Good Coach Bad CoachAlthough it may seem over dramatic, your career and physical health in the c-suite can depend on finding the right guide for your ascent up the organizational ladder.

According to a recent Forbes Magazine article about executive coaching, 33% of executives have coaches and 66% would like to have a coach if they could find someone they trust and believe is competent.

In a climb up Mt. Everest, one in every 10 expeditions has a climber who dies. A fascinating fact is that they most often die on the descent to the lower altitudes in the “death zone,” after they have experienced the exhileration of the summit. They typically die because of not knowing the terrain, from exhaustion and mistakes.

The coach is the key, not unlike the Mt. Everest Guide. As in the case of a guide to the mountain, some guides send their client happily back to their friends and family and homes. Others leave them buried in an avalance somewhere on a mountainside.

Finding the right executive coach depends on the following factors:

  1. Engage an executive coach whose primary goal is to help you discover and deploy your strengths. Organizations are now most often hiring executives because they have high potential. Nonetheless, after a person who is being coached goes through a 360-degree assessment and several other assessments, you need a coach who first discovers your strenghs and brilliance. If your coach is treating you like a limited player and a wounded soldier, “Run!”
  2. Look for an executive coach—not a psychological therapist. Executive coaching is not psychological therapy—it’s about developing the mental, physical, and organizational skills to succeed. It’s about business acumen, not just emotional intelligence. Therapists look for pathologies and trauma. A competent executive coach does not do therapy, is not qualified for that role, is not licensed as a therapist, and, frankly, is uninterested in doing it.
  3. Find a coach who knows organizational contexts. A must-have qualification of an executive coach is that they have an accurate inside understanding of organizational dynamics. The executive coach must know organizational dynamics that include c-suites, boards, and everyone from the VP level to the entry level employee.
  4. Hire an executive coach who is skilled in personality type. A primary tool is a personality type assessment that produces an accurate 4-letter type code. In our professional experience, an understanding of personality type enables you to manage yourself and to apply type in order to manage conflict and deploy people effectively.

Executives accept the challenge of scaling an organizational peak that is much more intricate and dangerous than Mt. Everest. A skilled coach/guide will enable you to see the wonders of the highest acheivements. Most fear to go where you go; having a great coach will help you get to that pinnacle.