4 Questions You Should Ask Before You Hire A Leadership Coach

4 Questions You Should Ask Before You Hire A Leadership Coach



By Dr. James Eyring, Chief Operating Officer, Organisation Solutions



Truly successful coaching relationships, ones that prepare leaders for the next level, depend on both the leader and the coach. Most importantly, the leader has to want to be coached; they have to be willing, open and committed to the coaching process and want to develop new capabilities.  Without this, the leader won’t learn - no matter who coaches them.


Then, of course, you need to have the right coach. However, with the coaching industry growing at such a fast pace in such an unregulated manner, it is becoming more difficult for organisations to find the right coaches for leaders. A recent academic survey of the executive coaching industry found that there are major gaps between what organisations need from coaches and what many of those coaches can provide.


So, how do you make sure that you are setting your leaders up in effective coaching relationships that will bring about real results for them and the organisation. Before coaching begins, ask these four questions to help find the right leadership coach for your organisation.


  1. How robust are their qualifications? Take time to understand coach training and qualifications.  Some coaches have been through rigorous coach training and have been supervised and accredited as a coach.  Others hold advanced degrees in behavioural sciences with special training in coaching.  Avoid coaches that have only completed short training courses.  They may receive a coaching certification after 2-day programme, but that does not mean they are qualified to coach.

  2. Do they have leadership/management experience? Most companies want coaches with management experience to work with their leaders.  This helps the coach understand the challenges, issues and expectations that the leader may be facing.  By understanding this they can better target their coaching and tools.  Avoid putting coaches with no leadership experience in positions to coach your senior leaders. 

  3. Are they technicians or do they have a robust set of coaching capabilities?  This question is harder to answer.  Some coaches bring a wealth of knowledge, technique and experience to a coaching relationship. They can ask questions that help leaders have insight, they can provide feedback, be a sounding board and provide advice, tools or knowledge to support the leader.  They can help the leader change from the inside out or the outside in.  Other coaches narrowly focus their role and approach.  Avoid coaches that are over reliant on a set of tools or one approach. They may always start coaching with an assessment (and are certified only on this assessment).  They may only want to ask questions of the leader.  Or, they may be overly tied to a few tools.  Explore what the coach brings to the assignment.    

  4. Do they have cross-cultural skills? Many global organisations need coaches that can understand, have experience and appreciate the nuances of effectively working and communicating across cultures. This is particularly relevant when working with cross-cultural teams. Some coaches are trained on cultural models that can help facilitate this understanding.  Many have very little experience or training in cultures outside their own country. Make sure you add this to your list of requirements if your leaders need to manage cross-culturally.


Download the Whitepaper to get a full overview of the global coaching industry, and it gaps,  based on the latest academic research.

Dr. James Eyring
is the Chief Operating Officer of Organisation Solutions and leads the global consulting practice. In addition, he specialises in leadership and talent management and works with companies and executives to build capabilities they need to fuel future growth. As part of his role, he provides coaching to global and top regional leaders. Contact James


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