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8, November 2017

What to look for in an executive coach

In my 15+ years in the business, I’ve been asked what someone should look for when choosing an executive coach. Here are the most important issues to consider.


The number one thing about hiring a coach is the chemistry between the coach and the coachee. As you choose a coach, consider:

  • Can you trust the coach with the most important and confidential matters in your life? 
  • Will the coach do everything they can to make sure that you achieve your coaching objectives – including following up with you as often as you need? 


Look for experience in coaching similar situations. The specific industry is often less important than having worked with people in similar roles or under comparable circumstances. The right coach will have been down the road before and can draw from that base of knowledge. A VP in a large public company has a very different work dynamic than the President of a $25 million private company.


Every executive coach has a toolbox they use to address the situations they encounter. Some coaches are part of a franchise, so their methodology is largely pre-determined. Other coaches use a variety of tools, choosing the right ones for each particular situation.


Look at the coach’s client list. An impressive resume is a plus, as it gives you some assurances (and references). A long and wide-ranging client list also indicates the breadth of experience the coach will bring to a new challenge. Cross-pollination of ideas between different business types is a major benefit of a coach with extensive experience.


At its most basic level, a coaching relationship is about getting results. Look to see what kind of results the coach has delivered across a wide variety of situations. This can also include ratings by participants of the overall effectiveness of the coaching relationship.


In most situations, successful coaches have received a variety of certifications as proof of their enhanced ability to work with clients. These can range from attending seminars to enrolling in higher education programs. While there’s no substitute for “street smarts,” it’s good to have some “book smarts” in the mix, too.

Thought leadership

When considering a coach, most people prefer working with someone who has demonstrated thought leadership. Whether they’ve written a book or delivered a powerful original training program, the ability to show original content is often indicative of the creativity the coach will bring to every unique situation.

If you are considering an executive coach for an individual or a leadership team, please contact us. At Barr Corporate Success, we’re proud of how we measure up on these critical criteria and we’d be happy to demonstrate that. We promise to create the ideal coaching program for your exact situation.

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