The No-Fail Guide To Choosing The Right Executive Coach

The No-Fail Guide To Choosing The Right Executive Coach

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Having been a buyer of coaching services as a senior HR leader for many years, and before I became an Executive Coach, I had to rely on executive referrals to find the right one. 

I just couldn’t find a practical guide geared toward senior leaders. Hence, I created the following toolkit for selecting the Executive Coach that is right for you.

This guide will focus on the golden criteria to consider when selecting the most appropriate Executive Coach. 

Firstly, and before getting in touch with any potential Executive Coach, you should be looking at the following:

1. Check the experience level of the Executive coach.

What is their core expertise, what credentials do they carry, what is their thought leadership, and their view on what Executive coaching is all about?

2. Accreditation, Degree, and professional certification.

What does their learning journey look like? Have they kept their knowledge up to date, and are they continuously looking for development opportunities in order to best serve you as a client?

3. Business understanding and sector experience.

What is their own professional background? Do they have any relevant experience in your sector or in a sector that you are looking to break into next? In other words, are they equipped with business industry experience that will prove useful to the coaching?

Make sure to ask all relevant questions that are on your mind before developing your shortlist. Once you have clarified the above three criteria, you should be meeting with 2 to 3 Executive Coaches for so-called free “Chemistry Sessions”. During these chemistry sessions, make sure to double click on the following:

4. Check whether what you learned about the Executive Coach comes to life during the chemistry session.

Are they engaged, do they possess good listening skills, what is their coaching style, do they offer rigor and flexibility at the same time, what is their style of coaching? Could you imagine working with that individual very closely for an extended period of time?

5. Coaching methodology.

What does a “typical” client process look like if you were to work with them? To what degree are they able to provide you with clarity as to what working with them may look and feel like?

„Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking & creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.“ Coaching Definition according to the International Coaching Federation (ICF)

6. Outcomes.

Will there be clear, measurable, and agreed learning outcomes? How will the outcomes of the coaching engagement be measured and evaluated? 

7. What is their understanding of the ethics around coaching?

Are they in regular supervision themselves, what about confidentiality and how will this be ensured, also contractually?

8. Are they able to provide you or the relevant HR leader with credible references and client testimonials at your level of seniority?

What concrete results have been achieved by their previous clients? What would be the cost involved for a coaching engagement and what services and diagnostics are included, and what would be charged as an extra?

9. Contracting.

How do they manage expectations in an organization? Will they involve HR and your line manager, and if so, how will that take place and what boundaries around confidentiality are to be expected, and will those be put in writing? 

10. What diagnostic tools will they use (if any), and what is the concrete value of using that tool to support the coaching process?

Will there be a 180 or 360-degree tool involved, and if so, how valid and reliable is it, and who will have access to the results?

Golden Criteria in Coach Selection – Overview

  •  Experience Level
  •  Accreditation, Degree, Professional Certification
  •  Business Understanding, Sector Experience
  •  Chemistry Session
  •  Coaching Process
  •  Outcomes
  •  Ethics & Confidentiality
  •  Credible References & Testimonials
  •  Contracting Framework
  •  Diagnostic Tools & Psychometrics


“Applying the Golden Criteria in Coach Selection will substantially increase the likelihood of landing the right Coach and ensure you have a partner on your side that will help you grow beyond what you imagined possible.” Navid Nazemian

Navid Nazemian
About the Author
Navid Nazemian

Navid Nazemian, Executive Transition Coach, PCC (ICF) - Navid helps executives and their leadership teams accelerate and successfully transition into new roles. He is the author of Mastering Executive Transitions - The Definitive Guide, a #1 new release and international bestseller on Amazon. Navid is an unparalleled expert and a thought leader in executive transitions, having lived and successfully worked in five countries across six sectors and working with C-level leaders on the same as an Executive Transition Coach. He brings to the table an eclectic background that spans over two decades of human resources experience in some of the world’s most admired organisations at country, regional and global leadership level, in both emerging and developed markets. Follow Navid on LinkedIn.

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