How to Select a Leadership Coach

womanwithcomputeronphoneIt’s not difficult to select a leadership coach who’s a good fit for you, but it will require some effort on your part.  Search online for both local and national listings of coaches in your geographic area and also ask your friends and colleagues for referrals.  Narrow your search to two to five coaches and study their websites to get a sense of their style of coaching and specialties.  Also search LinkedIn and other social media for additional information about the coaches.  Almost all coaches want their clients to be a good fit for them as well…and the  complimentary initial consultation allows both the potential client and the coach to assess questions of fit.  If the fit clearly isn’t a good one, many coaches will refer you to other coaches who might be more appropriate.

Make sure to prepare in advance for your conversation with a prospective coach:

  • Be able to clearly describe the specific issues, situations or opportunities you want to address in coaching, what you want to accomplish and in what time span.
  • Indicate early on if you are looking for coaching on the phone, in-person coaching or a mix of both; many coaches prefer to travel to meet a client for an in-person session early on and then continue the coaching by phone with periodic in-person sessions.
  • Be clear about whether you or your organization will be paying for the coaching (organization coaching rates are usually higher than those for individuals; rates may also differ between public, private and non-profit sectors and can vary considerably by geographic location).
  • Understand that leadership coaches are professionals who will have rates similar to those of other professionals you hire like lawyers or tax accountants.
  • Be prepared to ask the coach about his or her past coaching experience and credentials; most coaches will gladly send you a resume and other materials.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of prospective coaches, make an appointment to speak on the phone with the coach that seems most appropriate.  Let the coach know what your search process is  (i.e., that you’ve got a short list and are interviewing them so see who might be the best fit, etc.).  Remember to take notes.  If the first coach you call seems to be a good fit…it’s your choice whether to call the others or not.  If you’d like to proceed with this first coach, ask what their policy is regarding a complimentary session.  Some coaches will offer this session on the spot if they have time, while others prefer to schedule it in the near future.  If you have any doubts after the session, call the next coach on your list.  In any event, do send a follow up email to any coach you spoke with but didn’t choose, thanking them for their time…you never know when you might cross paths again…

How would you know if the fit is a good one?

  • The coach has experience coaching others at your level of leadership and in the same or a similar industry or sector.
  • You’re put at ease by the coach and feel comfortable talking with her or him.
  • The coach understands what you’d like to accomplish and asks thoughtful questions.
  • Your conversation with the coach has already started to give you new insights, ideas and perspectives.
  • You feel energized, optimistic and also relieved about getting help in moving forward.