Finding an Executive Coach: Where to Start
With top business leaders like Bill Gates embracing the support provided by executive coaches, it’s clear that this type of coaching can offer significant benefits. However, recognising the value a coach can provide is one thing, but knowing how to find one who can help you may be less clear.
In this article, we outline the key steps to start with if you are trying to find an executive coach.
1. Identify your needs and objectives
Before you can identify “who”, you need to determine “why”. Begin your search for an executive coach by identifying your motivations and expectations.
Start with these questions:
- Why do you want to find a coach?
- What are the areas where you want to improve?
- What are you struggling with at work?
- How do you envision a coach helping you?
- Are you open to change and prepared to commit to the coaching process?
Clarity on these issues will help you identify prospective coaches and lay the foundation for a productive relationship. Your needs and objectives may evolve as you and your coach tackle issues together, but having a clear starting point will help provide an initial focus.
2. Explore your options
There are many coaches out there offering a wide variety of services and coaching styles.
Some focus on specific niches, such as working with individuals in certain industries or following structured coaching methodologies, while others adopt a more diversified approach. Their qualifications and experience can also vary widely, including those with backgrounds in psychology, organisational transformation, high-performance teams or intercultural communication.
The following can be useful resources for identifying experienced coaches who may be able to meet your needs:
- Coaching organisations. Professional coaches are often members of national or international coaching bodies. In Singapore, the local chapter of the International Coach Federation has a directory where you can search for coaches by specialties and experience.
- HR department. Your organisation may have existing relationships with executive coaches or be able to put you in touch with suitable candidates.
- Peer referrals. Someone among your peers has likely benefited from coaching, so it can be helpful to learn about their experience and ask for referrals. Seeking out coaching is a sign that you’re serious about professional development, so don’t be shy about discussing it.
3. Assess the fit
Chemistry is important for a successful coaching engagement, so be sure to sit down with prospective coaches before making a decision. Coaching can sometimes require vulnerability and involve uncomfortable questions, which means you’ll have to build a relationship founded on trust.
Ideally, you will find a coach who can both support and challenge you in a way that is customised to your needs. This doesn’t mean that they must have experience specific to your situation, but it does mean that they should be able to understand your circumstances and align with your goals.
Starting together on a path to improvement
Working with an executive coach can be transformative, but you must be prepared to invest the time and effort to do things right. This is not a quick fix.
If you start with clear objectives and take your time to find a coach with whom you connect, you’ll be taking the first steps towards meaningful professional
outcomes. Of course, finding the right coach is just the beginning – the real work and the true rewards are both to come.