NOTE: As of 2022 the Center for Executive Coaching is now accredited with the ICF as a Level 2 Coach Training Organization. The ICF has changed their language and replaced ACTP with Level 2. We were among the first group of coach training programs to receive this accreditation, after a rigorous review by the ICF.

Would you rather be seen as a strategic advisor or a coach?

The Center for Executive Coaching trains people to be great executive and leadership coaches. So it might seem strange that when we talk about attracting clients, we suggest that you avoid using the word coach unless the prospective client is specifically seeking coaching.

Instead, we want our members to be seen as strategic advisors. A strategic advisor earns a trusted role with clients, and clients seek us out for assistance with their most important challenges, opportunities, and decisions. Most strategic advisors wear multiple hats as needed, depending on their skills, experience, and passion. Hats can include coaching, mentoring, assessing, consulting, facilitating, training, and more – whatever is needed to provide valuable solutions and help the client get results. We aren’t hung up about titles. However, even if all you do is coaching, you can still position yourself as a strategic advisor vs. a commodity coach.

Here is why it is better to be a strategic advisor than a coach:

ONE: First, you can still provide coaching services. The two are not mutually exclusive. So why not take the higher strategic ground?

TWO: There remains a stigma about the word coaching. When you tell people you are a coach, the first question they still ask is, “For which sport?” Meanwhile, there are all sorts of low level coaches, as demonstrated most recently in an advertisement for a smoking patch that offers online “quitting coaches.” Many executives still roll their eyes and cringe when they hear the terms coaching, and many associate coaching with a last resort activity before an under-performer gets fired. Coaching remains a confusing term that isn’t always seen positively. So why not position yourself differently and avoid this problem, unless your client is specifically asking for executive and leadership coaching?

THREE: It is way more effective to market yourself as someone who solves big problems vs. being someone who only offers a generic feature like coaching. The bigger the problems you can attack with clients, the higher up in organizations you can go, the more value you will provide, and the more you can charge. Even if you are a pure coach, it is best to avoid the word coaching until after you discuss the client’s challenge, ideal outcome, and value that addressing their challenge will bring. Strategic advisors start with problems and opportunities and then figure out the best way to deliver results. Coaches tend to pigeonhole themselves into one type of solution only — coaching. They are like the technology companies from the dot com era who would run around saying, “We have this great technology. Now, what’s your problem?”

FOUR: Traditional coaches tend to go through Human Resources to get work, are seen as commodities, and are only allowed to offer small packages of a few hours of coaching. Strategic advisors go straight to the primary decision maker and become indispensable members of the executive team. Of course, we form positive relationships with Human Resources and keep them in the loop about our progress when appropriate, but our primary relationship remains with members of the executive team. Also, we bring so much value to our clients that we don’t have to worry about being seen as a commodity.

FIVE: Strategic advisors tend to have a few clients, with whom they work for a long time. You have more impact, don’t have to spend as much time chasing new clients, and spend more of your time doing the work you love.

At the Center for Executive Coaching, we start with the core competencies required to be an excellent coach. At the same time, we go way beyond these core competencies, because everything we teach is about becoming a strategic advisor. That way, you reach the top decision makers, emphasize value and results in everything you do, and have more impact. Best of all, your work becomes more fulfilling and fun.

If you were interested in what you just read, you should join our program. We have options for aspiring coaches who want to get certified, and we have options for seasoned coaches who want access to our toolkits and methodologies.

You can join our distance learning program anytime and our next in-person seminar is February 16-19, 2017. Register now and contact me anytime at to discuss fit.




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