How to Choose a Leadership Coach and Grow Your Skills

Selecting the right coach for yourself is a challenging task. It begins with being proactive in setting your coaching goals, selecting the right coach, and guiding the process to ensure a valuable result. Here are some tips:

  1. Be clear about your goals for coaching; do you seek insight about the strengths and weaknesses of your current performance, practical tools, opportunities to practice new behavior, or perhaps all of these areas for development. Specifics might include managing meetings, guiding team work, dealing with conflict, influencing others, etc.
  2. Talk with your supervisor about your interest in obtaining coaching to enhance your effectiveness. Ensure that you two are aligned on your goals for coaching and that the resources of time and budget will be authorized.
  3. Audition several potential coaches to ensure a “good fit” for you – someone who seems curious about you, conveys respect for your goals, and has solid experience as a coach and as a leader so s/he can provide valuable, real-world insight.
  4. Make sure that the coach will use a credible leadership model and a survey instrument that provides the following essential information:
  • Feedback from your direct reports to discover your real strengths as their leader, as well as what they need more or less from you in order to be more successful in their roles.
  • Feedback from your direct supervisor, and perhaps the next level higher, about your areas of strength and needs for improvement.
  • Feedback from your peers to discover ways that you can be more effective in collaborating with them and any aspects of your reputation that may be unknown to you.
  • All this important information should also be displayed in reports that reveal how you compare to thousands of other leaders.
  • Be sure to select someone who can provide both support for your efforts as well as challenge for your blindsides, which all leaders have.
  1. Your coach should help you sort through your feedback to determine what information is most meaningful and useful and what is extraneous. Focus on feedback that deepens your self-awareness and points to ways to strengthen your skills. Then you should be ready to design a development plan with concrete action steps and a timeline, including time with your coach.
  2. Commit at least several months to this effort and make it a priority to get real value from it. Remember, this is an investment in your success in your current role as well as your future success.


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