How to find an Executive Coach

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You know you are one of your company’s high potential managers. A future leader, perhaps.

Your MD feels that you will benefit a lot by having an executive coach. “Smoothen a few rough edges” he says. It is now your call. You will choose your coach from a panel your CHRO will present to you.

Speak to some one who has gone through a coaching experience, before you meet a prospective coach. Find out what exactly happens. What worked for him and what did not.

Now how do you decide who is right for you?

Here a few useful tips:

  1. 1. Read the profile of each coach. What leaps at you? What do you find intriguing?
  2. 2. Do you get a feel for what he is good at? Do you get an indication of how he might be able to help you?
  3. 3. What is his track record as a coach? What was he doing before becoming a coach? Was he a CEO/Senior Leader in his company?
  4. 4. Did he work in a fast growing organisation or volatile environments? Has worked outside India?
  5. 5. What is your gut feel? Would you like to meet this person? Would it be worth your while?
  6. 6. Choose to meet those who come from industries different from your industry. Meet people who seem to be quite different in terms of background and experience. (Avoid the temptation to meet some one similar to you or from your own industry. You are hiring a coach, not a consultant).

Meet not more than 3 prospective coaches.

How should you handle your ‘chemistry’ meeting, with your prospective coach?

  1. 1. Remember you are hiring an expert, perhaps much older than you are. However, don’t get overawed.
  2. 2. Remember the coach too has an option to choose to work with you (or not). If he is an experienced coach, he will sense whether you are meeting him under duress. Or you are genuinely interested.
  3. 3. A good coach knows how to ask powerful questions. Don’t volunteer information; watch how he leads the conversation and elicits information from you. If he is talking too much about himself and not listening enough – he may not be the coach for you.
  4. 4. Ask him a few pinpointed questions and see how he responds. For example: “How would you measure the success of this engagement? What would make you say you were effective?” Good coaches will answer this question with conviction and clarity. Others will dance around.
  5. 5. Ask him what you need to do to make this work. How much time would you need to spend? And what would he need to do?
  6. 6. What happens if you are not able to spend time as agreed? What would he do?
  7. 7. Finally ask yourself “Would I go on a dangerous mission with him? Can I trust him?” If you do NOT get an unequivocal YES, to this question, don’t think twice. Drop him from your shortlist.

Good luck.

— R. Sridhar

 

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