Finding your match can make the difference between your coaching being an acceptable experience and a profound one. Not unlike at a professional matchmaking service, it can be helpful to interview several coaches before settling on “the one”.

Generally, I recommend interviewing two or three coaches that, on paper, meet the key selection criteria for you. Interviewing more risks creating overwhelm and indecision. Experienced coaches will, likewise, make their decision about whether to take you on or not, as they too will want to feel that there is chemistry and that together you can deliver excellence. To choose the right coach, it is key to get curious. Ask yourself and your prospective hire some good, tough questions.

But first, should you hire a coach?

It is wise to start here and ask yourself if you need a coach. My personal belief is that if you can enlist a professional to help you achieve your goals, you have little reason to stop yourself. Support can accelerate development, personally and professionally. It can help you to expand your horizons, adopt a growth mindset, and get from “A” to “B” faster than you might be able to on your own – or even sometimes realise your passion lies at “C” instead.

Good coaching, in short, allows you to show up as a better version of yourself. Working with a coach is a vital investment in a leader’s potential. If you are in a good place, if you are strong and resilient, then you can positively impact those around you. However, you will need to invest time and resources into this process, so it is worth reflecting on this before you hire a coach.

And, are you looking for the right kind of coach?

Many types of coaching are available. Among others, they include career coaching, life coaching, wellness coaching, relationship coaching, and wealth coaching. Different coaches can help us at different points in our lives and for different needs. At the time of writing, I have a coach supervisor and a peer coach and, outside of work, I have a yoga and meditation coach who has helped me feel grounded and alive. They have all been essential to my work and life. And had I not been able to draw on my own “appreciative inquiry” and general coaching skills, I am convinced that my daughter and I would have a very different and far less resilient relationship today.

When we discuss coaching in this book, we refer to executive coaching, which is when a coach partners with individual business executives to help them optimise their leadership performance and unleash their full potential, with the aim of benefiting them, their teams and the organisation. This type of coaching promises to enhance a leader’s personal and professional effectiveness as well as his or her overall well-being. Sometimes, it can open a whole new perspective and change a leader’s life for good.

Coaching has a global presence, though most coaches are still based in North America and western Europe. The coaching industry is booming; it has increased steadily, and when I searched for coaches on LinkedIn in March 2022, the platform returned over 6,00,000 hits. This surge in coaching is likely in part due to the complex, hybrid business environment of today, which has contributed to the demand for executive coaching and the low barriers to becoming a coach, which has increased supply.

However, this supply meeting demand has created a “Wild West” of coaching. Executive coaching is currently an unregulated industry. Anyone can call themselves a coach and over 500 entities certify coaches worldwide. As a result, coaching has become an industry with hugely varying quality standards, which can make it a nightmare for prospective clients to find the right match.

Three ingredients to finding a coach you will love to work with

Trust is a vital deciding factor in a field so unregulated and with so much choice. Most people don’t trust easily. To achieve success, senior executives must swim through shark-filled waters, and so they, understandably, struggle more with trusting others.

Three ingredients are necessary to build trust – credibility, integrity, and intimacy – and as the steward of the relationship, the coach will need to lead this process of building trust:

  • Credibility: The coach is qualified
  • (Motivational) Integrity: The coach and client are all in
  • Intimacy: There is chemistry between the coach and the client.

Excerpted with permission from Unfiltered: The CEO and the Coach, Ana Lueneburger and Saurabh Mukherjea, Penguin.