February 27, 2023

3 Steps to Choosing Your Ideal Executive Coach

Leadership Development

Reading Time: 4 minutes

When healthcare executives excel in their field, they are often encouraged to seek executive coaching to unlock the next level of their potential. In fact, most high-potential performers enlist coaches to develop their professional capabilities, reports the Harvard Business Review.

In my own experience as a healthcare executive, coaching was transformational for my professional progress. I attribute much of my career success to carefully selecting a coach who was able to support and challenge me as I continued to strengthen and grow new leadership competencies.  

The right coach can help leverage your talents to optimize your efficacy, relationships, and outcomes. Emphasis on the “right” coach: Finding the coach that’s best suited for you is critical to the success of any executive coaching engagement.

In my experience on both sides of the coaching relationship, I’ve found the following components can help you identify the executive coach that’s a great match for you.

What type of executive coach do you need?

First things first: To get the most out of your investment, you’ll need to define what you want out of that relationship. 

Often, you’ll come across leadership coaches whose offer might focus on assessments and periodic coaching calls for a short amount of time. This can help with a focus on one issue but doesn’t usually go deep enough. This might work for leaders that are in more transactional type of leadership roles.  

By contrast, today’s healthcare executives require an approach steeped in self-awareness, building upon the executive’s own resourcefulness. This is a different type of coaching that, honestly, might require a longer time commitment and go more in depth. This type of coaching is often characterized by deep in-person discussions, more frequent scheduled coaching calls, sponsor alignment connections, stakeholder or 360-feedback, and ad hoc. 

Healthcare executives are expected to be more transformational leaders as they deal with driving transformational change needed to deal with the complex and turbulent nature of the healthcare industry.  These C-Suite and executive leaders are expected to move the needle faster in achieving greater impact.  

What to Consider When Researching a Coach

The following criteria should be basic considerations to ensure your investment in executive coaching is a profitable one.

    • Is healthcare experience important, or just nice to have?
      What is the coach’s background in healthcare? Do they have extensive experience working with healthcare leaders? Do you want someone who’s been in similar situations? Or do you prefer an outside perspective? Do they understand the complex nature of your area in the healthcare industry, and the various perspectives and interdependencies that exist?
    • What’s their industry-specific or vertical expertise?
      Have you verified they are experienced in the healthcare sector? Are they engaged in thought leadership, and do you find their published advice or viewpoint compelling?
    • What are their credentials?
      Do they have relevant, reputable training in the area in which they are coaching? Training and certifications specific to coaching help ensure your coach is well versed in the coaching industry best practices, and how to effectively communicate what they know to help you. Are they continuing their education to serve you best? Have you checked coaching credentials, years of experience and/or additional certifications and expertise?
    • What are your personal preferences?
      Personal preferences can be important in identifying the right coach for you. Does the coaching firm have a coach matching process to help you find the right coach for you? Coaching chemistry is also essential to the process. Do they have a coaching chemistry call to verify a mutual fit? Are you more comfortable with someone who’s been a past executive or clinical person? Do years of experience in coaching or health industry matter to you? 

Note that often these aren’t attributes you can easily discern from reviewing bios or resumés online, which are just one data point. At MEDI Leadership, we’ve done the work of vetting coaches and can match you adequately to your ideal coach during the coach match process. 

The Chemistry Call

Once you have identified potential coaches that match your criteria, it’s time to schedule an exploratory chemistry call.

Getting on the phone or face-to-face with a potential coach will give you invaluable, non-tangible information to help determine your personality fit and gauge your chemistry. 

Harvard’s research on coaching includes P. Anne Scoular’s finding: “Willingness and good chemistry were by far the most frequently cited ingredients of a successful coaching relationship.”

In addition to assessing your compatibility, your initial call should serve to clearly delineate your expectations and boundaries to determine your alignment related to goals for coaching. 

In this conversation, ask yourself: How safe or natural does it feel to open up to this person about your struggles and goals? You should feel comfortable sharing your challenges, successes, fears and joys with your coach. 

The Instinctive Impulse: The Start of Transformational Leadership

After your initial call, pay attention to your instinctive mental and emotional response to engaging with the coach.

Are you inspired to jump to action and get things done right away? Do you feel encouraged and empowered? Do you feel seen and understood?

With MEDI, you can expect a one to two-day kickoff to ensure a sustainable, successful fit. That kickoff process is steeped in self awareness and focuses on defining a custom coaching plan. The goal of the kickoff is to gain trust with your new coach, gain deeper and additional insights of yourself, and align around goals. 

Dr. Shonna Waters writes that your coach should help you see yourself more clearly with sessions tailored to you as an individual, your unique skills set, and your circumstance. 

Keep in mind that coaching is a process. A trusting relationship takes time to develop. 

With that in mind, given the right plan and person, choosing to invest in executive coaching can pay dividends on your financial, emotional, and time investment. We bring our whole selves to work and coaching usually takes a holistic approach to help you learn more about your strengths and areas of strengths used to excess that could now be limiting you in your current or future role. Having a trusted partner to walk with you as you build and strengthen new leadership “muscle” is critical to the success of your professional development and growth.  

Is now the time for you to take a deeper look at what might be holding you back? Or how you can apply the new awareness to move from where you currently are into a stronger healthcare executive?

Begin the conversation

Share this!

About the author

Deena Fischer, MA, ACC

A certified executive coach, Deena Fischer, MA, ACC leads business development and operations for MEDI Leadership.

Related content