the right coach is an invaluable tool for enhancing leadership skills in a trusting and confidential environment. But in order to get the maximum benefit from a coaching engagement, it’s essential to work with the right person who can push you to the next level and beyond. Now that you’ve decided to pursue an executive coach, here are a few tips for choosing the right one. Define What You Want to Accomplish Before working with any coach, it’s helpful to define what it is that you want to accomplish. In other words, what does success look like to you? Where do you want to be in five years? Answering these questions will help you more clearly understand your specific goals going forward. Perform a self-evaluation and look at not only those things you excel at, but also, where you can stand to make some improvements. Be honest about your shortcomings and any challenges you face. Defining exactly what it is that you hope to accomplish with an executive coach will help you in not only the selection process, but also, in setting your own expectations. Building Your Strengths and Minimizing Your Weaknesses Effective leaders recognize where their strengths and weaknesses lie, but may not know how to make the most of the positives while minimizing the negatives. The right executive coach can help you build on your strengths, and understand how to bring out the best in yourself. Learning to work smarter, not harder is a skill that can be taught. Understanding What It’s Like to Be In Your Shoes Choose a coach with relevant hands-on experience that relates to where you are and what you are doing. While having a coach who understands the nature of your industry and daily operations is a plus, it’s more important to have someone with a background of successful, hands-on experiences…a person who can relate directly to the many challenges that faced by all leaders, regardless of industry. A history of previous coaching experience ensures the person you choose has effective communication skills and the ability to translate their knowledge to others. Build A Rapport While a coaching relationship is often professional and deals primarily with business, the conversation tends to bleed over into the human side of things. Often, personal issues overflow into professional lives and therefore deserve as much, if not more attention. The right coach listens, is comfortable to talk to and easy to build a rapport with – creating the trusted relationship you need to help you learn and improve. Finding the right fit in an executive coach is about finding someone with quality experience who will be honest, but also has empathy and a human spirit that can relate to you as an individual. The best coaches are always those that combine business sense, common sense and a passion for mentoring.