Don’t under-estimate the power of real experience in Executive Coaching


By Chris Gandy

Much is written about “what makes a good executive coach” – do a search and see how often it comes up.

Most pundits seem to agree on an array of personal qualities such as trust, integrity, active listening, interpersonal skills, tough love, confidentiality, organisational insight etc. All are important, but one quality which is a standout for us that doesn’t seem to receive the level of prominence it deserves is EXPERIENCE.

Sure many, many Coaches boast experience but it is usually in the context of their own coaching record – 15 years coaching experience, 458 hours of coaching, and so on. OK, they are experienced in the “coaching experience”. But is not whats critical here.

At Cause and Effective we believe that for a coaching relationship to work, the coach and executive must be peers. They need to have observed and encountered similar things and operated in comparable environments – in other words shared similar experiences. And, of course, learnt a myriad of life lessons along the way for as Albert Einstein said:

“The only source of knowledge is experience”

It stands to reason therefore that to provide appropriate guidance to CEOs, Executives and Board Members in the not-for-profit sector a Coach should have not only worked extensively in the sector but have also have successfully held CEO, Executive and Board positions. The knowledge gained from these experiences can be invaluable!

So when choosing a Coach, certainly seek one with a range of the qualities described above. But also, seek one who has already journeyed down the road you are travelling and leverage off their experience. Not only can they advise on the shoes to wear, the bits and pieces you will need in your backpack but they have learnt the shortcuts and experienced the potholes!

About the author: Chris Gandy is a Director of Cause and Effective ( Cause and Effective provides Executive Coaching Services to not for profit executives and boards. ALL of Cause and Effective’s coaches are former not for profit CEO’s, Executives and Board Members. Learn more here

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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