Embarking on the path to becoming a professional coach is an endeavor that requires a strong dedication to personal and professional growth. This comprehensive guide acts as a roadmap for those who want to know how to become an executive coach.
In this guide, we will explore the complexities of executive coaching, covering aspects, qualifications, and strategies that will help you on your journey toward becoming a certified executive coach.
What is Executive Coaching?
A professional executive coach is a co-creative partner used by driven executives to support them in building their careers. Their primary role? Enhancing both personal and team leadership skills, boosting performance, and assisting individuals, direct reports, and teams to reach greater success.
In the business world, these coaches act as navigators steering these leaders through the often turbulent waters. They bring a wealth of insights and strategies to the table aiding these figures in becoming more successful.
Assessing Your Suitability for Executive Coaching
Before you jump into the world of professional coaching, it's best to take a moment to check if you are ready for this journey. First and does this type of position ignite your passion?
Are you genuinely enthusiastic about assisting people in becoming leaders? Can you motivate individuals to embrace change and reach their potential? Do you enjoy being challenged and challenging others? This is critical as professional coaches are not wallflowers but those dedicated to doing what it takes.
For all coaches, it is essential to identify your target clients and gain an understanding of what drives them. Some professional coaches are very specific, wanting only male or female clients. Others, C-Suite, new management, etc….. Some coaches will pick specific types of companies i.e. Automotive, Tech, Insurance, Non-profit, Finance, etc…. What are you passionate about?
Different Training Programs
When you embark on the path to becoming a professional coach it starts by building knowledge. A professional proven coach training program is a must! Most often you are going to want to stick to programs accredited by The International Coach Federation(ICF). The ICF is the gold standard for coaching training schools in the world today. These schools provide you with the skills, structure, experience, and insights required to become a top coach.
All human beings including Executives are complex. You need specialized skills and strategies to be a high-value-driven coach.
Immersing yourself in these professional programs brings a range of learning experiences and opportunities for discovery. All are meant to enhance your coaching abilities.
The other benefit is, that as your skills and values grow, so does your passion for coaching. You cannot sustain passion until you build skills and the confidence gained by using them effectively. You are becoming a leader of change!
Education and Certification Requirements
Knowledge and experience are just two elements required for success. Lots of people, even very successful people know what to do but still do not follow their knowledge. Or, they are accomplished, but poor at transferring the knowledge and getting others to take action. Barking orders is not leadership and will never create leaders. Here is a great example of knowledge failure. A senior executive in HR told me they had been training Emotional Intelligence for years.
They confidently(arrogantly) explained the academics of various emotions, how the brain works, and how our bodies create various hormones or chemicals that create feelings. So I agree, interesting, right? However, what are you going to do when coaching a senior executive who now is struggling with Imposter Syndrome (very common)? They are hiding in their office hoping no one finds out how insecure they are. Here is the punchline.
Knowledge of emotional intelligence is close to useless in helping this struggling executive! Explaining brain synapses is about as helpful as most of the manuals written in Chinese we have when purchasing some devices online. So while there are no certification requirements for coaches your decision is do you want to be a mediocre coach or a skilled artist of change and provide great value to your clients?
Developing Crucial Skills
When it comes to professional coaching, you need a specialized strategic toolbox. First, a coach must be an expert in communication, a masterful listener, and an adept navigator of emotions.
With enhanced communication skills, you can become a valued guide who helps clients explore concealed paths, shortcuts, and alternate routes.
If you want to travel to China and are in a row boat, it is very difficult. Having plane tickets is much easier. The problem is most people struggling are in row boats! They wonder why life is so darn difficult!
Our first job is to help the client realize they are in a rowboat traveling against the current. What is the reality of the client's situation? Now, they may need to save to get a plane ticket(part of coach discovery) but at least they have a chance to reach their goals.
Your talent for exploring a client's “map of their world” is the starting point that will transform the client's problems into opportunities. These skills enable you to effectively steer your clients through their leadership challenges—assisting them in navigating terrain and ultimately reaching their desired destination of success.
Gaining Practical Experience
Experience is critical! As stated earlier, you can be successful yourself or read 100 books on coaching and be a bad coach. We humans are much too diverse in how we create our lives and belief systems. This is actually why professional coaches love coaching because it is so stimulating, requiring intellect and creativity.
Do you want a therapist who has not been mentored or a doctor who has not spent hours learning from talented, experienced physicians? Of course not! This is why all ICF-accredited schools have both practice and mentoring requirements.
Just because you're smart and can give people your sage advice does not make you a good coach. Remember what I said above, knowledge often does not translate to success. Just because you found a path that worked for you, it does not mean it will work for the next person.
Establishing Your Coaching Practice
There are many ways executives establish coaching practices. Step number one is to identify your ideal client. Specific issues you want to specialize in, gender preference or not? Coaching for a coaching organization where you travel, or join a company that has an existing coaching culture or maybe hang your shingle and go out on your own.
You certainly do not have to have everything decided and fortunately can even change your mind if your situation changes.
Networking and Professional Development
Networking can be critical for success as an executive coach for a few reasons. First, coaching can be a lonely profession. Often we do not have a boss(thank goodness) and many coaches use Zoom or other online tools. We do not have daily interaction with peers.
As a certified ICF coach, you can belong to local or international ICF chapters. These groups meet sometimes monthly for coffee or lunch. Some coaches may give short presentations or offer different learning opportunities.
Of course, the big plus is networking, finding out about other opportunities, jobs or even forming joint ventures. A couple of our graduates from our program recently created a group coaching program together called Executive Women Living Empowered Lives.
They have a waiting list and attendees from all over the world!
As we all know success is achieved by overcoming challenges. While it might appear some entertainers, movie stars, sports stars, political figures, and business leaders were just handed the keys to success, that is simply a lie.
This is the same reason talented, skilled coaches are in high demand. Coaching has a proven track record of drastically speeding up clients' accents to greater success. Why, because we are experts in helping clients overcome challenges.
All human beings have blind spots, areas where they cannot see all of the options. Profession coaches and the strategies used turn these blind spots into options and opportunities.
If you are ready for a rewarding, challenging career we would love to have you join us.