written by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

Knowing you need to find a leadership coach is one thing. How to find a leadership coach that’s a great fit? That’s another. In your attempt to find a coach who has the right skills to help you, or your colleagues, get ahead, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed because there are so many to choose from.

There’s also a lot of pressure to get it right.

After all, you’re investing your time and your organization is investing their financial resources. You want your coach selection to be a good fit as soon as the program starts.

This piece aims at helping support you in your search to find the right leadership coach for your colleagues’ growth and development.

Where to Search to Find a Leadership Coach 

While Google is a great resource for many things, it will overwhelm you as you explore how to find a leadership coach. A better place to start is by reaching out to your network for their insights, perspectives, and referrals:

  • Colleagues who’ve experienced leadership coaching before
  • Your Human Resources lead who’s invested in coaching engagements in the past
  • Managers in your organization who may have hired an executive coach at some point

You’ll likely learn from this approach that you can procure coaching services from:

  • Individuals and thought leaders who offer coaching programs, like Lead Star’s Year to Rise.
  • Groups that offer coaching stables, where you reach out to the group and they match-make among their cohort of coaches, like Focal Point Coaching.
  • You can also search for a coach from coaching certificate providers, like the International Coaching Federation.

There’s no right way to hire a coach; yet there are best practices. The top, best practice is that before you select a coach, talk with a few to find out who you believe you and your colleagues can work alongside with for an extended period of time. After all, coaching fit will be key to successful coaching outcomes.

The Factors that Create a Good Coaching Fit 

A leadership coaching relationship is like any other relationship – the best ones are where both parties feel free to share, speak their mind, feel comfortable disagreeing, and are open to feedback from each other.

As you explore how to find a leadership coach, it’s important not to just read the bios of the coaches that seem to have the right skills you’re looking for. Take the next step and schedule interviews with them so you can get a sense of their personalities and communication styles. A few things to look for:

  • Is it easy to talk with them?
  • Do you feel safe sharing your perspective?
  • Do they ask thought-provoking questions?
  • Do you get a sense that they know how to support their clients’ development?
  • Do they understand your industry?

If you don’t feel that the fit is there, there’s a strong likelihood that the program won’t work for your colleagues either. Feeling comfortable with a coach will influence how much trust a coaching program participant has with their coach. Trust, in any relationship, is the gateway to results.

Next, does the coach have the right experience?

In regard to experience, it’s not just a certificate in coaching, which are more and more common these days for anyone – regardless of skill – to obtain. To vet someone’s experience, consider these factors:

  • How long have they been coaching?
  • What’s been the range of their coaching work – Do they offer career coaching? Executive coaching? Do they coach employees at all levels?
  • What type of ROI can you expect to see from the program?
  • Can they share coaching success stories?
  • Have they had experience coaching individuals with challenges similar to your colleagues’ challenges?
  • What’s their professional experience? What’s their education background?

Finally, because you’re seeking a leadership coach, it’s important to know their philosophy around leadership:

  • How do they define leadership?
  • What important skills/competencies do they feel all leaders possess?
  • What process do they follow to develop leaders?
  • How do they assess the leadership skills of others?
  • What type of tools/assessments do they use in their programs to assess a leader’s capabilities/strengths/areas of development?

Trust Yourself When Hiring a Leadership Coach 

After you’ve done the work of talking with several coaches, trust yourself with your choice. Know that the process you went through helped you home in on a great selection. Once the program starts, encourage the coaching program participant to be specific with what they hope to get out of their time with the leadership coach. Most coaches value goal-driven conversations (and delight when their clients achieve outcomes). Plus, you and your organization will value the return you’ll receive from finding a great coach and helping your colleagues reach new heights.

Interested in learning more? Read our article about the difference between executive coaching vs. leadership coaching.

Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch are Lead Star’s founders, experienced leadership coaches, and bestselling authors of SPARK, Leading from the Front, and Bet on You. They help professionals reach new levels of success through their innovative coaching program, Year to Rise.