Choosing an Executive Coach Worth Your Investment

Executive coaching is a hot topic these days. What used to be stigma (“You’re broken and need a coach?”) has become somewhat of a status symbol (“You’re so valuable that you get a coach?”). Professional athletes have coaches, singers have coaches – so why shouldn’t executives have coaches?

It only makes sense that everyone who wants to or needs to perform at the top of their game would need professional coaching. Heck, even President Barack Obama has a coach! If elite athletes and organizations think they need coaches, shouldn’t you have one too? Shouldn’t we all?

6 Factors to Clarify When Choosing an Executive Coach

Most corporate executives now see executive coaching as an investment in their organization that contributes to their overall success. The bad news is that, as with anything that gets popular, there are now numerous people jumping on the coaching bandwagon, hanging out their shingles, and offering themselves as executive coaches. It’s really the wild, wild West all over again. Anyone can claim to be a coach.

So, since there aren’t really any universally agreed-upon standards for executive coaching at this point, how do you know what “good” or even “excellent” looks like?

If you’re fortunate enough to be offered the opportunity to work with an executive coach, here are six qualities to look for that will help to assure it’s a great investment, rather than a huge waste of your time and your company’s money:

Clarifying The Coaching Process

Really skilled coaches will be able to walk you through their process. That process should include helping you define your core challenges, determining where you’re starting from, and identifying where you want to go.

It’s essential that they can describe how you’ll learn new skills and behaviors, plus how they’ll support you to transfer those skills back to work. If the coach is evasive, telling you that it’s “hard to quantify” or “up to you,” or if he or she is all enthusiasm and no practicality (“people love it!” “It’s life-changing!” etc,), you can assume that there will be very little value in their services.

Clarify Your Point Of View

A good coach will tell you that his or her approach includes gathering feedback about you from those whom you work with most. The coach will ‘pattern’ that feedback to draw a clear picture of how you’re seen by co-workers, and then work with you to decide the areas where the two of you can have the greatest positive impact on how you’re viewed, your capabilities, and your success.

If the coach doesn’t include feedback from those around you, that’s a problem; we all have blind spots, and it’s important for you and the coach to get a sense of how others see you and interact with you.

Clarify Their Coaching Skills

If an executive coach, when asked how he or she will help you, says, “I’m a sounding board,” or “we can talk through the things that keep you up at night,” or “I’m the person who’s on your side,” odds are that you could have some interesting and/or moderately useful conversations with this person – but he or she won’t do much to help you grow.

Great coaches will let you know that they can offer you useful new skills, awareness and knowledge, and help you integrate what you’ve learned into your day-to-day life.

They will be able to describe very specifically how they have worked with others to improve their leadership, management, and/or business operating capabilities.

Clarify The Relationship

Confidentiality is the most critical component to your coaching relationship. Good coaches make very clear agreements about confidentiality upfront with their clients, and they honor those agreements.

If you find that a possible executive coach is at all evasive or unclear about what’s being shared and what’s held in confidence, or if you find out that he or she has shared confidential information – end the engagement immediately.

Clarify The Success Factors

Effective coaching enables executives to be better at their jobs and to create the future (and the revenue) they want for themselves. Good coaches help their clients get clearer about how they can best contribute to their organization’s success. Exceptional coaches help their clients achieve better results and become more promotable.

If a coach can’t point to actual businesses who have improved by the result of being coached – don’t even think about working with them.

Clarify The Coaching Process

Personal coaching can be an extremely efficient and cost-effective approach to rising to the top of your game. An effective coach will help you create big change and big momentum in as few as 15 hours of coaching.

When entering into an executive coaching relationship, clarify with your coach what his or her process is for guiding you into achieving your goals. The most successful coaches have a coaching process with clear milestones for creating momentum and drive progress with immediate results.

Take Control and Create True Competitive Advantage

Engaging an executive coach can be enormously helpful. A good coach can help you see yourself more accurately; get clear about how to best play to your strengths; and grow to the highest levels in the most effective ways. He or she will be illuminating, strengthening, and trustworthy. Make the choice carefully and you’ll benefit for years to come.

As an executive coach for 15 years, I’ve assisted channel executives, owners, managers, and experienced sales professionals build cultures of high performance. The proven coaching methods that I use are backed up by 29 years of owner operator experience.


My Executive Coaching Background

My career path started out at IBM before moving on to start, build and eventually sell two technology service companies. From there, I’ve been a global channel development partner, and personal/corporate achievement coach helping leaders and teams break through to the next level. 

The Break Through Your Sales Team Needs

If you or your team needs help breaking through to the next level of performance, or if you have a friend who’d appreciate having access to me as their personal and/or corporate achievement coach, please reach out for a free discovery call or email me at

See what past and present clients have to say about our work together or check out additional blogs and podcasts .


Phil Mydlach

Phil Mydlach is a high-performance executive coach who shows people and companies how to break through to their next level of ability, growth, and performance. He partners with them as they lean into their edge to confront the fears that are holding them back.

Print Friendly and PDF