What makes IECL coaches effective?

Our Coaching Practice team, John Raymond PCC and Renee Holder have demystified how to find the right organisational coach, including the questions to challenge a prospective coach with, and points to be considered after the first meeting.

 

IECL is proud of our cadre of more than 90 exceptional coaches across the Asia Pacific region. In a market where there is an oversupply of coaches, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Even as a purchaser of coaching services, you will be required to make judgement calls about who you engage for coaching, and who you don’t. Traditionally this has been incredibly subjective; who do you like? Who has worked out before? Who have previous counterparts (coachees) enjoyed working with? Unfortunately, these selection criteria don’t necessarily match with exceptional coaches and strong outcomes. We often say to our prospective counterparts that they are the least qualified to be choosing their coach! Of course, the next question we are asked is “well what should I be looking for?” Here is our response.

Firstly, look for business experience. 

This can be a trap (you don’t want to get caught up on the snag of wondering “has the coach had a role in the same industry as me?”) but you are seeking business experience because you want the coach to understand the context of your role, not the detail of your role. Does the coach know what’s going on in your industry? Do they have an understanding of working for the size of company you work for? Do they understand the pressures of working at the level of leadership you are working at (or seeking to work at)?

Questions to ask your prospective coach:

  • What other coaching engagements / experience have you had in the industry? What do you know about what is going on in this industry sector?
  • What coaching engagements / experience have you had in similar companies? What were some of the areas of focus your counterpart worked on? How did you support him or her?
  • What do you know about working with someone at my level? Who else have you worked with at this level and what did you work with them on?


IECL engages organisational coaches who have a deep understanding of the context in which they are working. They are interested in the business world, find it interesting and are constantly curious about the changing business landscape. IECL coaches bring a depth and breadth of business experience across a range of leadership levels and industries. They’ve led teams, led projects, led change and led organisations. Through personal experience they’ve developed an understanding of system dynamics, organisational relationships and politics.

Secondly, look for coaching capability.

All coaches will tell you they are good at coaching, but how do you truly know? What can you look out for? What interview questions can you ask?

Here are some tips that may help:

  • You need to feel a degree of trust and safety with your coach, because they will challenge you through their questioning. They will challenge you to think differently, think more expansively, reveal your biases, and to look at yourself in ways that you haven’t before. Only say yes to your coach if you feel a connection with your coach, and you are confident they will challenge and stretch you in ways you’re not doing for yourself.
  • Get them to demonstrate their coaching by doing it (not only talking about it). Does their questioning help you to generate new insights and be motivated to act on those to achieve meaningful goals? Do you even know what your meaningful goals are? What questions would your coach ask you to help get clarity on this?
  • Does the coach receive regular supervision? Coach supervision helps the coach manage themselves so they can be a better coach for you. Ask them about their supervision.
  • Does your coach know what knowledge bases, research and evidence supports their approach? Ask them to explain (you don’t need to understand it all, but they do).


IECL ensures our coaches are trained (in part by IECL) and are supervised to ensure they are leading the industry in their coaching capability. We set high standards around demonstrated coaching capability and ongoing professional development and QA our coaches every year.

Thirdly, presence.

Have you ever been impressed with a CV only to meet the person and be disappointed in how they ‘presented’? Presence is both intangible and very real and is what gives the coach the relational authority to do the transformative work that coaching is. You want to work with coaches who are impressive but not arrogant. They are confident without being cocky. They have authority but are not dominating. They are with you but give you space.  A coach’s presence is what makes their skills and experience work so powerfully.

Some questions to ask yourself after meeting your coach:

  • How do you feel after having met with your coach? Uplifted? Inspired? Bored? Uncomfortable? Excited? What does your feeling tell you about how the coaching might pan out?
  • Did you feel as though you had space in the meeting to be you? (or did the coach take up more space talking about themselves?)
  • If you are meeting a number of coaches, how does the way you are feeling compare?


IECL coaches have the confidence to engage with all levels of seniority. They demonstrate an ability to build rapport, quickly, with a broad range of people – introvert or extrovert, impulsive or logical, quiet or verbose, submissive or dominant, open or closed, high energy or low energy, flamboyant or conservative and everything in between! The coach’s presence, and their flexibility to truly partner and demonstrate their own evolution are essential.

Coaching is a privileged relationship – you wouldn’t want to be coached by just anyone!

JOHN RAYMOND IS IECL’S HEAD OF COACHING. JOHN HAS BEEN INVOLVED IN COACHING SINCE IT BEGAN TO TAKE HOLD IN AUSTRALASIA IN THE MID-1990S. HE BRINGS A SYSTEMS THINKING FILTER TO EVERYTHING HE DOES WITH A STAND OUT CONCEPT FROM HIS MASTERS BEING “THE QUALITY OF THE SYSTEM IS DETERMINED BY THE QUALITY OF THE CONVERSATION”. AS HEAD OF COACHING, JOHN LEADS THE WAY IN ENSURING OUR COACHING OFFERINGS ARE INNOVATIVE AND CONTINUE TO LIFT THE BAR.
Renee Holder is a coach, mentor coach and consultant in coaching. As a senior member of the IECL since 2009, Renee has helped craft the direction of IECL as a centre of excellence for executive coaching, coach training and leadership development in the Asia Pacific region.