Why only a few people should become executive- and leadership-level coaches

It might seem strange that I run a leading executive and leadership coach training company, and yet I am writing to tell you that only a few people should become executive and leadership level coaches. But I mean it.

There are plenty of coach training programs and franchises that will take money from anyone who can fog a mirror. They even have approval from organizations like the ICF (as do we). From what I hear, they deliver enlightening trainings that help participants get great insights about themselves and learn the foundations of coaching (as do we). I even know one program that claims it will show you how to get $100,000 a year per client with a simple coaching process — even though, based on a loose survey of participants, only the founder of that program seems to be earning the $100,000 paychecks. (We don't make claims about what you can earn as a coach, because we know it is a competitive business, like any other).

We go many steps farther than these types of programs. That's because we believe that being an executive-level and leadership-level coach is for only a few people. It is a great privilege, and an extremely rewarding challenge. Most people don't have the experience, seasoning, or mental agility to work with managers, executives, and up-and-coming talent. Even more don't have the fortitude to turn their passion for coaching into a business.

I've gotten pretty good (not perfect, but pretty good) at screening out people who don't have what it takes. I've learned this from making mistakes and letting people in the program who — with the benefit of hindsight — weren't good fits. As I get better and better at this, it gets harder and harder to get into the Center for Executive Coaching every year.

We can provide you with remarkably valuable and insightful tools, and outstanding marketing guidance, along with personalized support. But you have to bring a lot to the table, too.

Here are some indicators that you might NOT be a good executive-level or leadership-level coach:

– You have to ask me whether you will be successful. If you don't have faith in yourself and are looking for a guarantee, please hand your money over to one of those programs that tells you this is an easy business and that you will have quick success. You are the perfect mark for them, because they prey on the insecure.

– You expect somebody else's brand or famous name to make you successful, or that someone else will bring clients to your door. Remember that people hire YOU, no matter how many credentials or affiliations you have. There is nowhere to hide when you are a high-level coach. You have to do the work to establish your credibility and be known.

– You think that a credential from a coaching association like the ICF will make you successful, as if you flash your MCC or PCC card and instantly get hired. Any respected credential, including ours and the ICF's (you can get both through our program) will help, but they are neither sufficient or necessary for success.

– You expect a coach training program to be like a magic pill: Swallow it and you instantly know how to be a great coach, and clients appear out of nowhere. Being a coach is a never-ending learning process, and it takes time, effort, and continuous learning to get really good at it.

– You aren't willing to do the hard work required to learn how to be a good coach and/or market your services.

– You don't have the financial resources to tough it out for at least 6 months to a year while building your practice (or you aren't willing to start part-time and build up a client base while working your regular job).

– You worry that executives, managers, and/or up-and-coming talent won't take you seriously. If you are worried, then how do you think the market will react to you? You can coach all sorts of managers and leaders, not just those at Fortune 50 companies, but you have to know that you have something to offer. You have to know that you can look a leader, manager, or up-and-coming talent in the eye, be on equal footing with them, and have a dialog with them about their most pressing challenges.

– You need a step-by-step, idiot-proof process because you can't think on your feet. We provide as close as you can get to a step-by-step process, but you still have to be able to think fast and adapt. If you want perfect structure, apply for a job at McDonald's.

– You have what we call the hero complex. You see coaching as a way for you to be the hero who gets credit, instead of a "shadow leader" who helps others be more successful without caring about getting the glory. If you help others, the glory comes in referrals, rave reviews, and a thriving practice.

– You need everything to be perfect and aren't willing to take risks, try new things out, make mistakes, and even get rejected (sometimes a lot). I'm constantly amazed and saddened by how many aspiring coaches lack the courage to experiment and build as they go.

– You ignore the fact that you are always in two businesses: coaching, and marketing yourself. You must be willing to handle both businesses all the time. The best coach isn't the most successful; the best marketer is. It's not fair, but it is accurate. The solution: Be the best coach and the best marketer!

– You tend to blame others when things don't go your way, instead of taking 100% responsibility and moving forward. How can you coach others about accountability, integrity, and responsibility if you don't have these qualities?

– You aren't willing to work your butt off to make your coaching business succeed (It gets exponentially easier after you have some clients, but initially it can feel like pushing a rock up a hill). I might be sounding like a broken record here, but I'm surprised at how many people expect success to happen automatically or without tons of work.

– You get frustrated and give up quickly when you don't get immediate results. As Homer Simpson says, "We never give up until we try one easy thing."

– You want it to be about you, your passion and your ego, instead of about the value you bring to other people.

– Your own life is a mess. You can't manage your finances. You aren't great at building solid relationships. You are constantly distracted and go from thing to thing. If this describes you, save the world some trouble. Hire a coach. Don't become one.

Please forgive my honesty but the fact is that only a tiny percentage of people have what it takes. We look for people with successful backgrounds in leadership, management, consulting, coaching (those who want deeper training and hard-hitting tools), entrepreneurship — as well as therapists, pastors, and others with a foundation of counselling. You have to be smart, dynamic, resilient, grounded, and humble.

If you meet these criteria, the road to being a successful coach will be much smoother for you. We can provide you with the tools, support, and marketing guidance to be one of the few who really can succeed in this business.

If you would like to discuss the above and see whether we can be of value to you or not, please call me anytime at 941-539-9623. If you get voice mail, let me know a few times to call you back, including time zone.


Andrew Neitlich, Founder and Director 

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