Successful leaders know that they can benefit from outside insight. You can build success faster and sustain it longer when you have outside expertise, which is why many professionals seek the services of executive coaches.

A great executive coach can see what you cannot see. They are on the outside looking in. As your coach observes your life, asks questions and gathers facts, solutions begin to emerge. Your coach helps you clearly see your options and the decisions you can make to advance your life, leadership and the organization you lead. The right coach brings leadership knowledge and experience, provides fresh insight and expands your thinking, builds your confidence and skills, ensures you complete your goals, and models excellence.

But before you hire an executive coach, it’s a good idea to determine if you’re ready.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Have I reached a point in my company or career that I feel stuck? Am I not sure what to do next to move forward?
  2. Do I need a strategist to examine my life and leadership and help me build a comprehensive growth plan?
  3. Is there a need in my life for someone to challenge my thinking, disciplines and actions?

If you answered yes to two or more of these questions, you are prepared to move forward with hiring an executive coach. But once you determine you would like to engage an executive coach, how do you select the right one? That’s a great question. Based on my 16 years of experience coaching executives, here are the three critical factors to consider in order to select the right coach for your needs.

A great Executive Coach shows their successful track record

A great coach should exude confidence and a contagious excitement as they give examples of prior successes. You should be fascinated as they describe individuals and organizations they have helped to reach new levels of excellence. Ensure their leadership and coaching philosophies are sound and make sense. For example, one of my coaching philosophies is “lead by example.” I believe the most powerful expression of leadership is to exemplify the qualities you want others to model and follow.

Beyond exemplifying confidence and excitement, make sure that the executive coach you are interviewing is a seasoned veteran who knows how to get results. One of the best way to determine if a coach is a veteran is to ask him or her how many action steps their clients complete in a year. My average client completes 50 unique actions steps each year to substantially advance their personal and professional lives.

 A great Executive Coach helps you visualize the future

The best executive coaches are excellent listeners and strategists. They are highly skilled at guiding you along the winding path to success. Great coaches have trained ears to hear your goals and then translate them into actionable next steps. They also help you develop strategies to increase your success and harness the power of people around you.

When you’re talking to your executive coach, the future should seem brighter and the path to realize your dreams should be clear and compelling.

 A great Executive Coach has solid life experience to vouch for their guidance

Ask the tough questions. Remember, you’re choosing a trusted advisor to help direct your life and leadership. He or she will be a significant influence in your life, so you want to be sure they will be an exceptional one. Ask specific questions about their personal and professional life to ensure that they’re an example of excellence for you. For instance, I talk about my marriage and family, lifestyle, nutrition, exercise and other disciplines. Finally, check their social media and interview a few of their past clients.

It’s important to note that every executive coach has specific strengths and weaknesses. No coach is an expert in all areas of life and leadership, so research whether the coach candidate you are interviewing has the strengths and expertise you need.

If you’re ready to significantly advance your personal and professional life, consider finding a qualified coach who excels in the areas you need support in.