Saying goodbye to your executive coach and how to choose a new one

For the executive, professional, or business owner, having a thought partner that keeps you on track, growing and meeting your goals can be highly effective.

The right executive coach – one who supports you in developing an ability to lead while helping to grow your business or area of responsibility – can do this for you. In fact, statistics show that investing in the right executive coach has an average of 3%-10% return on investment. Because of this, the need for good coaches is growing.

However, even when you have found one that works for you, there are times when it’s necessary to make a change. It may be that your executive coach has retired, won the lottery or died. Or it can be that your current coach can’t help you move to the next level.

So, how do you handle this?

You could certainly decide to do without an executive coach. After all, chances are that you arrived at a certain point professionally without that help. At the same time, when considering the ROI described above, you may want to engage a new one.

When to make a change

Here’s a telltale sign you need to consider change: You and your coach have come far. You’ve grown immensely and accomplished some great things by working together. However, you feel stalled with this coach and are no longer able to meet new goals.

As with any helping profession, a coach knows that they cannot support development and business needs if they don’t have the training, lens and experience to keep helping you move forward. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s probably time to make a change.

On the other hand, you may be grieving the loss of a great coach. Here’s hoping they did not die, but instead won the lottery and went on to an exciting new chapter. But no matter how they exited, this still means that you are without a thought partner. And you’ve decided the value this support brings to you is such that you want to find a replacement.

Criteria for replacing your executive coach should include the following:

—Energy fit. Do they energetically feel like a good fit for you? When connecting with potential coaches, make sure that you are comfortable with the way you connect with them in conversation. Does it feel comfortable and trustworthy, or stilted and awkward? Just as you are unique in how you show up, so is the coach.

—Formal training and certifications. Where did they receive their training for executive coaching? Is this a school accredited by one of the coaching industry bodies (International Coach Federation, for example). Did their training provide evidence-based methodologies for coaching – proven frameworks that help develop people? Do they have current certifications that reflect best practices in coaching standards?

—Experience. Is the coach you are interviewing one that has a modicum of experience coaching with other executives or leaders at your level? Have they dealt with challenges similar to those you are outlining? An executive coach does not need to be a knowledge expert in your industry but must know how to facilitate your thinking processes and decision-making for the growth you seek.

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—Their approach. Can the coach outline how they would approach what you are looking for? Can they articulate their process for helping you to identify and reach your goals? Do they include a way to measure progress and success? If diagnostics are needed, can they provide these to incorporate in your work together?

—References. Can the coach provide you with 1-2 references from satisfied clients? Don’t hesitate to reach out to these references to learn more about how they felt their experience was, and the differences it made.

Executive coaching can certainly help you sharpen your leadership skills to achieve higher performance and greater work satisfaction. Choosing the right one if you need to replace yours, however, will be key to your success moving forward.

Patti Cotton serves as a thought partner to CEOs and their teams to help manage complexity and change.

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