What do I need to do to become an executive coach?

21st June by Lee Robertson

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One of the most frequently asked questions here at the AoEC is ‘what do I need to do to become an executive coach?’ It is often a huge question mark for those who want to embark on career in executive coaching, but don’t know how to make the leap. To help make more sense of what is involved, we asked some of our Faculty for their top pointers on how to make a successful transition from corporate life to having a coaching business.

1 Ongoing professional training and development is paramount

First up, don’t cut corners in your training. Meeting the competencies laid down by the professional bodies is important and any worthwhile training will ensure this is achieved. However, being a good, great or outstanding coach goes way beyond skill and is about who you are and the work you do on yourself.

The same advice goes for your ongoing professional development. The science of executive and team coaching is always evolving and being qualified is just the first step. A bit like passing your driving test – the work to become a properly competent driver comes with supervision, continued development, practice, confidence building and embedding the skills you have learned so they become almost automatic.

2 Professional accreditation underlines excellence and ethical practices

Your journey will most likely begin by completing a programme offered by a credentialed coach training provider. Accreditation and credentialing are offered at various levels depending on your level of experience and skills and will set you on the path towards becoming directly accredited with one of the industry’s professional bodies.

Qualifying with a professional body like the Association for Coaching (AC), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) or the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is not a legal requirement, but it does stand you in good stead when it comes to working with organisational clients.

Businesses are increasingly recognising that coach training does not always equate to high standards of operating, so being accredited offers reassurance to potential customers that you know what you are doing and are bound by a reputable code of ethics.

3 Self-discovery and being true to yourself

One of the more surprising elements of coach training and becoming a coach, is just how much work you will be required to do on yourself. Many who come through the AoEC’s Practitioner Diploma in Executive Coaching programme find themselves having to grapple with the soul-searching question of ‘Who am I?’. So be prepared to take a long and careful examination of your thoughts, values and feelings because it will form the basis of who you are as a professional coach, help you develop your own personal coaching model and influence how you show up to clients.

4 Practice makes perfect

As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Look for coach training where there is a big emphasis on experiential learning and applying your coaching skills as often as possible. You will be required to find practice clients as part of your coach training, so be prepared to get stuck in from the beginning. Like any other training, when you do something many times, you learn to do it well. Experiential learning is incredibly valuable as it helps embed new skills more quickly than simply just reading about coaching techniques and theory.

5 Invest in your brand

When you are making the leap from employee to business owner, be mindful that your brand is built around your story, your why and you.  

Acknowledge the transition that comes with taking on the new identity of your own boss. You will naturally be cautious and may feel daunted and overwhelmed but embrace the new opportunities that lie ahead of you.

Back yourself and with time will come confidence. Also investing in decent branding and website at the early stage of setting up your own practice will soon see a return on your initial outlay.

6 Don’t go it alone

When you start on the pathway to becoming a professional coach you may find yourself forming lifelong social and professional bonds with those who are on the coach training with you.  

Keeping in touch with other coaches is like staying with your tribe. They can help you with shared understanding, shared language, continued support and challenge.

But don’t neglect your existing social and professional networks as you make the switch to your new career. Involve your contacts in what you are doing from the start. Tell them about your plans and bring them on the journey with you. Whether it is using them as practice coachees during your coach training, or them recommending you to others in their wider network, there is a generosity of spirit out there and you will find that people genuinely want to help you do well and succeed in your new venture.