leadership coaches


8 things to look for in leadership coaches?

Jan 23, 2023 | Coach's Questions

Leading organizations hire executive leadership coaches to work with their leaders and team members. Why? It gets results. 

Some of the ways coaching can help an organization include:

  • Retaining top talent.
  • Keeping employees engaged.
  • Enhancing leadership.
  • Improving individual and organizational performance.

(Pro tip: If you’re curious to learn more about the real ROI of coaching, we’ve discussed the research into savings, benefits and efficiencies previously.)

Successful coaching relationships require trust and comfort working together. 

So how do you find the right leadership coaches to work with you, someone on your team or your entire organization?

Here are eight things to look for as you identify and evaluate the right leadership coaches to hire:

  1. Mindset and approach matters. Leadership coaches bring not just expertise but also curiosity to each coaching session. Does the coach you’re considering have a growth mindset? What are their values? Exceptional coaches don’t lecture or direct, nor do they guide you based on their own opinions. They listen and ask thoughtful questions to help leaders and others explore options and find their way or solutions.

  2. Credentials should be clear. According to Forbes magazine, the executive coaching industry has experienced rapid growth (valued at $9.3 billion in 2022 and predicted to reach roughly $27 billion over the next decade). That has brought a lot of pretenders into the field. Where did the leadership coaches you’re talking to study? At Padraig, our leadership coaches are graduates of the highly acclaimed Executive Coaching program at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. They are also all certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Regardless of who you work with, make sure they’re certified or credentialed by a recognized international professional coaching organization like the ICF.

  3. Consider expertise and experience. Ask prospective leadership coaches about the clients with whom they’ve worked in recent years. Do they have a particular expertise? Do they specialize in a particular industry? Were they leaders themselves? What benefit does their coaching experience offer? Finding the right coach will be a combination of personality and background.

  4. They have a proven track record. Does the coach get results? It pays to do a bit of research. How long has the coach been working in the profession? Are they able to provide testimonials from previous clients?

  5. There are options that will work for you. As you consider various leadership coaches, look for someone who is available and flexible. Most growth requires more than a single coaching session. What do the coaching packages look like? Are the coach(es) available for one-to-one coaching and group coaching? Can the client have a quick touch base with their coach when needed? Can they schedule relatively quickly when they face something unexpected?

  6. Look for client-focused coaching. Experienced and engaged leadership coaches will be attentive and seek to really understand the participant’s unique organizational experiences and challenges. Their work with the coachee will be tailored and relevant (not one-size-fits-all). 
  1. Assessment Tools. Does the coach or coaching firm offer recognized and proven assessment tools, if needed? Sometimes a coaching client benefits from new insight that comes from a trusted and proven assessment tool. Working with a coach or firm with experience and certification in those tools is always helpful.
  1. Scope of service.  If you’re looking for organizational support for leaders, you’ll want to find a coaching firm that provides all of the above and you probably also need some other forms of leadership learning – group work, team programs, leadership development courses, etc.  If you’re looking for those tools too, seek out a firm that provides them using a coach approach. That means their facilitators are skilled coaches who don’t lecture or just talk at participants but rather facilitate conversations using a strong curriculum combined with coaching questions that engage learners in bringing out their own relevant experience.

After you find the best leadership coaches to work with you, your team or the organization, engaged management support of coaching is essential to support the coach-coachee relationship. 

Coach’s Questions

What could be achieved if you or your organization worked with skilled coaches? What would help you and your team members find a good coaching match? How can your organization support finding and hiring the best leadership coaches?