4 Tips to Finding the Right Leadership Coaching Company

The concept of utilizing a leadership coaching company has been trending up over the past few years. A recent Google search for “executive coaching” generated 239 million results — and that doesn’t count “life coaching,” “business coaching,” “leadership coaching,” or any other variant. 

Many highly regarded media platforms tout the benefits of executive coaching… And they are right! The most gifted athletes in the world use coaches to fine-tune their performance and get better. So why shouldn’t executives, managers, and organizational leaders who want to broaden and deepen their skills, leverage their strengths, and improve those areas where they may be weak tap into coaching as well? Done properly, it works.

Leadership Coaching’s Deep Dark Secret

But before doing a deep dive and committing to a leadership coaching company — for you, or for executives or high potential employees at your company — there is something you need to be fully aware of. In some respects, it’s coaching’s dark secret. And it’s something many coaches — of all types — really don’t want you to think about.

So what’s the truth about leadership coaching companies? It is this: coaching is the wild-west of the business services sector. There are few rules and little in the way of requirements or oversight. It is truly a buyer beware marketplace.

Even the most mediocre lawyer has to have a law degree and pass their state’s bar exam in order to hang their shingle. An accountant can’t call themselves a CPA until they have passed the Uniform CPA Examination. Want to sell homes? Not until you earn your Realtor’s license. Do you want to start a leadership coaching company? No problem! Simply announce to the world that that is what you are and, voila, you are a leadership coaching company.

According to a 2018 study by MarketResearch.com, there were 53,300 coaches worldwide — and we know that coaching grew during the pandemic. That’s a lot of coaches! Of course, common sense tells us that a slick website or a well-designed business card does not guarantee expertise or results. However, it is easy to forget that there are no hard and fast requirements — anyone can declare themselves a leadership coaching company. So don’t be seduced by the bright shiny excitement of a trendy looking coaching firm.

How to Find the Right Coaching Program

Separating the wheat from the chaff is best done by asking the right questions.

1. What are the Coaching Company’s Credentials?

Beyond an impressive website, a YouTube Channel, and some podcast or trade show appearances, what are their qualifications and — specifically — certifications? And remember, the person selling you the leadership coaching program, such as the company’s principal or CEO, may not be the person who works with you or provides coaching to your executives.

You want to be very clear about who will be actively coaching. Demand highly qualified leadership coaches — with certification from the International Coaching Federation, the world’s leading professional organization. And don’t be shy about asking for a track record of measurable results.

2. Can the Leadership Coaching Engagement be Customized?

Many coaching and training companies (there is a difference!) package their services, with little opportunity to make changes, other than to choose between their “standard,” “gold,” or “platinum” levels.

You are looking for a leadership coaching service that can be customized to meet YOUR needs and will work best for YOUR company.

Make sure your coaching company cares about what your organization’s goals are. Ask about the degree to which their leadership coaching services can customize their assessments, coaching sessions, case studies, and exercises to address your company’s specific needs — and how they can be relevant by taking into account the realities of your work environment.

3. How “Sticky” is the Leadership Coaching Program?

“Stickiness” is the degree to which the coaching methodology, and the support materials truly promote the development of learning, behavioral changes, long-term retention, and the ability to apply what is learned.

Too many leadership coaching programs promise an unlikely time/effort-results recipe. They pledge to turn your senior executives or high potential employees into leadership super heroes in just a few days — or less! Of course, that guarantee is preposterous, but the promise of a quick payoff can be very tempting. The most effective way that a leadership coaching program will develop skills, drive change, and improve performance is to offer multiple touches on the content and apply it to specific (and real) work situations. 

4. What’s the Leadership Coaching Company’s Track Record?

If the leadership coaching company you are considering does not mention — and emphasize — these two critical outcomes, run away! You are not seeking to engage an executive coach for fun, or to conduct a leadership coaching program to make everyone feel good. So make sure you feel very confident about the company’s ability to:

Deliver measurable results. Make sure the company you are about to hire is focused on defining and building a coaching program around specific results that can be quantified and measured in some way. “Better communicator,” or “stronger strategic thinker” is a start, but it’s too vague. How will everyone know that the individuals who have received coaching are in fact better, more effective communicators or strategic thinkers?

Achieve sustainable long-term change. You don’t want your high potential employee to be a “better communicator” for the next month or two. You don’t want your vice president to be a “stronger strategic thinker” for the next fiscal quarter. You want these changes to have a positive, long-term impact. You want your high potential employee to be a “better communicator”… period! So that’s what you should be exploring and seeking out in the processes and approaches of the coaching company. Is the coaching effective, such that the new skills, new behaviors, and leadership growth will demonstrate itself long after the coaching engagement is completed?

Find the Best Leadership Coaching Company

To learn more about how a great leadership coaching company will help you improve your organization’s performance and develop leadership skills in your executives and high-potential employees, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.