for overpowering providers — Coach matching research shows that the more choice you have in selecting your coach, the more successful you will be. Don’t feel pressured to choose your Coach too quickly — take as long as you need.
We wish you everything of the best in any upcoming coaching programme. Choose wisely and feel free to email us with any questions or assistance you may need.
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