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Cracking the Code: CEOs' Guide to Navigating the Coaching Maze 

March 11, 202413 min read

“Corporate America had better heed the phenomenon...people won't run on autopilot or by remote e-mail. No matter how much the world has changed, people on the job still need some mentoring, some monitoring, some meaningful interaction...personal coaching has earned it's merits” - Fortune Magazine


How can you navigate the coaching maze in which there are thousands of coaches and many of them sound like your teenage daughter? And why is it a necessary thing that you actually do.

Here are a few statistics that are important to paint the picture:

The estimates are that there will be 145,500 certified coaches in the world in 2024.

The official coaching industry will be ~$6.25B in 2024 with 17% growth YoY to 2023. Some data shows that the overall coaching industry has already surpassed ~$20B.

99% of employers see coaching as having a positive or very positive impact on the wider business.

80% of coaching clients say that they improved their self-esteem or self-confidence thanks to coaching.

Coaching industry is one of the fastest growing markets (it must work!)

The median ROI is 7x the investment.

The decision on hiring a coach for yourself is crucial for your business. Every CEO, at some point in their career, becomes a bottleneck of their business, whether they are aware of it or not.

And the chokehold is 80% tied to their mental capacity and only 20% to strategy and skills.

Coaching is the right and the best solution to solving this problem.

7 Steps to Find the Right Coach for CEOs

With that said, here are the 7 Steps to Filtering Out Unqualified Coaches and Finding The Right Coach to Elevate Your Business.

1. Coaching vs Mentoring vs Therapy

Let’s start with explaining what coaching is and what it is not. 

Coaching is a process based on a relationship between the coach and the client. It is an equal exchange that serves the client. It is based on trust and confidentiality and the coach's role is to extract all the information from the conscious and subconscious mind of the client. Everything that we do in life is created based on the system of beliefs and convictions that we have within us. Think of this as the software that got programmed into our body in the early childhood years and it is now running our life. The purpose of coaching is to look forward, to plan ahead, to inspire and envision. Also to focus on the present moment and discover what is happening now and how we can move forward towards the future we want.

It is different from mentoring, as a mentor's job is to teach the client and direct the client on what to do. Mentoring focuses mainly on strategies and the how to’s instead of going deeper into the psyche. Mentors don’t need any qualifications, unlike coaches who need to be trained and certified to have the tools and techniques in their tool box. 

Counseling, psychologists and therapists are mainly focused on the past and the traumas that need healing. Very different energy and focus than the coaching. 

Last big difference is that the first question you will hear from a therapist will be “what is your problem (and how can I fix you)?”, and the coach will ask you “what do you want?”

2. What a Great C-suite Coach Looks Like

As a CEO or C-suite leader, you need someone who can hold your energy and who will not be afraid of you. A great coach will be able to call you out on your own BS, and not be intimidated by your success or financial prosperity. They also need to be able to tell you the hard truth - if you feel that you can over-power your coach, don’t hire them - it will be a waste of your time and money. 

If you feel like you are triggered by your coach, that is a good sign! That means that growth is already happening because you are uncomfortable…I was once approached by a CEO of a successful gaming company, making multiple 8-figures per year, and he was so enthusiastic about hiring me that he said YES before hearing about the 5-figure investment. When he found out what the cost was, he was almost offended, and he told me that he wanted someone to talk to when he needed to. This indicated that he wasn’t ready to be coached, he wanted to have a cheerleader who would be another Yes-person to talk to. Cheerleading is not coaching, even though a big part of coaching is around acknowledging you and celebrating your progress and your wins. 

Secondly, you need someone who has a good business acumen, preferably global experience working in a variety of companies so that they can use their experience to pair it with their intuition when they offer you guidance. 

Next, they need to have proper preparation to be a coach - international certifications are a great measure of that. You can trust that you will be in good hands and the coach has the tools and techniques to coach you professionally.

Also, you need someone who understands goal setting and strategy management so that they can work with you as a partner on setting your vision, mission and adjusting your value system. 

Lastly, you need to match with them on a personal level. You need to feel into it - do you trust this person? How do you feel about them? Are you inspired? Do they walk the talk? Are they successful? Can you learn from them?

Please keep in mind that every coach should always set up the coaching relationship upfront - we call it “designing alliance” - and it entails a discussion about confidentiality, trust, ethics, setting up the goals and asking for permission to tell you the hard truth, as well as logistics and homework. 


3. The Impact of Quality Coaching - What to Expect

Coaching can bring rapid results. In my work, my clients are known to quadruple their businesses, sign clients that contribute to 7X of ROIC in under 3 months, or expand to new markets worldwide. 

On a personal side, my clients lose weight (the record was 12 kg), quit smoking (even after 1 session), and end their unhappy relationships (love, friends or business). 

Coaching is powerful when done right. It will elevate you as a person and your identity will change for the better. You will be the same person but much, much better. You will rise above your limitations. You will connect to your superhero version for whom anything is possible.

In the companies, team coaching offers the benefits of creating a better company culture, closer engagement and higher employee satisfaction. When leaders feel heard and understood, they can offer the same to their team members and the environment is thriving. In a thriving environment, success is skyrocketing.

I was once asked to support an international organization that struggled for years to get aligned and work as a team because of many factors (being global, scattered, lack of one direction, lack of time etc.). It took us 4 hours of intense workshop to deliver results of clarity and alignment and a defined action plan that everyone was happy with. Coaching is fast. People thrive in cultures where things get done.

4. Signs of a High-Quality Coach

When you are searching for a coach, look for their experience, credentials and credibility (you will find testimonials on their page). Nowadays you can check their website, their social media, their youtube channel - feel into the energy of the coach, watch some of their video content, read their posts, and check in with yourself if you like them. Ask yourself: Would you like to have lunch with them?

Also, evaluate if the coach is committed to ongoing learning and self-development. If they have done one training and stopped developing, it will be a short coaching relationship as you will lose inspiration. See if they are investing in themselves and continue to grow.

Is the coach offering powerful content and helpful tools that will complement your coaching experience? This will be very useful for your growth because the most important work often happens outside of the coaching sessions. 

The most important checks are to ask yourself if you can trust them, if you can open up to them, if you trust in their professionalism, if you will be coachable by them. This is crucial because coaching can only work to the extent that you will open up to it and tell the truth. 

Lastly, a High-Quality coach will most certainly not be cheap. Just like with cars, there is a reason you want to drive Porsche or maybe a Lotus, vs driving a Skoda. All of them will function but you will get a different experience and you will be differently invested in maintaining your car. It’s similar to coaching - if you pay a high ticket price, you will be more invested, and therefore you will do the work, especially the uncomfortable work. So the more results and value you want from coaching, the higher the investment might be. 

When you believe you found the right person, book a call to validate your choice. Ask questions. And trust your gut. Trust your intuition and remember that intuition comes first and the sabotaging thoughts come next! 

👉 If you want to explore coaching tools, feel free to visit my website and grab free resources: 

5. Common Pitfalls to Avoid

Based on my experience of working with the wrong coach, there were a few things I would invite you to pay attention to. Firstly, if the coach is just a nice person and you like talking to them but there is no feeling of mutual respect and professionalism, that’s a trap. You may be feeling nice but there won’t be much growth…

If you are assigned a coach by the company you work for and don’t fully resonate with them but feel bad to speak up, this is a red flag. This kind of coaching will not be that effective because you will be holding back from the start. I would suggest asking for a change until you feel 100% or look for a coach on your own.

If during the first meeting, the coach doesn’t discuss with you the designed alliance and doesn’t explain the process of coaching nor asks you what you need to accomplish and what your expectations are. 

If the coach is not sending you a clear coaching agreement and invoice prior to the start date, they might avoid discussing the financial topics and that will come up later in the conversations. If you hire a cheaper or industry standard coach, this might be an indication that their financial mindset is not on the same level as yours. This doesn’t mean that your coach needs to be a multi-millionaire, but they need to be strong in their own worth and understanding that money is offered in an exchange of value. Remember that you are a highly ambitious individual and you want to achieve extraordinary results - hire a coach who will help you get there.

If they agree with everything that you say and you don’t feel that they are the guide. For a C-suite executive this may be an uncomfortable feeling because your coach should be strong enough in their leadership presence to guide you instead of following your lead. You are always the one leading the room…this room should be different and it will feel different.

If they don’t stretch your vision or call out your self-sabotage. If they don’t listen to you to uncover your hidden patterns. Some coaches just listen to you as it’s an afternoon tea chat. Coaching is an intense process where magic happens.

Lastly, remember that you are always responsible for your life and business and the good coach will not try to fix you or take over the responsibility for your work. So don’t expect to be mothered by your coach. Coaching is an equal relationship where you are the one benefiting from it and learning how to lead your life in an empowered state.


6. What If You Fell Into a Trap & How To Get Out

Firstly, have the courage to address the issues you see with your coaching program. Give your coach the benefit of the doubt. If the coach is better than you think, they will handle it well and explain their methods. 

Secondly, ask yourself an honest question: “Am I doing my best? Am I being open? What is good about this coaching?”. I once had a coach that I didn’t resonate with that much, there was something off…I thought about changing her because I wanted it to be easy and “my way”. I caught myself in a self-sabotaging behavior because I was so triggered. I chose to give it a chance and focus on the positive. This alone has shifted the coaching relationship. This is not guaranteed but it is always best to self-manage before making decisions.

If it still doesn’t work, check your coaching agreement and termination clause like with any contract that you would and ask for closure. None of us professional coaches will want to coach someone who doesn’t want to be coached by us.

7. Where To Find Your Right CEO Coach

Seek recommendations or referrals. Searching through your network is the best first step to consider. Coaching relationship is the most trusted relationship you might have in your life, so using your trusted network is helpful. 

Search on LinkedIn and go through your first or second connections, LinkedIn is great because you can see their profiles and their content and get a good feel. 

You can ask your HR for advice however please keep in mind that sometimes HR wants to play the role of your coach in the organization and the recommendation may not be without a secondary agenda. So, you may want to hire someone on your own. 

At times, your company will have a list of coaches they work with and you may be assigned someone. Make sure you feel 100% good about this coach or don’t hesitate to ask for a change. I personally encourage top leaders to invest their own money into coaching so that they can be free to make decisions that are outside of the company. Many of my clients discover that they have conflicts within their organization, and want to start a new business on their own, so it is important for them to be able to share freely and openly in a coaching session. 

Final thoughts.

Coaching is trendy because it works. 

Just like with the best athletes, if you want to be the best in the discipline of business, you should consider hiring a great coach.

There is a difference between any coach and a great coach. Make a conscious and intentional choice. 

Get competitive advantage by working on your self-mastery, and achieve exponential results!

If you enjoyed this article, and found it useful, please share it with your network. 

I also invite you to visit my website or find our more about our offers: 

Paulina is a World Class Leadership Coach for CEOs. She has dedicated her career to help her clients ignite iconic presence and personal power so that they scale up with ease and build a legacy that lasts.  
Paulina brings a broad leadership experience of 15+ years working with Fortune 100 companies. 
She is an International Speaker and Author.

Paulina Stankiewicz

Paulina is a World Class Leadership Coach for CEOs. She has dedicated her career to help her clients ignite iconic presence and personal power so that they scale up with ease and build a legacy that lasts. Paulina brings a broad leadership experience of 15+ years working with Fortune 100 companies. She is an International Speaker and Author.

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The Most Seen Post on social media

I have just invested 💰 85K USD in my personal growth! (that makes it a total amount of €204,537.18 of investment into my personal and professional growth in the last 3 years!)

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That's what my sabotaging mind thought... 🤔

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