choose the coach
December 6, 2014

How to choose the coach who will help you grow as a leader

By Paul Laughlin

The Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) recently published a report entitled “Coaching for Success: The key ingredients for coaching delivery & coach recruitment”. There’s plenty of interesting snippets of research findings and practical advice t help you choose the coach.

If you have the time, it is well worth a read, but the points which caught my eye were a 3 stage process for coach selection. Following on from some of the concerns I expressed in my last post on coaching, I agree with the ILM that the selection of coaches often still lacks a robust structured process and so am going to share their recommended process as a good example.

This process can be used by an individual for themselves or by someone selecting on behalf of an organisation. It assumes that a long list of possible coaches has already been found.

To achieve that you could go as Wild West as a general google search on ‘coach’, ‘leadership coach’ or ‘executive coach’. However, I’d recommend starting with a pre-qualified list like the Association for Coaching (AfC) directory of coaches or equivalents from other coaching bodies.

Here then are the stages that the ILM recommend, to be used like a checklist of questions to ask (plus by way of example, I’ve added what I’d say if asked).

Stage 1: Long-list to Short-list

  • What experience of coaching does the coach have? (e.g. I could evidence my 100+ coaching hours & cite previous mentoring experience within a large corporate)
  • Can the coach demonstrate an understanding of the leadership challenges in your industry? (e.g. I’ve found some clients value my past experience in customer insight leadership or within the Insurance industry)
  • What training do they have? (e.g. I could evidence  my ILM Level 7 qualification in Executive Coaching & Mentoring)
  • What ethical standards do they work to? (e.g. I share with clients a copy of the AfC code of ethics and explain that I abide by that)
  • What supervision does the coach have in place? (e.g. I use a paid qualified supervisor, with many more years experience)

Stage 2: Getting down to the last few

  • What coaching methodologies does the coach use, when & why? (e.g. my primary tools are active listening, socratic questioning, goal-orientated models & where relevant positive psychology tools like Strength Finders)
  • What price do they charge? (e.g. average fees can vary around the country but between £150-300 per hour is typical, I normally charge £211 per hour)

Stage 3: Final selection

  • What does the coach believe they can achieve for the individual coachee/client? (e.g. this is where a free introductory meeting can help me clarify where I may be able to help or if another intervention other than coaching might help more)
  • What do they believe they can achieve for the organisation? (e.g. like an interviewee, it’s always worth doing your homework on an organisation & discussing context with the client, before you can offer a view on this)
  • Will the coach and the coachee/client get on? (e.g. at the end of the day a lot comes down to personal ‘chemistry’, so I will meet up for a chat over a coffee and let us both assess if we feel it can work)

How do you choose the coach?

I hope you find that helpful, especially if you are facing this challenge. The ILM also suggests that competency frameworks from leading global coaching bodies can help, but I like the clear simplicity of the above list.

Has anyone found another approach to selecting a coach worked for them? Please share your experience.