Steps to Selecting a Leadership Coach

Find yourself stuck and wanting better results? Looking towards the future and need some clarity?

We all need someone on the outside to challenge our assumptions and keep us on track. Whether you’re a leader or not, you could benefit from leadership coaching.

selecting a leadership coach

Here are 6 steps in Selecting a Leadership Coach:

1. Realize You Need a Coach.

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably accomplished this step already — congrats! You’ve determined that you need an outside voice to walk alongside of you, ask you the necessary questions, and help you measure progress.

2. Find a Coach.

Databases and coaching groups exist all over the internet. Some of the best leadership coaching relationships emerge from a personal referral. If you know of someone who has participated in leadership coaching, ask them about their experience and start from there.

Next, seek out coaching lists from different organizations like International Coaching Federation (one of the largest credentialing organizations) or simply run a google search.

Be careful with running a Google search though. Many people call themselves coaches and create nice looking websites without taking the time to get training and expertise. Unfortunately it seems that anyone who has experienced some level of success now tries to call themself a coach because they want to “tell” others what to do. If you run into this, that person is not coaching. They are consulting and their model or experience may not apply to your situation in the same way a coach’s approach would.

3. Confirm Credentials

Coaching is often misunderstood. Many people confuse a coach with a consultant (see #2 above).

– Consultants look at the situation, make suggestions, and give advice.

– Coaches ask questions, help set goals, and allow YOU to arrive at the best conclusions for your context.

Each of these roles have their place and context; however, beware that not all “coaches” are actually trained and credentialed coaches AND many “coaches” promise to tell you exactly how to do things (If they promise “how-tos” primarily, it is a typical sign they are not a real professional coach)

If you plan to invest your organization’s money in coaching to accelerate results, you should also investigate their background and experience in the coaching profession.

4. Identify Coaching Style

A good coach asks great questions to arrive at goals and measurable steps. A great coach will also push you to accomplish those goals and celebrate your successes along with you. Each coach interacts with his or her clients in a slightly different way; however, you should ensure your coach will help you focus on results — not just food for thought or the misapplication of a cookie cutter approach that doesn’t fit your context.

A good coach asks great questions to arrive at goals and measurable steps. Click To Tweet

As you investigate potential leadership coaches, don’t hesitate to inquire about their approach and techniques used while coaching. Some of these are things such as confidentiality agreements, assessments, questions, leadership pipeline development and others. Looking at these processes and techniques allows you to be open and honest with the coaching organizations you are considering, your potential coach, and yourself as you examine and explore organizational growth barriers, professional challenges, and other difficult issues.

Warning: Many organizations advertise coaching programs where you receive very little one-on-one coaching. Essentially they want to group 8-12 people into a cohort, show you pre-recorded videos, and then provide coaching as a group. See a trend here. They are guarding their time and giving you very little. I call this overpraising and under delivering. Before signing up for a $2000 or $10,000 coaching program, you should investigate the value of what you are really getting and how much time they will actually commit to your success.

5. Jump In After Selecting a Leadership Coach

The task of finding, evaluating, and selecting a leadership coach can be daunting; however, don’t let fear or finances keep you from moving forward. Many times potential clients will say “I’m not sure if right now is the best time” or “We can’t afford it right now.” This may be true, but perhaps you need to consider if you can afford to stay in the same patterns and rhythms you currently have. Setting intentional goals and steps to achieve those goals propels your leadership forward and many times places you ahead of your peers.

Various studies have come out over the past few years about the return on investment coaching clients have received. The consistent feedback has been that virtually all have seen a return on their coaching investment that made coaching a no-brainer. In some contexts, corporations have reported returns in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for coaching arrangements that cost much, much less (Returns at that level don’t come from a few videos and a group coaching session where you ask 1-2 questions maximum. They come from individual coaching that focuses on your context and helping you achieve results.)

Obviously, I’m a little biased about the industry as I have actively provided leadership coaching and trained leadership coaches for years. If you are hesitant to get coaching or lack trust in working with one, try reading a book about coaching to get some skills to begin coaching yourself (a great resource is Tony Stoltzfus’ book “Leadership Coaching” :: Leadership Coaching: The Disciplines, Skills, and Heart of a Christian Coach). If you aren’t convinced of the value of coaching and ready to make the changes necessary to grow, now likely is NOT the time for coaching.

6. Celebrate Any and All “Wins”

Entering into a coaching relationships provides the momentum, motivation, and measures to keep you moving forward in your development as a leader as well as moving your organizational objectives forward faster than before. You may discover some difficult patterns or character traits in yourself that you need to deal with. Celebrate each step you take forward and all victories considered a win.

When life gets busy and chaotic, it is easy to never stop to celebrate, diagnose, and reenvision. But when things go well, you need to understand what things contributed to your success and how you can repeat them more often (Your coach should be able to easily help you navigate the process of repeating and optimizing success).

When things go well, understand what contributed to your success so you can repeat them. Click To Tweet

What are your next steps to selecting a leadership coach today? What information do you lack for making your next decision moving forward? When do you plan to get that information?

Let me know what steps you need to take or any questions you have. I’d also be interested in learning what other steps you suggest leaders take as they assess whether or not as well as when they should begin working with a leadership coach. Leave a comment below with you ideas, questions, and suggestions.

Selecting a Leadership Coach