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7-Point Health Check for Engaging an Executive Coach – Part 1

Engagement – The action of engaging with a task, action or event through the three centres of head, heart and gut; the state of being engaged.

Engagement in our experience is an alignment between intention and attention that creates meaning and therefore intense focus and ultimately commitment.

Jay Hedley


Hey, Jay here from The Coaching Room, thanks for checking out this article. In our experience, and from the feedback of our clients, Executive Coaching can be very powerful, even transformational or alternatively, it can be ordinary or painful; or even harmful if the functional fit isn’t right, or if the Coach themselves is inexperienced, self-oriented or poorly trained.


This article is the first 3 points of a 7-point health check for engaging an Executive Coach – a big decision for most.


Once you have read this article (and the following 4-points article), my hope is that you will have more clarity on what to look for when engaging an Executive Coach for yourself or your people. That you’ll be better positioned to engage a coach more suited to your Coaching needs, personality type and stage of development.


To start I would like to look at some of the key differences in the field of Coaching


1 – Filtering out what coaching isn’t…


The term Coaching has become synonymous and interchangeable with fields such as Mentoring, Therapy, Counselling, Psychology, Sports Psychology, Business and Leadership Training and even Consulting. Yet none of these are Coaching.


Coaching is a field of it’s own – in approach, methodology and style. Coaching has it’s own models and distinctions that sets it apart from other fields. Some other fields like to align themselves with the field of Coaching and so use the term Coaching loosely. It is firstly important to check in as to what a person means when they use the term “Coaching”.


2 – Differences in the field of coaching itself


There are many styles and approaches to the field of Coaching, as the field itself is now very broad.


So selecting an appropriate coach by filtering out what you don’t want or need, is also very important.

In our experience there are 3 main areas to look at – Approach (what is the coaching process grounded in?), Methodology (the process itself – the how) and Style (personal style of the Coach themselves, their personality, training and experience).



Coaching is generative (rather than remedial) – it is based on self-actualisation psychology (not remedial psychology) from pioneers such as Alfred Korzibski, Abraham Maslow and Viktor Frankyl (the forefathers of the human potential movement).


Coaching therefore is a facilitation conversation about accessing untapped potential through identifying hidden resources and applying them to situations and events in a new and different way.



The field of Coaching itself has self-organised into 3 core methodologies. Performance-based Coaching, Developmental Coaching and Transformational Coaching. Below I will explain each of these in more detail.


Performance Based Coaching is about identifying new ways of doing (actions, behaviours, outcomes) – performance coaching uses models such as the GROW model, the RESOLVE, SCORE or SMART models. These models are designed to identify current and desired situation, resources, actions and behaviours and finally blockages (that stop the coachee from achieving the desired results). Performance Coaching is grounded in a single context. It is a (shorter-term) commitment to an individual challenge.


Developmental Coaching is a about unlocking higher stages of development (being able to take more perspectives on a situation or event). It is about the coachee identifying and changing their meaning matrix about their self (personality) and about reality. It is about self-actualisation through development. Developmental Coaching is grounded in multiple contexts simultaneously. It is a medium-term commitment to personal and professional development.


Transformational Coaching is a more holistic and longer term approach to individual development. It includes but is not limited to freedom from typology (personality), unlocking higher stages of development, accessing and growing multiple intelligences, freedom and responsibility for states, understanding and utilising 1st à 4th person perspectives, and covering all contexts simultaneously. It is about complete transformation of the whole human being – and is a long-term commitment by the coach and client.


Style (Personal Style)

Style is personal to each coach and includes the coaches own commitment to their ongoing development. In this article “Style” includes personality, stage of development, experience and training.



Personality is the lens through which the Coach expresses his or her self in relation and response to the client. Personality affects functional, cultural, relational and personal fit (between coach and client).


In our experience, questions of personality include: Is the coach direct enough? Are they too direct? Does the coach have the flexibility and development to get themselves (their personality) out of the way? Are they collaborative or competitive?


Stages of Development

The Coaches stage of development is critical in Developmental and Transformational Coaching. It isn’t so critical in Performance Coaching however.


In Developmental and Transformational Coaching, the coach needs to be able to “Zoom” in and out. Zooming means being able remain at least one stage ahead of the client at all times (to be able to see and share more perspectives on the topic than the client can). If the coach can’t do this, they will likely frustrate the client with their equal or limited perspective, by offering obvious or leading solutions and perspectives.


Accreditation and Experience

Accreditation in coaching is contentious issue around the world, mainly because there is no single governance system or regulated coaching bodies to regulate and govern Coaching.


There are many self-appointed bodies such as ICF, MCF, ANLP, ABNLP and so forth, and all of these bodies have different perspectives on values, standards and governance. So (and this may not land so well for some) accreditation is largely meaningless in the field of coaching. There I said it 🙂


As anyone can call themselves a coach – without any formal training or association with a Coaching body, and as Coach Training programs are variable in outputting quality coaches, in our experience, accreditation alone is a poor indicator of Coaching capacity or ability.


But wait there’s more… 

As a Coach does not consult, train or mentor, a Coach’s industry knowledge and/or experience are also poor indicators of capacity and ability.

A coach needs to be an experienced specialist in human development.

Which leads us to point 3


3. How does the coach respond to difficult questions themselves?


Some important questions to ask your coach are:

  1. Can the Coach actually Coach? Do they specialise in actual Coaching
  2. How experienced are they in coaching Executives across different industries and at different levels?
  3. Do they have a Coach themselves? What does their Coach specialise in? What are they working on themselves?
  4. What Coaching models do they use? What is their Approach Methodology and Style?

So, until part 2 of this article, stay well and stay hungry!



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