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How to Become an Executive Coach

Are you ready to make tangible improvements to the face of the corporate sector? Do you have a passion for developing the future economic leaders of the world? If so, then becoming an executive coach might be the perfect career path for you.

If you’re ready to help corporations find their blind spots and adapt to changing environments, then read on. Our guide will explain everything you need to know about how to become an executive coach and guide the business leaders of the future.

Step 1: Gain a Fundamental Understanding of Executive Coaching

Executive coaching is intended to help a company grow and reach its goals. It’s a joint effort between the coach and the CEO to determine the best course for the business. Thus, becoming an executive coach requires a fundamental understanding of both business and psychology.

Know the Basics of Business

It should go without saying that if you’re going to help a business reach its goals and grow beyond them, you need to have an understanding of the field. You need to know how to analyze a corporation and business plan for its strengths and weaknesses.

However, you also need a working knowledge of how to grow a business of your own, since most executive coaches run their own practices. This includes knowing the intricacies of business and contract law.

Know the Basics of Psychology

An understanding of human psychology can prove beneficial to any field. However, it’s especially important when you’re going to coach or teach someone, be it in a professional environment or otherwise. While you don’t need a psychology degree or years of experience as a counselor, taking enough courses to gain a basic understanding can help you.

Step 2: Build Your Experience in Leadership Roles

You can’t expect to call yourself an executive coach when you don’t have any leadership experience under your own belt. In fact, many certifications will require a minimum of 5 years of professional experience. Preferably, experience within a leadership role.

So, while you study the fields you need to in the background, do what you can to move up in your current workplace. This will get you the leadership role experience that you need.

As for how much leadership experience you require, most advise between 5-10 years. This will give you the time and life knowledge necessary to offer sound advice.

Step 3: Develop Your Active Listening Skills

Whether you work as an executive coach or another pencil pusher at the office, you need to know how to listen to what someone else is saying. Not just hear their words, but listen to their intentions and what’s left unspoken.

Don’t listen to talk or ask questions to provide solutions. Listen and ask to hear and understand the responses people provide.

Remember, the goal of executive coaching is to guide the CEO to better solutions, not to provide the answers for them. Learning active listening and how to ask effective questions can lead them to the answer they need.

Step 4: Learn How to Identify the Strengths and Weaknesses of Leaders

A good executive coach will recognize the weaknesses and pain points of the CEO they partner with. A better one will know how to spot and play to their strengths. The best executive coach will understand how to discover and work with both.

The world of corporate bigwigs has, for many years, been filled with the bluster of bravado and other key signs of insecure leaders. Many executives feel that they must project an aura of extreme confidence and competence to lead their companies through tumultuous waters. That to show the faintest sign of uncertainty is the death knell to their authority.

As part of your executive coaching duties, you must know how to spot the difference between genuine confidence (a strength) and arrogance (a major weakness). Then, adjust your coaching strategies accordingly.

Step 5: Learn How to Communicate Goals and Strategies for Improvement

If you’ve ever spoken to an executive with a problem before, you’ve doubtless heard the phrase “Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions!” While this particular aphorism has come under fire (and rightly so) in recent years, there is some wisdom to the statement.

Bringing a problem that was in the executive’s blind spot to their attention helps. Helping them to discover a strategy for improving the issue is much better.

What tops our list of pro executive coaching tips? Find out how to convey your goals, points, and strategies in ways that remove your ego from the equation. This will make it much more likely that your suggestions will get implemented.

Step 6: Find the Strength to Both Challenge and Support the CEO

When you become an executive coach, you must be able to challenge and support someone in a position of significant financial power. This requires a certain amount of strength and a deep understanding of how wounded egos and psyches work.

CEOs Can Struggle With Feelings of Isolation

When most people think of CEOs, they think of the executive board of the largest, richest companies in the world. Always on vacation or in sit-down board meetings, never putting in hours at the office.

This does not speak for the experience of all executives. Some really do care about their companies and are willing to put in the hours to ensure they stay afloat. Worse, many are surrounded on all sides by jackals that would do anything to see them crumble (which is only bolstered by the way many corporate ladders reward traits of sociopathy).

As an executive coach, you must be there to listen without judgment, without an agenda. To provide them a sounding board for ideas and sometimes personal conversations.

However, CEOs Must Be Challenged on Preconceived Notions

That is not to say, however, that the executives you work with should get coddled. Indeed, coddling them is the worst thing you can do for their future success.

You may need to challenge them on long-held preconceived biases. Or find a way to tell them that they need to kill their darling pet project to avoid wasting company time and resources. Or that they need to let go of an employee that’s doing more harm than good, despite their tenure.

These conversations will be uncomfortable, but you must know how to broach them. If you’re successful, the CEO will leave the room feeling glad that you brought something new to their attention.

Step 7: Complete an Accreditation Course

Getting a certification as an executive coach requires a college degree. You also need five to ten years of consistent professional experience.

Most of these programs confer a graduate certificate within six months. You’ll need to pay several hundred to several thousand dollars for the course.

While you don’t necessarily need prior coaching experience to receive your certification, it can help with your understanding of the process.

Step 8: Start Small and Work With Startup Founders

You don’t get to work with the Fortune 500 companies that the best executive leadership coach on the market has access to right off the bat. You need to build up experience in the field first, even before you receive your certification.

Not sure how to become an executive coach when you’re getting off the ground? Try partnering with smaller, local startup companies. Work with the founders of these organizations with big dreams to help them see their goals realized.

As you gain experience working with these smaller companies, you can add their successes to your résumé.

Step 9: Acquire Professional Certification

Once you’ve got the amount of paid coaching experience and the accreditation you need, it’s time to get your professional certification. The exact amount of paid professional coaching experience required varies. The Associate Certified Coach ranking with the International Coach Federation requires 100 hours total. 75 of these must have been paid.

Make sure you’ve documented everything. Your education certificate, the clients you’ve coached, everything. Submit the application online with all the relevant information, then pay the application fee. This amount can range from $100 to $300 dollars.

Once that’s done, you’ll have to take a timed, 3-hour-long exam with 155 questions. The link to this exam will arrive within 3 weeks. Pass the exam with 70% or above, and you’ll get the notification that your application was approved. Fail, and you’ll need to pay $75 to take it again.

Step 10: Build Your Practice

Once you’ve received your professional certification, it’s time to build your practice. Get yourself a nice, cozy home office or rented office space for your professional duties. You’ll most likely work independently at the start.

Come up with a name for your business (abiding by all local statutes, of course), then register it in your state. Making your executive coaching business an LLC will reduce your financial risk and liability. However, the taxes for that may prove a bit high, so you may want to file for sole proprietorship instead.

Once you’ve got your business registered, it’s time to draft some basic documents. These will include coaching contracts and confidentiality agreements. So, make sure you brush up on the basics of contract law.

Step 11: Market and Grow Your Business

Once you have your documentation and office in order, it’s time to start marketing. For this part of the process, building a company website and social media profile is essential to your success. You need clear, laser-targeted, SEO-rich language posted on your website.

This will help you show up in the results of companies that require your services.

Your website and social media pages should also indicate your coaching methods. The average length of your professional relationship should be listed. Client testimonials, blog posts, and podcasts are other great ways you can fill out the pages of your website and advertise your services.

Step 12: Don’t Forget to Continue Your Education

You’ve figured out how to become an executive coach and now have your own business to manage. However, your professional journey is far from over. You must continue your education and professional development.

You must re-certify yourself as an executive coach every 3 years. However, in that time, you can also:

Find an Executive Coaching Mentor

Mentorship is a key part of the corporate world. The executive coaching field is no different. Once you’ve got a name for yourself, seek out others in your field and see if they’d be willing to offer their wisdom to you.

You’ll need 10 hours or so of mentor coaching if you want to renew your credentials or move on to the next level.

Attend Courses, Conferences, and Seminars

Conferences and seminars in your area can be a great way to pick up executive coaching tips from true experts in the field. They can also provide you with a platform to learn the latest developments in the world of business. Developments like a shift in office environments or the latest sensitivity training.

However, your continuing education coursework should be a key part of this. You need 30 registered, completed hours of approved, accredited coursework in order to renew and maintain your certifications.

Pursue Advanced Accreditation

As you gain more experience in the field, you’ll have the option to pursue more advanced certifications. PCC and MCC accreditations can draw in more clients in the long run, and will allow you to raise the rates you charge for your services.

Let’s Review How to Become an Executive Coach

Are you still wondering how to become an executive coach? It all starts with education and experience. There’s a lot of paying for coursework, learning on the job, and spending long hours learning new skills in order to gain the proper certifications. However, once you have your credentials, you can focus on building and growing your practice and taking on more high-profile clients.

Did you find our executive coaching guide helpful? Would you like to learn more about professional development? If so, check out the Lifestyle section of our blog for more content like this.

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