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Sales Leadership
Mar 31, 2016 | Robert Terson
An executive coach can help you to grow your career and your business by finding your areas of strength and those where you could use a little more improvement or training. He or she will also help you to shape your strengths and apply them to becoming a true leader in your field.

If you are an executive, up and coming manager or have your own business, an effective coach can help you to make it even more successful – but it’s not all work and no play. A coach will help you to improve the balance between work and leisure and can guide you on a path that leads to the fulfilment of your life’s vision.

There seem to be executive coaches behind every bush these days, but everyone agrees that not all executive coaches are equally good. Here are my top 10 characteristics of a great coach:

1. Self-awareness:
Executive coaches have to teach their clients self-awareness in order to help them to recognize their full potential. It’s impossible to teach what you don’t already know and practice in your life, so an executive coach has to be self-aware and understand how his or her actions and personality impact others.

2. Emotional Intelligence: Emotions affect our decision-making more than we realize. An effective business coach has to know the emotional elements that may come into play during the coaching process and adjust his or her approach accordingly.

3. Excellent communication skills: Having the cleverest executive coach in the world won’t help you if he or she is incapable of communicating effectively. It’s not just about being able to talk: a coach has to be able to actively listen. A great coach should be able to listen to half-formed ideas and poorly expressed concepts and sum them up clearly and insightfully.

4. Respect: A strong coaching relationship requires mutual respect and empathy. If these two elements are not part of the relationship, nobody is going to benefit from the intervention. An executive needs to be able to feel free to confide in their coach without fear of negative judgement.

5. The creativity to customized the methodology: Every company and every executive is different and may require the application of different coaching methods. If a coach is determined to apply a ‘pet theory’ rather than explore a variety of options with you to find the very best fit, you shouldn’t be working with them. ‘Off the peg’ solutions and ideas can be found in books or on the internet. You need a tailor-made fit.

6. Quick learning and rapid understanding: A coach has to become intimately familiarized with your business no matter how complex it may be. He or she has to get to know and understand the people, processes and goals of a business. It may have taken years to build a highly complex business, but the coach has to grasp how it all works and understand the dynamics within the business quickly and insightfully.

7. Lifelong learning: An executive coach may be there to guide a learning process, but coaches also need to be able to show ongoing growth and development in their own personal and professional lives. If they can’t do it for themselves, they won’t be able to help you.

8. Vested interest and a strong motivation to help: Great coaches take an honest interest in the businesses they help and the executives they coach. If you want to see a good coach get really excited, talk to him or her about past successes and watch them light up with enthusiasm. Once your prospective coach gets to know you and your business, that’s the kind of interest and motivation you should expect to see.

9. Applying a two-way exchange of energy and knowledge: Coaching differs from mentoring. A coach needs to access and guide your ideas rather than just telling you everything they know. A coach is there to help you drive your own success – not to ‘take over’.

10. A good coach sees coaching as a calling: For the truly excellent business or executive coach, coaching will never be ‘just a job’. To a great coach, coaching is an art – one that they have been improving for years and which they will continuously develop.

Originally posted on

About the Author
Robert Terson of and author of “Selling Fearlessly: A Master Salesman’s Secrets For the One-Call-Close Salesperson.” He retired in January, 2010 from a 40-year career of selling advertising to small business people, 38 years of which he owned my own company, to write, speak, and help others succeed.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.
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