10 Things to Look for in an Executive Business Coach

executive business coachIn January 2015, The Alternative Board released a survey revealing what business owners wished they had done differently in the beginning stages of their business. Many of the entrepreneurs wished they had spent more time on strategic planning, and many regret not spending enough money on marketing and advertising. Yet, perhaps the most revealing answer business owners shared was that the large majority of them wished they had better mentors when they started their business.

According to a Stanford Survey on executive coaching, “Nearly two-thirds of CEOs do not receive outside leadership advice, but nearly all want it.” What’s stopping them from seeking out that much needed advice? For many, it’s the hardship of choosing the perfect mentor or coach. Considering the time and costs associated with mentorship, you’ll want to make sure you identify the very best executive business coach for your business. To make the selection process easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things to look for in an executive business coach.

  1. A track record of success Do a little research before contacting anyone. Consult with other business owners about who they’ve worked with, read online reviews, and consider coaches from established mentorship companies that have built strong reputations on years of success. Good business coaches have a proven record that they will be eager to share with you.
  2. Experience A great business coach has experience both as a business owner and as a business coach. Find someone who has worn both hats (preferably for several years) and who can address your business challenges from both angles. A business professional who has experienced a lot of success and a lot of failure will have a lot of good advice to offer you.
  3. Specific expertise in your field While your coach doesn’t necessarily need to come from the same industry as you, you’ll want to find a business coach that is relevant and specific. Be wary of someone that advertises too many services or works across too many industries. There’s a good chance they lack specific expertise and are likely spreading themselves thin.
  4. Accessibility This should be apparent from the get-go. If you’re having trouble scheduling an initial consultation with an executive business coach, it’s only going to get worse once they’ve signed you as a client. Ask them about their other commitments and projects. Find out what their client base and workload is like to avoid being one in a million. Business coaching requires custom strategies. Pass on any coach that treats their business like a coaching mill.
  5. Willingness to challenge you Of course, you want a coach that exhibits goodwill and support towards your business, but a little opposition is key to any professional relationship. A great business coach will challenge you outside of your comfort zone and make you look at challenges in new ways. A lot of business owners have the best luck with coaches who are strong where they are weak. The opposing viewpoint allows them to fill gaps in their business processes.
  6. A large network Seek out a business coach that is well-connected, so in turn you become equally well-connected. An effective business coach can open doors for your business by introducing you to the right people. Likewise, if a business coach has a large network, that’s a good sign that they’ve had success with other clients.
  7. Accountability Your business coach should be equally concerned with you achieving your goals as you are. They’ll check in regularly to make sure you’re accomplishing tasks and sticking to your agreed upon path towards success.
  8. Generosity The best coaches become coaches because they want to help others. That should be at the core of their mission. Your mentor should love teaching, because it means giving back, and it should be very obvious in their approach to coaching. If it seems that they are dragging their feet, or that they have contempt for their clients, you don’t want to deal with them.
  9. Trust You don’t have to be best friends with your business coach, but you should have a friendly rapport. If you don’t feel comfortable or don’t trust your coach, you can’t make any progress.
  10. A concrete process The Alternative Board promotes the power of planning for every business owner, and the same holds true for every executive business coach. When TAB member Rick Maher, CEO of Effective Human Resources, Inc., first decided to seek out a mentor, the critical piece he was most concerned with was “a process that had to be followed, a regimen.” According to Maher, “I wanted to see it and understand it before I chose my coach. The Alternative Board has a very deliberate process. The process is the only way I can see success.” Avoid mentors who are shooting in the dark; seek out someone who has a specific plan for helping you achieve your goals.

When Susanne Meyers of Daily Affiliate Tasks decided she needed an executive business coach, she had a hard time finding the right person. “I wasn’t at a point yet, where I was comfortable spending a couple of grand on a coach, plus many of the coaches I came across just didn’t seem the right fit for me and my business.”

Meyers is not alone. It can be extremely difficult to pinpoint the perfect counselor, even when you know your business really needs one. Don’t be afraid to shop around and meet with more than one coach before making a decision. The Alternative Board’s Business Coaching Sessions simplify the process by providing you with a trusted advisor who can help you work through business challenges and opportunities to increase performance. TAB has perfected its proprietary coaching process over the past twenty-five years and continues to build its track record of satisfied business owners.

 

The Perfect Business Conference Playlist

business conference

One of my favorite parts of planning our annual Facilitator Conference is selecting the music. We want the music to be upbeat. Create energy. Selecting the right music can be tricky. Just like good humor, selecting the right music should be subtle. Anyone could select the most obvious tracks. I aspire to find the right combination of tracks that reinforce the theme – while not being too obvious. As you think about your conference and events, here are some thoughts on great picks to accompany your events.

As folks are gathering for the conference open, I recommend playing a combination of high energy music with upbeat themes. Story in Your Eyes by The Moody Blues is a great pick. The lyrics are complex but I’ve always found this to be an inspirational song. It sets the tone that teach attendee should work to take away from the conference what resonates best with them. If your conference or event involves change, how about REM’s It’s the End of the World (as we know it)? Maybe that pick is a little obvious. A great wrap-up tune for the intro series is Tamacun by Rodrigo y Gabriela. This one is all instrumental but has just a positive, upbeat feel to it. It puts people in a great mood.

Another good pick, especially for change-based themes, is Bob Dylan’s Times They Are a Changin’. We have a lot of Bob Dylan fans in the office and so this track has a lot of meaning to us. Another great session wrap-up tune is Santana’s Everybody’s Everything. Another high energy song about change: Get Ready!

If you’re looking to get the attendees engaged for day two, consider this eclectic mix that spans 60 years as attendees file into the room. First, we start with I Hear Music recorded by Billie Holiday in 1940. Next, how about Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon. Even if you have a younger crowd, this is a catchy and positive tune that attendees will be humming to themselves throughout the day. Finally, consider the infectious Just My Imagination from The Cranberries (1999).

One of my personal favorites for conferences is the sweeping and beautiful Praan composed by Gary Schyman. I first became exposed to this music from the Where the Hell is Matt (Harding)  2008 video. This music is so unlike what attendees typically hear at a conference that it would make some attendees think “now this is different”. For the keynote address, go back to 1968 and select Classical Gas from Mason Williams. I think all keynote addresses should be proceeded by Classical Gas! Really sets the tone that something important is happening.

So, that’s my list. I had to run out for an errand right in the middle of writing this blog. Suite: Judy Blue Eyes was playing from Crosby, Stills & Nash on the radio. Well, there’s always next year.

What do you think? Other recommendations that would fit in with this mix?

Remember to discuss music licensing with your facility coordinator prior to the event to be sure you are legally covered to play copyrighted music. Many venues have built-in blanket agreements with performance rights societies, but if they don’t you might be responsible to pay an additional fee as explained in this article on music licensing for trade shows and conventions.

business conference

As Vice President of The Alternative Board, Dave is responsible for executive oversight of all Information Technology, Marketing and Member Management activities. In this role, Dave continually seeks ways to marry technology with process to improve TAB brand awareness. Ultimately, Dave hopes to support bringing the TAB value proposition to significantly greater numbers of business owners, consultants and transitioning executives.

Dave has over 20 years of consulting, product development and technology experience across many different industries including telecommunications, hospitality, healthcare and financial services. Most recently, he was Chief Information Officer of ResortQuest International, a vacation property management and real estate company. Prior to that, Dave spent five years in business consulting with BearingPoint, leading a variety of consulting and Information Technology programs for various Fortune 500 companies.