What to Ask When Hiring an Executive or Business Coach

Make sure you get the most out of your investment

July 13, 2021

Minute Read

A smart business professional understands that to maximise their success and prosperity it can often take a partnership with the right person. Someone who is 100% committed to their success – someone whose only agenda is the success of your agenda - and provides the clarity, structure, new skills and accountability to reach that success.

As a result – the really smart ones engage a certified executive or business coach.

A good executive or business coach should bring an external perspective to their client’s business or career and a strong coaching structure. They should be able to create clear and measurable outcomes and provide a depth of experience that should compliment and challenge any leader or business owner.

Even more importantly – they should bring real accountability to the relationship and ensure that their client can reach their defined goals and reap the rewards of their success. This is particularly important where new leadership skills such as communication, strategy, personal organisation, team building or driving performance – or overcoming challenges with sales and business development – are the outcomes required from the relationship.

Choosing a good coach can be fraught with danger however. With no real regulation in the industry, anyone can set up and offer their services as a coach. So to prevent what could prove to be a costly mistake - I’ve suggested just a few important items to consider when choosing a coach.

1. Can they define ‘coaching’? This is a simple test to determine any coach’s competence. If you honestly can’t get a specific, articulate definition of coaching and its benefits then what kind of professional are you dealing with? A potential client can often get vague, woolly ideas about ‘helping the client’ and ‘having conversations’ but always ask for a specific definition. If they can’t give you one then maybe ask yourself whether you should hire them. See a Definition of G2S Coaching Here

2. Have they a specific model on which their coaching methodology is built and a code of ethics by which they operate: and can they explain and explore both the models and the code of ethics and the duty of care that they have both to the client and the sponsor (i.e. the business paying the fee)? It’s important for both the client and the sponsor to have clarity in these areas.

3. Have they a defined set of sessions? – Coaching is an intervention – it’s not meant to create dependency – a coaching program should therefore be focused on an end point, from which the client then has the ability and the resources to continue on their own. They should not operate on an open-ended basis where they can foster dependence in the client. Coaching is a short-to-medium term intervention, not a lifetime engagement.

4. Have they a specific structure to coaching – one that delivers measurable results? Too many coaches rely on ‘the conversation’ and the ‘coaching relationship’ both of which are important. But what’s more important is that your potential coach uses a robust and proven system of clearly identifying, articulating and measuring your goals, your motivation and your actions. A good system should clearly identify the steps to success, allow us to measure them and help the coach and the client to hold each other to the performance path until the goals have been accomplished. No system – I would suggest no coach.

5. One last thing, a coach should provide an initial complimentary or discovery call session before you hire them.

Sometimes this is called a ‘chemistry session’. Just make sure that if you commit your valuable time to such a session that it’s not just a ‘sales presentation’ on behalf of the coach. You should know that by the time it’s over you’ll have identified exactly what your goals are and what your success looks like when you do engage them.

If you are corporate leader, business owner or a professional in practice and you’ve been considering the benefits of using a successful coach to improve either your sales or leadership skills – and you’d like to see a short video on the subject - then just click here:

What Executive Coaching Delivers for a Client

The Author:

Sean Weafer is a G2S and Marshall Goldsmith certified coach for leaders and BD professionals since 1997. He is the founder of a global online coaching practice that works with many B2B corporate clients in the tech, finance and professional services areas and is based out of Dublin, Ireland.

Client recommendations:

“I would highly recommend Sean to anyone looking for a strong professional coach. Sean's unique approach helped me to challenge myself and push the boundaries out and focus on how to achieve key objectives in a practicable way." - Peter Fagan Senior Director, Indeed.com

“I first approached Sean to train my team in his High Trust advisor techniques (which I also highly recommend) and in our initial chat discovered he was also a business coach. I had just returned from maternity leave for the second time, and previous support I had used for the very purpose of easing the transition didn’t have the impact I had hoped. Though not specifically a coach for returners per se, Sean was compelling in what he could offer, and his direct style and approached was exactly what I needed. I quickly gained focus and became clearer on my objectives. I felt the coaching fast-tracked my return to work and sped up my ability to add value to the business. I had initially felt overwhelmed and this stopped quickly. There was no comforting or discussing the highs and lows of parenting, it was 100% business and outcomes focused and that was exactly what I wanted. I have just returned from number 3 and delighted to be working with Sean again.” - Jill Downey, Managing Director, Core Sponsorship.

“I would highly recommend Sean to a professional services firm looking to build and foster a team of influencers. Sean has an innate ability to introduce and engrain intuitive and very effective tools which can quickly and easily be brought into your discussions with both external and internal customers. He reveals his proven techniques of effective networking through to influencing and rapidly enables you to focus on your customers real needs and transform your firms assumed differentiators into compelling messages for a customer. Not only was the coaching insightful and extremely relevant, Sean's style also made it very enjoyable!” – Gary Mullane, Director at BearingPoint