The Difference Between a Good and Great Executive Coach

Many businesses are looking to executive leadership coaching, and for good reason. Studies are finding that coaching is helping executives to improve their confidence and leadership skills, resulting in enhanced productivity and company morale. One Fortune 500 company did a study of the ROI of executive coaching and found that 77% of respondents found coaching to have a significant impact in their businesses, citing employee satisfaction and overall productivity as the greatest impact. Executive leadership coaching isn’t just a luxury reserved for large businesses. Many smaller to mid-sized startups are also building coaching into their budgets and are glad they have.

Yet the widespread adoption of executive leadership coaching isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. It’s important that the legwork is done to find a coach that fits with you. You are looking at the candidate’s qualifications as well as their general vibe. You want someone who resonates with you. Someone who is present in the whole sense, for the duration of your meeting. Contact the references listed on your coaching candidates resume, and, if possible, double check any education, training, or certification they claim to have. Because there’s truly a clear difference between a good (and great) executive coach.

The “Good” Coach

Following a coaching session, one should feel empowered to make sound decisions and have a sense of clarity. A coach to be avoided is anyone who works with circular logic. For example, “What do you want to talk about today?” is not a best practice for executive coaching. Furthermore, short-term plans of action are generally regarded in the industry as weak-coaching practices. A solid coach will equip their students with the tools necessary to develop their own plans of action, tailored to each situation which may arise. Be on the lookout for jargon that one might hear on an episode of Dr. Phil. No company, large or small, needs to pay an executive coach to say things like “…think outside of the box” or “…the universe is telling you something”. Make sure you’re getting applicable and effective input from your coach.

The “Great” Coach

A great coach should help their clients navigate through the waters of change and indecision with listening and thinking, using a more cerebral and logical approach, rather than a lecturing, judgmental, barking method. Look for those with a goal-oriented approach such as, “What would you like to see accomplished during this session?” A great coach should guide you to a place of making your decisions with confidence in your abilities, rather than using guilt or force to get you there. A great coach wants to see their clients succeed and grow into a more self-aware leader. Keeping in mind that you are human and so is your coach, you may also want to find a coach who’s been through a thing or two themselves. Someone with real-life experience and perhaps a few hard knocks under their belt. Trial and error are still solid learning tools. A great coach who has had to pull themselves up from the trenches and overcome obstacles will have more practical methodologies to impart upon their client. It’s more than just looking for a pep talk, however, and the great coach you should be seeking will have actual programs, data, and proven applications at their disposal. Don’t underestimate education either. A great coach is someone who values learning and growing, stretching in order to better serve clients.

What Our Coaches Think

According to John Burt, Master Certified ILEC Coach, the differences between a good coach and great coach can be summed up with these three thoughts: 1) The depth and breadth of real experience a coach can tap into for their clients’ benefit, 2) The ability of the coach to effectively connect these experiences and references to those challenges the leader is facing, and 3) the ability of the coach to build rapport and trust with the leader such that leader feels the coach truly gets them and is willing to change.

Master Certified ILEC Coach Dennis Pierce offers the following take: “A great coach must possess a genuine passion to serve, the willingness to listen intently, and the experience to combine empathy and strategy, to craft a roadmap for tangible results with their client. A great coach must recognize the responsibility that comes with the trust their client has placed with them, and work diligently to continuously earn that trust and build that relationship with their client and their teams.”

The proven benefits of hiring a great executive coach are plentiful. In an industry flooded by the mediocre, don’t lose heart in your search for the right coach. Because there are extraordinary coaches to be had. Once the best fit is found, business leadership can flourish with the help of a qualified and passionate coach. Since 2010, the Intelligent Leadership Executive Coaching team has used a proven blueprint to coach more than 1,000 leaders, global CEOs—including top government leaders, and athletes—to help them become stronger, more effective, and vibrant leaders and people. There is no true competitor who goes as deep into executive coaching as ILEC.

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