How to choose an effective Executive Leadership Coach. Question 3 – What is your experience as a leader? This might seem obvious, but many consultants calling themselves leadership coaches have actually never lead people in a team.

A Credible Executive Leadership Coach Is An Experienced Leader

For all of the learning and reading a person has done, nothing can substitute having experience in a leadership role – making decisions, counselling / coaching and performance managing team members, holding other accountable for results, setting a clear vision – all of the things that you have to do as a leader. 

It is also worth asking the types of teams and industries that the coach has experienced leadership in – does the experience they have compliment what you are looking to develop in your leadership skills? As a member of a team, a leader or a supervisor, you will have learnt that not every team is the same. Some teams (and businesses) are a dream to work with, and others take all of your skill and effort just to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Executive Leadership Coach
The Best Executive Leadership Coaches Are Experienced Leaders As Well

Effective Leadership Coaches Have Made Mistakes

A credible executive leadership coach will have multiple leadership experiences leading teams, and be able to discuss freely and openly the mistakes that they made, how they recovered from them and what they learnt in the process. Any leadership coach that is unwilling to discuss their failures isn’t worth working with – because we have ALL made mistakes and done things we wish we could do over – and have subsequently learnt from.

I know that some of the best practical tools and tips that I have shared with my clients (and they have responded positively to) are those that were borne out of mistakes, and a desire to never repeat them. Both the Team Expectations Checklist and the AIR/BLEEDS model for personal responsibility came from seeking to correct mistakes with my team – and make a huge difference now.

What Questions Should I Ask a Prospective Executive Leadership Coach?


  • ‘What experience have you had leading a team?’
  • ‘What industries have you worked in and for how long?’
  • ‘What was your toughest experience as a leader managing people?’
  • ‘What was the biggest or most embarrassing mistake you made as a leader?’
  • ‘How have your leadership experiences shaped your leadership style?’

A credible and experienced leadership coach should be able to provide you with solid, concrete examples of how they have led teams, the number of people they have led, and the impact that their leadership had upon the teams they were working with.

Executive Leadership Coaching
A Credible Executive Leadership Coach Can Provide Clear, Believable Examples Of Their Experience

Listen for ‘I’ versus ‘We’ Statement

Listen also for the difference between ‘I and ‘we’ statements. An effective leader will recognise their impact on the team – BUT they will attribute most of the credit for performance to the team, not to themselves. It is a tricky balance for a leadership coach – wanting to show they are credible in their field with boasting or seeming arrogant – but the good coaches will find the right balance.

A really good coach will be able to share with you the wins as well as the losses. If you hear ‘I did this’ and ‘I did that’ – ask about the team they worked with. If the responses are slim, you are getting some red flags. Good executive leadership coaches are matter of fact with their successes – are humble in their impact, and you can hear / feel the pride in what the TEAM achieved, not just in their impact.

The 9 Questions To Ask When Choosing An Executive Leadership Coach

These 9 simple questions will help you identify the good from the bad, the amateur from the professional, the executive leadership coach worth paying for compared to the one that is an expensive waste of time.

  • Question 1 – Do you have a coach yourself?
  • Question 2 – Are you an accredited coach?
  • Question 3 – What is your experience as a leader?
  • Question 4 – What is your own coaching style?
  • Question 5 – Who else would you recommend?
  • Question 6 – What recommendations and success stories do you have?
  • Question 7 – What resources and tools do you have at your disposal?
  • Question 8 – What leadership assessment tool do you use?
  • Question 9 – How will you challenge me (and yourself)?

If you are talking or engaging a coach that can’t answer these 9 questions effectively – walk away! There are plenty of highly effective executive leadership coaches who can – and you deserve to work with someone that can back up what they say with action.


Focussed, personal, confidential, honest and practical – all words that have been used in testimonials to describe the Developing Leaders Executive Leadership Coaching. If this sounds like something that could be useful for you or a member of your team, get in touch with us today for a confidential chat about your needs. If you would like to read what other clients experienced and gained through the Executive Leadership Coaching process, check out our LinkedIn recommendationsreviews and testimonials.


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