Coaching is all the rage.

Everybody and their brother seems to have a coach. As with any popular trend, there are some good things and some bad things about it.

To help you understand my approach to executive coaching, here are five critical questions I ask for every engagement. 

Executive Coaching Question One:

What are the business results you’re accountable for delivering?

Any approach to executive coaching should not lose sight of the business results you’re responsible for. The current coaching trend has been criticized harshly for being blind to results. This criticism is well deserved.

The first thing I do in all my coaching engagements is capture your accountabilities: revenue, expenses, quality, or quantity by month, quarter, and year. This is the starting place for our work together and the context for our conversations.

Executive Coaching Question Two:

What are the leadership behaviors you’re seeking to develop?

Working with people well while delivering world class results is the challenge of a lifetime. That’s my definition of leadership—working with people well while delivering world class results—and have discovered there’s always something new to master in it.

Within the context of your accountabilities, we’ll identify the leadership behaviors that are the most important for you to learn right now. These become the objectives of our engagement and the narrative for our work.

Executive Coaching Question Three:

What measurable outcomes will be achieved by fulfilling these objectives?

Here I ask the simple question, how will we know we’ve been successful? What’s the observable evidence of the fulfillment of your leadership objectives in real time? Again, coaching has been criticized for being a feel-good placebo, but my approach to the discipline is driven by outcomes. In short, a change you can see (not just believe in).

Executive Coaching Question Four:

What systems exist within your organization that resist change and what strategies will you implement to overcome them?

No one leads in a vacuum. We lead in a system, an organizational system that’s inherently resistant to change. Even the best executives have their good intentions grounded by the gravitational force of the status quo.

During our coaching engagement, we’ll explore the organizational system in which you lead and how to work within that system to get things done. Apart from this, any change achieved during a coaching engagement will vanish into thin air immediately after I leave. Not a good investment!

Executive Coaching Question Five:

What’s the best meeting rhythm to fulfill your objectives and outcomes?

An executive coaching engagement extends from six months to a year (or more), but the rhythm of our meetings during that time is set to your preferences and needs. I meet with some of my clients every other week like clockwork. Others prefer to meet for a morning—or an entire day—every few months. Some choose a combination of both.

How do you decide? Objectives and outcomes. What do you need to make sure they get done and to ensure this is not another useless leadership program that’s an utter waste of time and money?

The best way to get started coaching with me is to schedule an initial meeting. We’ll discuss your answers to these five questions and the next steps that make sense. From there I’ll offer multiple coaching options customized to your context and attuned to your budget.

Better leaders. Better business.