STEP 1: Self-assess.
It may sound trivial, but don’t overlook this critical step. Do some soul-searching to decide whether a career in coaching is right for you.
No, your life doesn’t need to be perfect. But you do need to feel an innate desire to inspire positive change in yourself and others. Regardless of your age, life stage or experience level, the decision to pursue Executive Coaching should be based on an inner calling to serve others and the companies they lead.
So, ask yourself: Are you driven to understand and relate to the strengths and weaknesses of others? Are you able to show up with compassion and empathy? Are you willing to share your own transformative experiences to cultivate deep, rich relationships? Do you connect with people and feel motivated to use your natural abilities to help others succeed?
Answer these questions first, and if you find that the pieces fit, you owe it to yourself to make this path a reality.
STEP 2: Enroll in an accredited coach training program.
Graduating from an accredited coach training school requires a serious investment of your time, energy and financial capital, so be sure to choose a program thoughtfully. Consider whether each program option takes its mission and curriculum as seriously as you do. Compare school philosophies, methodologies, learning approaches, lesson content and access to ongoing support. Your program selection should also provide you with the opportunity to specialize in Executive Coaching so you can acquire more specific knowledge, skills and tools in this area.
While there are many coaching certifications out there, only a select few programs are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), the coaching industry’s governing body for coaching and training schools. Since there are over 200 coach training programs available in the U.S. alone, choosing one with ICF accreditation is a distinct advantage.
There are three different types of accreditation or approval that the ICF offers: Accredited Coaching Training Programs, Approved Coach Specific Training Hours and Continuing Coach Education.
For a comprehensive coach-training experience, look for an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP). ACTPs require at least 125 hours of coach-specific training that ensures participants have a thorough knowledge of the ICF definition of coaching, ICF Core Competencies and the Code of Ethics. Participants are observed during coaching sessions and must complete a final exam to ensure their coaching competency.
Many leading corporations select Executive Coaches that have a mix of rigorous coach training, ICF credentialing and specialization-specific tools to demonstrate the depth of expertise and competence in supporting high-potential executives.
STEP 3: Earn your professional coaching certification.
To become certified as a professional coach, you need to complete a program with an established set of core competencies and be evaluated on your proficiency in these areas. And although you don't have to be certified before offering Executive Coaching services, there are some significant, career-defining reasons to earn your professional coaching certification.
For starters, it’s an easy way to stand out in an increasingly saturated market. It boosts your reputation, establishes you as a true professional and provides an instant layer of legitimacy. Like it or not, prospective clients and employers will assign more value to an Executive Coach who has invested in a training program. They’re quicker to trust you, as well as more willing to pay handsomely for your services if they know you’ve been certified.
In addition, participating in a certification program equips you with the tools and techniques to be truly successful as an Executive Coach. And when you’re part of a community of certified coaches, you’re able to access a wide circle of peers, mentors and friends should you need to reach out.
Don’t forget, the coaching industry is still fairly new in the grand scheme of established careers, and there’s a great deal of room for change as the field continues to expand. In fact, certification may become the standard one day. In the meantime, having the competitive advantage of coaching certification will serve as a major stepping stone on your journey to becoming an Executive Coach.
STEP 4: Leverage the support of a mentor coach.
Having the resources to succeed as an Executive Coach is just as important as having the knowledge and certification, and you can benefit immensely from working with a mentor coach. Some coach training programs offer access to a mentor coach (and their coaching community at large) as part of their holistic model of student support.
STEP 5: Land paying clients, an Executive Coaching position or some corporate coaching contracts.
If you’ve chosen the right coach training school, the curriculum will have included either a strong business development program to get you familiarized with key business principles and comfortable talking with potential clients about your services, or specific training on how to utilize your Executive Coaching skills within an organization.
Interested in procuring a role as an internal coach? You’ll need to market yourself as a qualified employee based on the training, certification and experience you’ve acquired.
Planning to start a business as an Executive Coach? It’s time to put on your entrepreneurial hat. Use the training, tools and resources at your disposal to build the business, attract clients and forge successful relationships. Prepare yourself with Executive Coaching agreements and questionnaires, call prep forms, worksheets, surveys and centering activities, and business development and marketing tools.