Do You Really Need an Executive Coach?

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By: Center For Worklife - Expert Reviewer

Do You Really Need an Executive Coach?

Not everyone is in the business for an executive coach. “Executive coaching-personal training in leadership from someone who provides it for a living-should be used like a powerful prescription drug that works best under certain conditions. When employed as a cure-all, it is less effective, too expensive and has negative side effects” (McKenna).

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Table of Contents

Below are five questions you should ask before making the decision.

  1. How critical is this person to your organization’s success?

    Executive coaching takes an investment of your time and money. It isn’t for everyone in your organization but instead to those who are very valuable to the organization either now or in the future. Generally this would include everyone at C-level, the heads of major business units or functions, technical or functional masters, and high-potential young leaders.Executive coaching also comes with a price tag. Expect to pay the amount that you would pay your top attorney. If this seems like a lot then consider the amount of experience and expertise you would want your coach to have. Keep this in mind, they have a tremendous amount of influence over the decisions and actions of the leader and a coach that has the expertise to quickly understand the leaders situation, challenge them and then bring fresh ideas to the table, will bring a great deal more to the table than someone who comes at a bargain.


    2. What challenges are the executives facing right now?

    Executive coaches work with people, relationships, organizations and behavioral change. Maybe you have a CEO who is having difficulties working with his board chair. Or someone who resists all ideas but their own. An executive coach isn’t the go-to answer person for all of your problems, but instead they help the individual work through and grasp their own problems. The goal isn’t dependency but self-assurance.

    3. Does the executive have the willingness to work with a coach?

    If the executive doesn’t want to change then he/she will just waste everyone’s time and money. See first if they want to change. Then look into their track record. Did they have growth when they were under the guidance of teachers and mentors? Are they open to sharing their experience? Are they realistic about their strengths and weaknesses? Do they learn from others but then do things their own way, taking responsibility for the results? If you can say yes to these, then they are definitely coachable.

    4. Are there any alternatives to hiring a coach?

    Take a look into the manager and see if they are doing their job first. Are they just handing over messy people to others because they would rather not deal with them? A manager has the responsibility to be a coach and they are already getting paid for it. Don’t outsource to an executive coach if the problem is within the manager’s capacities.

    5. Are the key people in the organization ready to support this person’s efforts to grow and change?

    Changing is tough enough but it becomes increasingly challenging when others lack support, especially key leaders. If you want executive coaching to have a great impact, then key people need to stand behind him/her and support the changes they are trying to make, not be skeptical or hostile.

    Executive coaching is a tremendous asset to an organization and will be one of the best investments you’ll ever make for your executives and key people within your organization. However, it isn’t for everyone. Answer these questions and decide if executive coaching is the answer, or if it isn’t.

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