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How to choose a quality executive coach in the UK

23 May 2018

Lequin were one of the first executive coaching companies, and in the last years we're seen an explosion in the number of executive coaches, the vast majority not fit for purpose.  

So how do sift the wheat from the cowboys?

The real acid-test to is to have an experienced coach-faciliator listen to coach perform over a series of one and two-hour coaching sessions. But we're aware that when HR and L&D people are vetting executive and career coaches (to add them to their executive coaching pools) they do not listen to executive coaches' coach - they simply don't have the luxury of time or for some, the experience to vet this way. (In fact, we've yet to come across a company that has listened to their external coaches perform!) 

However, when Lequin are looking to employ an executive coach to join our team at Lequin Leadership Development, here are the additional 7 key credentials:

  1. Executive coaching experience: We require at least five years’ executive coaching experience. We like to see experience coaching senior leaders, middle managers and junior staff and across different functions, so an executive coach is well rounded and knows how executive and career coaching works differently at different levels.  
  2. At least seven years’ experience in a leadership position: While executive coaching is not consulting an executive coach does need to understand how organisations work first hand, and have experience leading so they’ve the empathy (and knowledge when required) to really help a coachee.
  3. Executive coaching accreditation: Executive coaching accreditation is an indication that an executive coach has approached his / her executive coach training in a professional manner. We look for either ICF or (the more recent) EMCC accreditation for our executive coaches. 
  4. Executive coach training from a reputable executive coaching institution: There’s been a huge rise in the number of coaching institutions over the past three years. We prefer institutions that teach the co-active coaching model and ones that have been training for over five years. One of the most reputable coaching institutes is the CTI. Note: As a supplement to a coach’s toolbag, NLP is useful but when it is a coach’s only qualification we are wary. NLP is directive, which takes personal responsibility away from the coachee placing emphasis on the executive coach to fix rather than help the coachee solve through his/her own exploration.
  5. A commitment to continual personal development: Lequin coaches have a long list of coaching, training and profiling qualifications, which demonstrate their commitment to keeping up with the latest developments in the industry.
  6. Coaching supervision: All Lequin coaches have supervisors. Supervision ensures an executive coach is working on his / her skills and working on the ongoing coaching relationship to ensure they as coaches, and not just the coachees, are turning up to the sessions fully prepared.   
  7. Quality client feedback: When vetting a new coach, we will always contact past clients direct to get feedback on their coaching and client management. And once a Lequin coach we work closely with clients to continually collate information to evaluate their performance.

The most cost-effective, efficient and the safest way to choose a coach is to go through a reputable coaching company. They will have gone through the arduous task of vetting 100s of freelancers’ CVs, checked references, ensured they have supervisors, and will have feedback on the effectiveness of their coaching first-hand from clients. They should also know a coach’s personality and style and who they will work well with, which is critical at the matching stage.

A quality executive coaching company will also have done the single most important thing - listen to a coach coach. At Lequin, if a coach meets all the 7 selection criteria above we then invite them to attend a selection day, which include interviews and role-playing exercises. Understanding how to spot good coaching is a skill, and we use qualified facilitators.

To put the difficultly of finding good, experienced executive coaches into perspective Lequin have been in business a decade and from the hundreds of CVs we’ve seen we’ve found only a handful of exceptionally gifted, well qualified and experienced coaches fit for purpose.  Mediocre coaches are easy to find, exceptional ones increasing rare.

Who are Lequin Leadership Development?

Lequin Leadership Development provide executive coaches, business coaches, executive business coaching, coach training courses, coach training, coaching skills for managers, coaching culture programmes, board coaching, outplacement support, executive coach, coach supervision, executive coaching, talent management, change management, coaching training, change management training, leadership coaching and leadership development.

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