6 Important Things to Look for in Executive Coaching Companies

If you are searching for executive coaching companies, there’s a lot of information to sort through and much to consider. And executive coaching companies have been trending over the past few years, so there’s more due diligence to do than ever before. According to an industry research report compiled by IBISWorld, there are nearly 61,000 coaching business in the US, with a market size of $14 billion.

Think carefully about what you want in an executive coaching company! This is not a step to be treated lightly. Why? For better or worse, just about anyone can call themselves a business coach or establish an executive coaching company. If you want to open a law firm, you must pass your state’s bar exam. Only someone specifically credentialed as a physical therapist may open a PT practice. And in most states, you can’t open a barber shop without proof of proper training and licensure. But when it comes to executive coaching companies?… There are no such requirements.

6 Things to Look for in Executive Coaching Companies

With that in mind, here are six things we urge you to look for in your executive coaching companies search:

1. Expertise

First, make sure you are speaking with someone who is knowledgeable about executive coaching — and can demonstrate their expertise in tangible ways. Do they have command of the topic? Have they mastered the subject? Can they apply their knowledge effectively to help their clients?

Does the coaching company have the expertise needed at the level YOU need? For example, some coaches excel at coaching CEOs and C-Suite executives. Some love working to develop high-performing teams. Others focus on building the leadership skills of high-potential employees. Still others have focus areas such as emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, millennials, driving organizational change, communication, and shaping culture.

We think it’s important that any coach you engage be certified by a professional organization. The Society for Human Resources Managers (SHRM) recommends that its members, “Find certified coaches. The nonprofit International Coach Federation provides academic coaching guidelines, credentials, and accreditation to schools.” 

2. Transparency

Any executive coaching company should be transparent in how it does business with you and in how it does its work. Make sure they share their processes and the steps in the coaching engagement. There are no magic incantations or “black box” formulas for success. If they can’t or won’t walk you through their process in an open, candid, and straightforward way, move on.

And while maintaining high expectations for confidentiality, check to make sure that they will provide responsive customer service — keeping you up-to-date on status and progress throughout the coaching engagement.

3. Choice

While every great executive coaching company will have preferred coaching frameworks and approaches to coaching, they should also be adaptable to the needs of you and your organization. There should be options to customize the engagement based on the particulars of your business and the executives, teams, or high-potential employees being coached.

There should be no “one size fits all” in executive coaching. Ensure that the company you choose offers a variety ways to help you determine your coaching goals, develop action plans to navigate changes in behavior and leadership practice, and ways to measure results.

Lastly, never let any of these executive coaching companies assign you a coach! Strong coaching companies offer you the opportunity to work with a number of coaches. Based on experience and temperament, you should be able to choose your coach.

4. Results-Focused

Insist on executive coaching companies that are committed to achieving tangible, measurable results for their clients. This means that you have to be able to answer the questions, “What do I want to achieve with executive coaching? What does ‘success’ look like to me?”

Do you want to develop higher levels of emotional intelligence? Strengthen communication skills? Build executive presence? Drive organizational change? Grow other leadership characteristics?

With this information in hand, your executive coaching company should establish a plan that hammers out the details of your goals, lays out a program of assessments, coaching, and monitoring progress to help you reach your goals — including agreed upon metrics that will measure and clearly shine a light on results.

5. Committed to You for the Long-Haul

Will your executive coaching company be here next year? In three years? In ten? Is it a legitimate company with a passion for what it does and a vision for its future, or is it an individual or collection of individuals who may disappear when the next exciting thing comes along?

That’s important because we’ve found that successful coaching engagements beget long-term relationships. And that’s good for you and your company.

Sometimes the relationship grows with the organization — a coaching engagement with the CEO leads to coaching for the entire senior team, or select division or department heads. Other times, the relationship is individual. Many successful coachees discover that regular quarterly, semi-annual, or annual sessions with their coach helps them further develop their skills and continue their leadership journey. You want an executive coaching firm that will be there for you and your leaders tomorrow.

6. Sustainable Change

Remember the results we just spoke about? Measurable, focused results? Well, if three or six months after a coaching engagement ends, coachees have fallen back into old behaviors and habits, or stopped using newly learned approaches to communication, leadership, and team performance, then the results really aren’t so great are they?

So don’t be shy about asking the executive coaching company you are speaking with to demonstrate to you that their work will result in sustainable change, over the long term. They should be able to verify that their coaching results in change and leadership growth that “sticks.”

The key to sustainable change lies in the difference between “habit” versus “willpower. Most people rely solely on willpower to try to accomplish their goals. The problem with willpower is that it is, by definition, limited. Willpower is a “reservoir.” When we tap into our willpower, the reservoir’s level goes down. It needs to be recharged, and that’s the challenge. It’s simply not available all the time.

Your executive coaching company should show that it has specific, proven approaches and structures to help their clients make changes that will stick using strategies and tactics that build “habits” — a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur automatically, and with less effort — to support sustainable change.

Are You Ready to Move Forward?

To learn more about how executive coaching companies can help you and your organization develop its leadership and performance capabilities, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.