Finding The Best Executive Coach: Top Ten Qualities To Look For

Leadership development can be enhanced with the rightcoaching modelandan experienced executive coach.  Executive coaching is really about changing the attitudes,beliefs, and behaviors of an organization's key contributors, in order to helpthem perform at a higher level and derive greater satisfaction from theircareers.  

If you agree that leadership development is about challenging and changingattitudes and behaviors, then you would probably agree that the process is apsychological one that requires a great deal of training and finesse on the partof the coach.  The executive coach must have advanced training in thebehavioral sciences, which includes a broad understanding of how to applybehavioral change methods to the workplace.


What should one look for in a good executive coach?  The coach must:

Possess strong rapport building and trust developingskills.  An expert coach knows how to build trust with individuals at all levels of theorganization.  The coach is able to use effective listening skills to builda relationship based on trust and mutual respect.  This goes way beyond theability to understand business activity and is really about "understandingpeople."

Be a skilled diagnostician.  We know that almost everyone brings their personal life and personal baggage into the workplace, so the coach must know how to harness and direct that energy.  A coach must be ableto discover and understand those issues and how they impact the workplace. An expert coach brings to the table the ability to accurately assess thebarriers that prevent forward movement.

Know how to increase anxiety and positive motivation in order to accelerate the change process.
An expert executive coach knows that sometimes you need to "nudge" thecoaching candidate to take a few risks and be open to new options.  One wayto accomplish such a goal is to increase their anxiety and thus there motivation to besuccessful.  

Conduct a comprehensive assessment/audit relying on a detailed life interview, multi-rater feedback instruments, state-of-the-art objective tests, and performance data.   An expert coach will utilize an effective goal setting and action planning strategythat is based on a comprehensive evaluation of the individual andorganization.  

Utilize on-the-job "behavioral experiments" as the everyday method to drive behavioral change.
One of the best ways for someone to learn new skills is to "trythem on" at work.  A coach helps design "behavioralexperiments" that challenge the candidate.  

Develop a strong partnership between the candidate and a change partner.  Expert coaches help the candidate discover and develop a partnershipwith a person who is there to provide encouragement and support and to celebratesuccesses.  One goal of all coaching should should be linking the candidate withsomeone that can be their mentor.

Show the candidate how to tap into their own motivations so that they can take ownership of the  coaching process.  An expert coach teaches the candidate how to discover the motivation andcommitment to take the lead in determining the direction of the coaching.

Have a toolbox full of behavioral change techniques available to help build the energy required to achieve lasting performance enhancement. 
Acoach has experience helping individuals change theirbehaviors.  The coach can "dig" into a reservoir of techniquesthat can help create an environment conducive to positive change.

Know how to utilize adult learning theory to further the change process. An executive coach knows how to apply adult learning theory to the coachingprocess.  Adults tend to learn the best through "activeparticipation" in a skill building activity... a "behavioralexperiment" in the workplace.  

Know which behavioral patterns predict success and which ones predict derailment.  An expert coach is constantly watching for behavioral patterns, lookingfor signs that predict success or derailment.  

Thereare a few more qualities that I haven't listed, but this is a great place tostart the discussion about executive coaching.  Please take your time toevaluate all coaches before you hire one.

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