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What are the questions to ask potential executive coaches?

We just raised an A and I'm the market for an executive coach. It's not a "hire" I've ever made and they are not cheap. Aside from "what's your approach" i'm interested in hearing what questions I should be asking these coaches.

26 Replies

Dennis Bernstein
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Dennis Bernstein Entrepreneur
Business and Organizational Development
Hi Lucas, I imagine that you know exactly what you are looking for from a coach. In many cases the people I have worked with don't even know why they are working with a coach. Some Execs need communication coaching, others strategy, others leadership etc... You should ask them the following questions: What are their strengths as a coach Describe a typical coaching session? How are they different from other coaches? How long have they been coaching? What types of businesses have you worked on and in what capacity as a coach? Explain from your perspective what the ROI is? and why? Many coaches have been successful executives in the past, that doesn't necessarily translate into being a good coach or advisor. In good health and spirit, Dennis Bernstein REFERRAL NETWORK RESOURCES, LLC DENNIS BERNSTEIN Managing Partner T [removed to protect privacy] @denbernstein DISCLAIMER: Sender is NOT a United States Securities Dealer or Broker. Sender is a Consultant and makes no warranties or representations as to the Buyer, Seller or Transaction. All due diligence is the responsibility of the Buyer and Seller. This E-mail letter and the attached related documents are never to be considered a solicitation for any purpose in any form or content. Upon receipt of these documents, the Recipient hereby acknowledges this Disclaimer. If you are not the intended recipient, you are strictly prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing or using any of this information. If you received this communication in error, please contact the sender immediately and destroy the material in its entirety, whether electronic or hard copy. The entire attachment to this e-mail transmission and the contents hereof may be privileged and/or confidential information intended only for the personal and confidential use of the individual or entity identified above. This electronic communication is covered by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, Codified at 18 U.S.C. ?? 1367, 2510-2521, 2701-2710, 3121-3126.Also, see: http://www.ftc.gov/privacy/glbact/glbsub1.htm -Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act 15 USC, Subchapter I, Sec. 6801-6809
Gary W. Patterson, Find your blind spot before it finds you
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Finding the Million $ Blind Spot: Before It Finds You $ FREE tools @fiscaldoctor.com

Biggest question to see how to help you is:

What type coach or expertise are you looking for?

You have a number of people here in this group who do some version of coaching, mentoring or VBA.

Ram S. Ramanathan PCC, BCC
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Leadership Coach and Mentor @ Coacharya
Hi Lucas, most importantly you need to decide what you want the coach for, and what your desired outcomes are.
Having become a coach after a successful corporate leadership and entrepreneurial career, my take is that the value a good coach can add to you is in aligning your head with your heart and guts in planning your business growth, so that success comes along with happiness and other qualitative values, rather than at their cost.
Ask the coach whether he/she can help you discover your purpose in life, how you can align your value systems with business growth, how you can be of service to others through your success, and most importantly how you can chart a map for your life so that 25 years from now you do not regret the path you have taken.
If the coach can, ask to explain how!
Coaching is about quantum transformation, not step wise transactional improvement.
John Philpin
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John Philpin Entrepreneur
People | Passion | Platforms
what dennis said - and a whole lot more - his last point is key - kinda like being the best ball player doesn't make you the best manager ... etc ... for any decision - i like to fast forward 1 or 2 years - and ask myself "as a result of that decision - what will be different about that future?"

/J
Julie Reinganum
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Julie Reinganum Entrepreneur
Board Director | Mentor & Coach to CEOs & Sr Execs who want to enhance their global business knowledge & drive profits
Hi Lucas,

Lots of good ideas above. As to the questions to ask a potential coach, I would add:

1. How will you hold me accountable for my commitments?
2. How will I know I am gaining value from coaching?
3. What makes a successful coaching relationship?

J


Paul Field
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Paul Field Entrepreneur
Agile Leadership Coach - Helping you focus on business value, collaboration and innovative solutions
All the above are good questions you could ask a potential coach. And another option you have is to let them coach you for a session (many coaches will do a free "strategy session", which will be a coaching-based meeting) - you'll get a feel for the chemistry with that coach, whether their style works for you and whether you get value from the session. So, I'd suggest shortlisting based on the questions other people have suggested and then trying out your 3 favourites. And one good test is that you ought to be a lot clearer on what you want from coaching and your vision/objectives for yourself/your company after that session.
Patrick T. Malone
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Interim President & CEO at Blairsville Union County Chamber of Commerce
Don't worry about the question you should ask. The right executive coach will ask you questions about what you want to achieve, how you want to go about that etc. You might need a couple of questions at the end but you will know what those are based the the questions the executive coach candidate has already asked you.
John Berg
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John Berg Advisor
Privately Held Semiconductor Company
Lucas:

As a computer science grad, you are probably self-aware of have four states of knowing:

You know what you think know:hire employees to execute these tasks.
You know what you don't think you know: hire employees or consultants to figure this out and hire employees to execute it.
You don't know what you think you know: hire an executive coach to identify these blind spots and hire subject matter consultant to solve this class of problems.
You don't know what you don't know: hire an executive coach that pushes you to be extremely uncomfortable with your assumptions and your biases.

Average executive coaches transform the individual from a state of not knowing to a state of knowing. (Yes, average).

Although that transformation is important, it is not the most important transformation. The next level of transformation is from a state of knowing to a state of being. Knowing and being are different states.

The client transformation from lower states of being to higher states of being is where great coaches excel. It is worth the money.
Kelly Hadous
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Kelly Hadous Entrepreneur • Advisor
EdTech CEO/CTO emiisor and Win The Room Top-level Communication Training. International Speaker. Advisor
As an executive coach I think a few important questions clients can ask me is:

How will you help me reach my goals?
How have you helped other people who have the same objective as I do?
What areas do you coach in?
What have been some of your coaching success stories?

Hope this helps!

Kelly

Tom Patterson
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Tom Patterson Advisor
CEO and Founder at New Company
Lucas,
I think an executive coach could be helpful but you should consider setting up a relationship with an advisor that will be more active with you and that will have an equity relationship with your org. You whould be able to work your network to find the right person and my sense is you want someone that understands the world you live in well. they should have had to deal with and overcome the same problems that you are or will deal with. Most likely they have domain knowledge but not required. They should also believe in you as a person. I think hiring someone as an executive coach might be helpful, but i'd go out and try to develop a relationship and connect with someone to be involved with you over the a greater span of time with your company. You have that unique option as the ceo of a young company.
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