An executive coach is a broad title that can be applied differently, depending upon who your client is. In short Executive coaches are professionals who assist other professionals to achieve their dreams and professional goals.
As an executive coach, your job will be to improvise your client’s management and leadership skills. Along with that, the responsibility of the organization’s development and support will rest on your shoulders. Your client will look upon you for business consultation and making crucial decisions.
The demand for executive coaches has seen a sharp rise in recent years. Reason being, the productivity of the employee matters and it matters today more than ever before to the organization.
If you have a passion for driving someone else out of complex situations through your expertise, you can become one!
I won’t go into many details of executive coaching since I am aware that you are here because you are searching for the “HOW” part.
“How to become an executive coach”- This question is hanging on your mind, right?
Let me tell you that there are various factors that you need to take care of if you want to become an IMPACTFUL executive coach.
I have tried to cover the entire process below with all the additional details that you would require for becoming an executive coach.
I am confident that by the end of this article your search for the “HOW” part will come to an end.
So, let’s start!
What are the responsibilities of an executive coach?
If you are aware of your responsibilities as an executive coach then you are actually one step closer to becoming one!
The responsibilities would depend more on the individuals/domains that you are dealing with.
For instance, if you are coaching individuals in HR management then your major task would be to curate ways how to best align the human resources with the company’s strategy. Additionally, to develop the strategic functions of HR management.
On the other hand, if your coachees are project managers then your prime responsibility would be giving guidance on complexities and requirements in large-scale projects.
Apart from that, you would be mentoring them to construct complex and strategic project plans. This would also encompass training the individuals to lead with confidence by understanding the project’s risk, cost and deadlines.
Irrespective of the specific domains/individuals, your client should gain the following from you:
- Increased clarity and focus of mind
- A greater sense of accountability
- Growth of confidence level
- Increased potential to develop and challenge ideas
- Ability to provide an unbiased view
Why not have a look at a day in the life of an executive coach to understand better!
What skills do you require to become an executive coach?
Now that you are aware of the prime responsibilities, it’s time to look for the vital skills that you should develop in order to build a solid presence as an executive coach.
Let me explain this through a scenario.
Suppose, you are booked to give six coaching sessions to an HR who already has an experience of 30 yrs. Now, as a coach your skills are put to test to satisfy the individual.
I will outline 5 skills that I believe will ensure the success of these coaching sessions.
- Deep listening: You should be able to listen both- what is told and what remains untold. Along with hearing you should be able to read the body language. The way a person changes position, tone etc. reflects the level of engagement. Establish a confidential space where someone feels comfortable to ‘release the truth’.
- Art of questioning: Questions which encourage an answer in either “Yes” or “No” mostly, will stop you from getting a hold on the situation. Questions need to go far deeper and must reflect the subject’s perspective rather than your own. You can have a look at this list of 44 Powerful questions that every coach MUST ask to understand the type of questions that you should pose.
- Art of giving feedback: You should know how to give honest feedback and that too in a positive way. Moreover, the feedback should lead to self-discovery of the client so that it is more likely to be internalized.
- Asserting your presence: You client should connect with you in the first session itself. You should try every way to build a strong connection that emphasizes that you are striving hard to bring in the transformation in your client. You need to empty your mind of everything else and concentrate just on your client.
Additionally, I believe that for training individuals into building leadership skills, you must imbibe the below two elements.
The context of leading an organization should be crystal clear
A deep insight into the context in which your clients are operating is inevitable. No, I am not asking you to be an expert in the industry but you should have some leadership experience relatable to that organization. If you are exposed to the dynamics in theory only, it would become really difficult for you to analyze the complexities.
You will have to understand the degree of organization politics, each level in the hierarchy that is involved, interpersonal norms, complexity in working etc. You will have to place yourself in similar situations to understand the context thoroughly.
Develop and demonstrate mastery of self
As a coach self-awareness, self-monitoring and self-management are critical to your effectiveness. Moreover while working with someone to help them with their leadership skills these are even more pronounced.
You need to first develop the personal and interpersonal leadership skills that your clients are aiming to develop. Model self-leadership by doing some deep work on yourself before doing it on others.
What qualifications do you require to become an executive coach?
Do you? No, you don’t actually!
Still, if you have a foundation in business, human resources or psychology then that’s a plus point. While an advanced degree isn’t required an MBA or a graduate degree in either business or psychology can bolster your knowledge and confidence.
Should you get professionally certified?
You can start executing your coaching practice today itself without any certifications. Still, if you have earned some, that makes you market-ready.
Imagine the above scenario where your client was someone with 30 years of experience. Obviously, nobody wants to get mentored by one who has fewer candles on his birthday cake.
So, what will matter here? Certifications?- YES, to some extent since this builds credibility.
Below I have explained the procedure for getting professionally certified.
- Meet the experience requirements
For instance, to become an ACC( Associate certified coach) with ICF you need 100 coaching hrs, 75 of which must be paid. You can gain this experience by working with startup professionals or local business.
- Collect your documents
Keep all your documents(clients’ that you have coached, copies of invoices, payments received etc.) in one place. Though ICF doesn’t ask for it, it does reserve the right to audit your docs.
3. Submit an online application
Apply for certification online through the ICF website along with a certificate that you have earned from an accredited training program (most credible accrediting organizations are the ICF and GSAEC).
Pay the fees after submitting the form. Fees for associate accreditation are ranges from $100 to $300, higher levels may cost up to $775. Note that you will have to renew your credentials once in every three years.
4. Take the assessment
Within 4 weeks of applying you will receive a link to the assessment. You will need to take the assessment within 60 days of receiving the link. You require a score of 70% to pass the test. You can visit coachfederation.org for additional resources.
I would emphasize that certifications not necessarily augment the pool of your professional experience. This will only happen once you are actually on the battlefield!
How to become an executive coach- A closer look
Let’s dive deeper now. Now I will explain to you how you can build your thriving coaching practice right from the beginning.
Get your business registered
- Set up an office
Since you are beginning your career as an executive coach, a home office would be preferable. Most successful executive coaches work independently. Invest in the necessary infrastructure but at the same time avoid spending too heavily on unnecessary items.
2. Finalize your business name
You will need to choose your business name in order to register in your state. Now that can either be your name like John doe, LLC or your name along with your profession like John Doe consulting or anything else that suits you!
3. Choose the business structure and register your business
In the USA you need to choose the structure for your business model. Study the different structures and decide what best suits you. If you are not the citizen of USA check your national protocols for the same.
In the US, to register your business, you will have to state and file for an EID with the Internal Revenue Service.
The execution mode begins!
- Have a robust plan
In most coaching engagements three ingredients are missing.
- Most coaches don’t measure behavioral change (and executive coaching is about helping a leader make change).
- Most coaches fail to build accountability and transparency through online platforms.
- Most coaches still resort to traditional paper-based practice rather than leveraging technology.
You need to be sure that you don’t miss any of the above.
Secondly, try to be as unique as possible in every matter. Whether it is about choosing your niche, targeting audience, building your branding strategy etc. To make your executive coaching a success you need to find or create your edge.
- Create a website
In this digital era, building a solid online presence has become unavoidable and this starts by having your own website. Create an enchanting website with due concern to SEO and UI/UX.
Use grabbing headlines that allure the organizations who are in search of executive coaches like you. Display your methodologies, package pricing etc. in nutshell. For further details ask the visitors to subscribe to your mail list. This would help you in lead generation too.
- Promote your expertise
If you are not leveraging the immense potential of social media then certainly you are missing a huge customer base. Expand the reach of your business on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.
Webinars, videos and podcasts are another great way to market your business efficiently. Collaborate with influencers in your niche to enhance your visibility. Conduct free seminars and coaching sessions to exhibit your knowledge and expertise. Build thought leadership so that your client finds value in your words and you.
- Find a mentor
You might not need a mentor but your coaching practice requires one! Look for experienced, certified executive coaches in your niche. A mentor coach can help you to hone your coaching techniques.
How can you measure your success as an executive coach?
I can bet that in the process of coaching this question will seldom hit your mind- “How should I measure my success?”
As an executive coach sometimes it can be tough to validate that your methodologies are ultimately improving your client’s business performance. Now the quantifiable answer to this question arrives a bit later when the annual review of the employee’s performance is done. Many times the coach cannot even learn about the same to measure the effectiveness of his coaching.
Fortunately, there are qualitative indicators that you can employ to assert whether your coaching practice is proving beneficial for your client or not. Some of them are listed below.
- Focus is improved and clarity of purpose is emphasized
- Innovative and constructive opinions
- Energy is visible through body language. Posture changes
- Reflection on one’s goal deepens
- New goals are set with an increased commitment level
- The client starts opening up with you
- He/she seeks feedback from you
- Laughter happens
- Gratitude is expressed
If the above moments occur you can be sure that your coaching practice is working well.
How much does an executive coach earn?
Around the globe, the need and demand of executive coaches are rising significantly. Law firms are spending heavily on coaching annually.
According to Comparably the average salary of an executive coach in the US is 39,641. Executive Coaches make the most in New York at $41,085.
It further states:
“The salaries of Executive Coaches in the US range from $17,930 to $ 117,375, with a median salary of $ 31,000. The middle 60% of Executive Coaches makes between $66,750 and $70,050, with the top 80% making $117,375.”
Executive coaches mostly set their own rates and that can widely vary.
To ensure that you can maximize your earnings:
- Get certified. The more credentials that you have to your name, the more attractive you will be to potential clients.
- Discover your edge
- Hone your niche
- Creating digital footprints
No matter whether you possess qualifications or are coached personally, various factors will determine your potential income. The need of the hour is to keep gauging both your failures and success and reinventing your strategy accordingly.
Top ways to go ahead as an executive coach
- Gain a thorough knowledge of how business works
Most of the coaches that I meet though possess the skills of a coach but they lack necessary business knowledge. You should study and understand the terminology and the entire language of business. You should be aware of what terms like revenue, cash flow, profitability etc. means.
- Find the right tools for an executive coach
There are some great Coaching tools that you must employ to accelerate your coaching practice. While some help in efficiently managing the docs, appointments, worksheet etc. others allow you to keep a track of how many leads you brought and how many of those were converted into clients.
- Become a world expert
While you can never build a world authority on everything but you can build a world authority on one thing. If you choose a specialized niche and gain immense knowledge and experience in the same with full focus then it is not as a daunting task as you might feel.
- Build your own brand
You should be able to put their mission on a T-shirt. For instance, your mission can be to bring a positive and lasting change in leaders. Your clients will respect you more if you do not pretend to know everything about everything but instead possess a unique brand.
3 hurdles in launching your executive coaching practice and ways to overcome them
- Marketing challenge
Many training programs will tell you that executive coaching is a NICHE. If you are in one such program then you must take your money back. It sounds really vague to say to your clients that you can make them better leaders. You need to convey what value you would bring to your clients in a language which resonates with them.
As a newbie, marketing will feel like a massive task for you but believe me if you have real potential and determination you would eventually attract clients.
For this, first, you need to choose your niche wisely. For instance, you can be good at non-profit. Now, you can form a relationship with the head of a non-profit chamber of commerce in this area. You can lead seminars and market your expertise to members. If things go really well you can convert prospects into high-end paying customers.
Similarly, you might find that your potential fit best in coaching individuals in the technical domain. These are geeks who though are expert in their respective fields but lack crucial soft skills that ultimately reduces the engagement rate. Find an opportunity to speak in front of these individuals. Plan and prepare well. Who knows you can earn your next client which could even be the CEO of that company!
This offline marketing strategy coupled with online- Social media marketing, video marketing, email marketing- are sure to give you a good start. Once you earn the first few clients for yourself the rest of the marketing pieces fell into pieces easily. If you want to learn more about marketing strategies have a look at- “How do I market my coaching business?”
2. Selling challenge
Many coaches prepare great pitches for selling their coaching packages but still hardly get any clients. Do you know why? Actually, they fail to realize that you simply coach the client through the buying process.
Many coaches invest too much energy in making PPTs detailing the benefits of their services, unique value, and solutions to problems that their client never asked. You may feel brilliant after this but this approach might not bring you clients.
As a coach, you actually need to find out whether your client needs you or not. Whether he/she has the money for it or not. How they wish to work with you and whether or not they want to move with you.
So for instance, if a client is approaching you with a need of getting his strategy done, instead of delivering a speech on strategic planning, ask questions. Keep on asking questions until you agree on a price and engagement.
Remember that you are not a salesman. Learn to sell by doing what you do well-Coaching and being natural!
3. Coaching instead of being the smartest
As an executive coach, you should drive your energy to let your clients come up with their own solutions and ways to execute them. You have to listen and ask questions so that natural ways come from the client itself.
Of course, you can supplement your perspective and suggestions when the need demands. This takes longer but provides successful results. Referrals will start naturally flowing and you won’t need to worry much about marketing and selling. You will also get better in closing engagements.
It is always a good idea to get inspired by the Top executive coaches to accelerate your path in joining the list!
Finally, we have reached the end! I have tried to cover all the necessary details that would render you a fair idea about how to become an executive coach. Hope you enjoyed!