Over 2,000 mentors available, including leaders at Amazon, Airbnb, Netflix, and more. Check it out

Executive coaching: How to choose the program that's right for you

If you are a manager, you may need to consider hiring an executive coach at one point in your career. Executive coaching can help provide you with an opportunity to manage better your teams, direct reports, and other employees.

An executive coach helps managers identify, clarify and guide them towards achieving various goals. These coaches are qualified professionals and experts who help managers and leaders gain self-awareness to develop and improve their interpersonal skills.

Why do you need an executive coach?

This form of coaching helps connect the link between leadership effectiveness and organizational performance, supporting leaders in achieving successful outcomes.

Don’t take executive coaching the wrong way — no longer is coaching a stigma, but a way for organizations to invest in their leaders and help them achieve their potential.

An executive coach can help you gain self-awareness through an action plan. Rather than blindly following rules, understanding the reasoning behind these rules can help leaders become more ambitious and achieve more challenging goals.

An executive coach can help you see your strengths that you may have been underestimating. You can then lean into these strengths and use them to aid your team and organization effectively. At the same time, through coaching, leaders, employers, and business owners can develop skills to resolve interpersonal conflicts whenever they arise.

A good executive coach can also help you envision your goals and targets. They can help support you on your journey to growth within your organization. Good executive coaches should be honest with you, keeping you in check towards achieving your goals throughout your coaching sessions.

Process of coaching

A typical coaching process for executive development and other leadership roles can go from 6 months to a year and can be done face-to-face or virtually.

This process typically involves different phases from assessment to goal setting and development planning. With a development plan, leaders can have an outline of projected growth for the organizations. This plan can also help identify skills that need to be improved or learned to achieve the goal itself.

  • The first step in coaching is creating a deeper level of understanding between you and your coach. At this phase, your coach will want to understand you better. This includes both your work and personal life, how you work, and your motivations.
  • You and your coach will then identify goals and milestones to track your progress to achieve measurable outcomes. This can be through interviews or feedback given to the coach to see the areas that can be developed. As mentioned, your coach is meant to be a third party, looking at the bigger picture. This means they will be able to see you as a person from a different angle, one similar to your colleagues — while you may think you are meticulous, your coach may not.
  • With this information, your coach can then work together to identify these blind spots to help you find opportunities for personal growth and self-awareness. This can be done through different methods and techniques to help you obtain the desired change. The coaching process will be over once these professional development goals are achieved.


If you are considering hiring an executive coach, whether it be for your or someone in your team, it is essential to be aware of these risks to avoid negative results.

One of the biggest problems with executive coaching is that anyone can be “qualified” as an executive coach. There are no barriers to entry in this industry, which results in an increased risk of undertrained coaches making promises they are unable to keep.

To avoid this risk, here are some things you should be wary of before hiring a coach:

  • Quick and simple solutions are not effective. Leadership development needs time and effort, with coaches needing to understand behaviors and find ways to improve and alter them.
  • There should be measurable goals that need to be achieved. Some coaches may attempt to drag out sessions and manipulate the professional service relationship. Aim to create a plan with milestones and development objectives to keep both you and your coach in check.
  • Coaches should understand their clients on a deeper level. Coaches should be able to identify their clients’ needs to help them achieve their goals successfully. This means coaches should understand how you change and are empathetic to you and your needs.

Choosing the Best Coach

Choosing a coach takes time and not something you should randomly pick. Here are some steps you can take to help ease the process of selecting a coach:

Step 1: Find your coach

Online platforms such as MentorCruise have coaches with skills and expertise that may be relevant to your needs. Choose wisely and make sure that their experience is right within the context of your situation. Often, startup business owners make the mistake of choosing an executive coach with enterprise experience. Startup business owners may need startup coaches that know how to build and scale teams at the same time!

As some successful coaches do not advertise, you can seek them out through networking and word-of-mouth referrals. Personal endorsements through past experiences can help you have a better idea of how the particular coach works.

There are multiple managers and leaders who have had experience with executive coaching and do not mind sharing. Checking references will also help you better consider which coach will help you achieve your goals. Ask former clients how their coaching experience was like and if it was effective in the long term.

Step 2: Set expectations

Having expectations on what you would like out of your coaching process will help you identify which coach can help you achieve your goals. This does not have to mean setting measurable expectations as of yet. Your coach will help you with that later on and how they are as a person.

Some expectations can include:

  • The ability to listen
  • The ability to understand on a deeper level
  • Interpersonal style
  • Past experience
  • Qualifications

Step 3: Set up interviews with at least 5 different candidates.

When choosing a coach, it is ideal to pick one with a personality that checks off all your boxes. Interviewing a range of coaches can help you better identify which coach will be the right match, giving yourself the benefit of choice.

During the interview, ask about their references and their background. This will help you get to know them better, especially how they coach and how they were trained.

If you want professional certifications, some International Coaching Federation (ICF) accredited coach programs you can look out for include:

  • ACC: Associate Certified Coach
  • PCC: Professional Certified Coach
  • MCC: Master Certified Coach

You should ask them about their coaching process during the interview. This allows you to have an idea of what you will be doing during coaching sessions. The coaching process should include assessments such as goal-setting procedures, review procedures, meetings, and a clear end date.

Getting the Most Out of The Executive Coaching Process

Now that you have decided to get an executive coach, here are some ways you can get the most out of this process.

The most important thing to remember during this process is to be willing to be coached. This means putting in time, energy, and effort into growing and developing yourself. During this process, have an open mind. Be willing to try new ways and things to improve yourself, even those that may make you uncomfortable.

Remember that you are as accountable as you choose to be. The results at the end of the process are determined by how much effort you decide to put into the coaching process.

Tip 1: Set aside time in your calendar to fulfill development steps created during your coaching sessions. This also means clearing your mental and emotional space to mentally prepare yourself to achieve your goals.

As coaching sessions are completely confidential, you will need to trust your coach and be honest with them. If something is holding you back from reaching your potential, you should be comfortable enough to discuss these issues with your coach to allow them to help you better.

Tip 2: Being honest with your coach, trusting them, and telling them the whole story will help the coaching process. This way, your coach will have a better idea of how to lead you in the right direction.

If a method of coaching isn’t working out for you, let them know. There are many different coaching models which you and your coach can try out. Some coaching models include:

  • G.R.O.W Model

This model is widely known in any form of coaching. This model represents four different stages in a coaching conversation — Goal, Reality, Options, Way Forward. During these stages, the coach will help their client create a goal to work towards.

  • T.G.R.O.W Model

This a variation of the GROW Model. In this model, T stands for Topic — an area that the client wants to address during the coaching process. The rest of this model follows the traditional GROW model.

  • OSKAR Model

This model provides a more flexible framework to help one develop skills and knowledge to achieve their goal. This model builds upon the original GROW model. The five stages in the OSKAR model include — Outcome, Scaling, Know-How, Affirm & Action, Review.

In this coaching model, coaching sessions are designed around focusing on solutions rather than the problem.

  • CLEAR Model

This coaching model includes five different stages — Contracting, Listening, Exploring, Action and Review. This model helps generate ideas, allowing one to see the particular situation differently from before.

Depending on what area you would like to work on, coaches should be flexible enough to adapt to your needs.

Communication between you and your coach is essential to help you achieve maximum results.

Find an Executive Coach with MentorCruise

Executive coaching has become popular over the past few years and has shown significant influence in organizations that use this service. Of course, for results, you will need to be willing to go through the coaching process.

Use platforms like MentorCruise to find a trained and experienced coach to help you reach your full potential. This platform can help entrepreneurs and early-stage professionals alike in assisting them to improve on themselves to be better leaders.

Although there may be risks, being aware of them can help you reduce them and help maximize the change of an experience with successful results.

Find an expert mentor

Get the career advice you need to succeed. Find a mentor who can help you with your career goals, on the leading mentorship marketplace.