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“How to succeed as an Executive coach?” my friend Prashant was asking me on phone, he was starting his first assignment in a few weeks. I said, “Sure, will discuss. Why don’t you come over for a cup of coffee over the weekend and we will chat up.”

Saturday evening in my terrace with a simmering hot coffee we started the conversation. “Prashant, to succeed as an Executive Coach there are many aspects including the right skills, knowledge, attitude and tools. To keep it simple yet effective, let me share with you 5 critical aspects. How does that sound?” He smilingly nodded his head.

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  1. Establish the agreementClearly communicate what Coaching is and what it is not (Consulting, Therapy,     Mentoring). It is very critical to understand the objectives of the coaching engagement and come to agreement with your client about the coaching process and roles. Discuss the schedules, fees, logistics and other important aspects. Clearly articulate coach’s and client’s responsibilities. In a corporate assignment the client (the coachee) and the sponsor (the senior management) may be different parties and their roles needs be clearly articulated.
  2. Build Trust: The coach needs to create and maintain a safe, supportive and open environment for the client. Rapport building is very crucial. The coach expresses genuine interest for the client’s welfare and progress. It’s important for the coach to walk the talk, demonstrate sincerity and honesty in all situations. The coach always shows respect for client’s views, perceptions and learning style. It’s important for the coach to be fully present in the coaching conversation and not carry any baggage of his own. Be open, flexible and creative to create learning opportunities for the client.
  3. Active Listening: Active listening is one of the most important skills the coach needs to have. A good coach always listens for what is being said by the client and also reads between the lines by making good use of intuition, observation of body language, tone of voice and eye contact. Build on client’s ideas and suggestions.
  4. Powerful questioning: Asking powerful questions is another great tool the coach needs to use often. Short and open ended questions lead the client to think & re-think his perceptions, beliefs and also discover new possibilities. It’s coach responsibility to communicate clearly, directly and also use language & examples that the client can relate to. Challenge client’s self limiting beliefs in a polite and respectful way.
  5. Results focusExecutive coaching conversations should lead the client to powerful actions in order to achieve the results. It all starts with effective planning and SMART goal setting with the client. Create a process for tracking progress and accountability that works best for the client. Make it a point to celebrate client’s success at every opportunity.

Prashant seemed very happy at the end of the conversation and promised me, “I will keep these 5 powerful tips in mind and practice these consistently.”

What are your best tips for the Executive Coaches? Please share your thoughts and experiences here.