• Nicole Provonchee

How to Find the Right Executive Coach for You


So, you are considering an executive coach.


If you have limited or no experience (or had a poor prior experience) working with an executive coach, it may be challenging to know what to look for in a coach or where to start. Coaching is an investment of both time and money, so finding a coach that meets your unique needs is important.


Finding the right coach really comes down to weighing a number of important factors to ensure that you partner someone that meets your specific needs. Because fit is so very important, if given the choice, I encourage people to interview and compare 2 - 3 coaches before they select a final coach.


When you interview coaches, give significant thought as to what you want out of coaching and what you think success would look and feel like at the end of a coaching engagement. Be prepared to talk about what you want to achieve through the coaching engagement. The clearer you can be around why you are seeing coaching and what you want to achieve, the better able a coach is to talk through how they would approach supporting your journey.


I advise prospective clients to evaluate coaches across a number of factors, including the ones below. You may find that certain factors on this list are more important to you, and you may wish to add a few more of your own to this list, but all these factors should at least be considered.


Background and Relevant Experience: Working with a coach that has experience in your industry or area of expertise can be very appealing. A coach with experience in your industry, or one who held a position similar to yours, is likely to know much of your industry's jargon and unique opportunities or challenges.


That said, when seeking out an executive coach, it is important to balance a number of factors. Yes, you can consider it a plus if they have spent time in your industry, working with your company or held a role similar to yours. However, know that the skills a coach brings to the table will translate across any industry. Don’t be too quick to rule out a coach that has limited or no experience with your industry or who has never held your exact role. If they are a talented, well trained coach, they can drop into any industry or any role quickly.


Questions to consider:

  • Have you ever worked in or had clients that work in my industry or field of expertise?

  • If you have not worked in my industry or worked with clients in my industry, do you feel confident you can work in my industry/with my role? If so, can you tell more about that?

  • Do you bring any unique experience or background that would be of interest to me?


Certifications and Specializations: The coaching industry has grown rapidly over the past few decades and has seen a movement toward specialization. Coaches often hold specific certifications in a type of coaching (executive, somatic, presence-based, group) or working with a certain type of client (C-suite, leaders of leaders, middle-managers, high-potential employees, leaders in transition) or a specific industry (manufacturing, healthcare, legal, banking, technology). Other coaches center their practice around helping individuals gain self-awareness and take action based around a specific assessment like Enneagram. Coaches may also specialize in working with specific groups of people including BIPOC, women or veterans.


Questions to consider:

  • Do you have any certifications or areas of specialty that you think would be important for me to know about?

  • Do you work with any specific type or experience-level of client?

  • Do you have specialized experience in any specific industry or with any specific type of role (Examples: C-suite, CFOs, COOs, Physicians, middle-managers, high-potentials)?


Program/Process: if you are receiving coaching through your company organization, the specific program and cadence of coaching may be outlined by the company. However, if you are seeking a coach outside of your organization’s program, it is important to ask prospective coaches about their coaching process. It is important to know that there are as many processes as there are executive coaches. Some coaches have a rigid process that walks you through specific modules or lessons. Other coaches are more organic in their process and follow a client-led model that adapts to the acute and long-term needs of the client. You may also encounter coaches that follow a goal focused model that centers the coaching around specific goals set forth at the start of the engagement.


Questions to consider:

  • What is your coaching process?

  • Do you use assessments or specific tools in your coaching? If so, please tell me more about them?

  • What does a typical coaching engagement look like?

  • How often do we meet and for how long in each session?

  • What can I expect from a typical coaching session?


Ongoing Training and Education: Like every other industry, the coaching world is rapidly evolving. To meet the evolving needs of our clients, coaches must continually invest in their own education and development. Be sure to ask about the ways a coach continually grows and develops his or her own skills.


Questions to consider:

  • How do you invest in yourself?

  • How do you keep up with industry trends and keep your skills sharp?

  • What was the last book you read professionally? Do you have a favorite book you like to share with clients?


No one coach is right for everyone. It is key that you feel a sense of trust and connection with your coach. A coach will ask you to dive deep and think about challenges in new ways. Throughout the coaching experience you may feel a wide range of emotions - energized, excited, anxious, fearful, cautious, thoughtful or skeptical, to name just a few. Trust will be key in ensuring your coaching engagement is successful. Taking a few hours to select the right coach for you is well worth your time investment.



Nicole Provonchee is an executive coach and strategist that works with women leaders and teams across the nation.


After 20 years climbing the corporate ladder, she started Bright Blue Consulting, where she can combine her skills as a coach with her practical experiences as a leader and executive.

Nicole is a sought-after speaker and can bring her "get out of your own way", self-advocacy, negotiation skills workshops to your organization or company. Learn more on her speaking page. Or, reach out to her today.






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