7 Qualities of Top CEO Coaches

12 min read
Mar 23, 2022

In a world full of online gurus, how do you know who is legit and who is a poser? In the business world, how do you know who is a qualified CEO coach and who is a fraud?

If you’re like most entrepreneurs, then CEO coaching programs are nothing new to you. Considering that the world’s top entrepreneurs–including Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs–use CEO coaching, it’s no wonder that coaching is so popular.

However, the question remains: How do you know who is a good CEO coach for you?

To set the record straight, we’re sharing 7 qualities of top CEO coaches. When you’re ready to take your business and life to the next level, keep your eyes peeled for these 7 qualities.

Additionally, we’re also sharing how to find the right CEO coach for you and how these 7 coaching qualities impact your entire coaching experience.

Unless you pick the right coach, you’ll end up:

  1. Dealing with an online guru;
  2. With more confusion; and
  3. Wasting time, energy, and potential.

Coaching is a straight shot to bigger & better results in less time. These 7 qualities define the best coaches.


How Do You Find a CEO Coach?


When you consider the fact that literally anyone can call themself a coach, it becomes challenging to find one who is not only legit, but a great fit for YOU.

That said, you can find a CEO coach by:

  1. Identifying business leaders with extensive sales experience (more on that below!);
  2. Connecting for a short meeting to assess whether or not they possess the 7 essential qualities; and
  3. Seeing whether or not your initial conversation flows naturally.

It also doesn’t hurt to check for online reviews!

In short, finding a CEO coach will take a little due diligence on your end, but if the coach is truly a great coach, they will meet you more than halfway.


What does a CEO coach do?


7 Qualities of Top Executive Coaches


Just like how every business owner brings their own unique value and experience to the table but still possesses a set of particular qualities, the same can be said for executive coaches!

Every coach has a unique background, yet the best of the best all possess these 7 particular qualities. Without these qualities, you’re for the wrong kind of CEO coaching ride (AKA, you might be being fooled by a guru)!


1. Extensive Experience


The key difference between a guru and a legitimate coach is experience. And, not just any experience, but direct experience as a current or former CEO themself.

Would you hire a soccer coach who has never played soccer themself? Of course not. Similarly, you wouldn’t hire an executive coach who has no experience as a CEO!

Having direct experience is beneficial for a few key reasons, including:

  1. Credible advice and insights
  2. Empathy-based emotional support
  3. Building a foundation of trust

Bottom line: Top-level coaches have direct experience as business owners and leaders themselves. Unless you want a guru for a coach, then dig into a coach’s history before taking them up on their offer.


Talk Is Cheap, Results Are Valuable


Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “Just because somebody has experience doesn’t mean that they had any success at what they did!” And that is 100% true.

On top of finding a coach with a business owner resume, do some deeper digging into their history to uncover the results that they’ve created for themself.

Just like how you wouldn’t take soccer lessons from someone who’s never played soccer before, you probably shouldn’t take soccer lessons from someone who has played but never won a game in their life.

Now, that isn’t to say that you should completely blow people off who haven't achieved the heights of business success. In fact, you can learn a lot from other people’s mistakes!

However, CEO coaching is all about taking the guessing out of business, and the best way to stop guessing is to get coached by someone who has manifested their own business results.


Having a Shoulder to Lean On


It’s one thing to have somebody who sympathizes with you, but it’s a whole other thing to have somebody who empathizes with you.

Here’s the thing: Being a CEO is a seriously challenging endeavor that very few people ever choose to pursue. Therefore, it’s difficult to find people who can not only advise you, but also empathize with you.

That is, at least, with the exception of CEO coaches!

Because they’ve built their own businesses before, coaches know exactly what you’re going through on personal and professional levels.  That said, they’re able to empathize with you more than almost any other person out there.

Having an experienced coach is more than just about getting the right advice. Instead, it’s also about having a shoulder to lean on.


Experience Solidifies Trust


Trust is extremely important in any relationship, particularly in a CEO coaching relationship.


Because by working with a coach, not only are you confiding in them over personal matters, but you’re also confiding in them over business matters. Both of these topics are often challenging for people to open up about.

Not only that, but it’s difficult to trust somebody shortly after you first meet them.

Thankfully, having an experienced CEO coach who can give you advice based on direct experience and also empathizes with you lays the foundation for more trust to be built in less time.

Just like in friendships or partnerships, trust is essential between coaches and their coaching clients.


2. Having A Sales Background


Now, you might be wondering to yourself: “My business is in X industry, so do I need a coach who has a background in that industry?

Not necessarily. However, there is a specific background factor that is an absolute MUST in a coach: a strong background in sales.

Don’t believe it?

Consider this: The whole point of being a business owner in the first place is to manifest a vision. The way that the CEO manifests visions is by making more sales in less time! Moreover, being a strong business leader is a matter of being able to close the big deals.

Keep in mind that the great CEO, Steve Jobs (who also took advantage of coaching services), was not an engineer or product developer. Rather, he was a master sales and marketing pro!

That said, if any CEO wants to achieve next-level success, then they need to master sales. Perhaps the best way to do that is by getting one-on-one time with a coach who has a master sales background.


Sales Is the Foundation of Business Success


Not only does closing more sales in less time help you manifest your business vision, but it can solve almost any business-related challenge you’re experiencing.

Think about it... Need more capital to hire new team members? Make more sales. Ready to invest in new product development? Make more sales. Want to expand into new markets? Make more sales!

At the end of the day, sales development IS leadership development! You can learn all the other leadership skills you want, but a CEO is truly leading their company when they’re crushing sales.

Thankfully, the best CEO coaches who have manifested their own business visions are a one-stop shop to sales success.


Building a Sales Methodology


Believe it or not, you probably already have all the sales skills you need to increase sales.

However, what you probably don’t have is a strong methodology or strategy. Without a strategy, all of those selling skills go to waste.

*Enter an executive coach*

Having a sales strategy is like having a blueprint for building a house: With a house blueprint, you know exactly how to manifest the house of your dreams. Similarly, having a sales blueprint shows you exactly how to manifest your sales, and therefore your business vision.

With the help of a coach, you’ll have the perfect strategic plan to get moving on sales.


Accomplishing More Goals In Less Time


If you’re like most CEOs, then you’re probably already setting business and sales goals.

But, in all honesty, how often do you accomplish your goals?

Again, if you’re like most chief executives, then you set goals but find it super challenging to achieve them. Despite your hard work, you just can’t seem to check the boxes.

The key reason why most CEOs don’t accomplish their business and sales goals is because they grossly underestimate the amount of work it takes to accomplish them.

Thankfully, having stood in your shoes before, CEO coaches have an easy time estimating the amount of energy it takes to accomplish goals. Therefore, they can help you set realistic goals that are actually achievable and don’t leave you feeling like a failure.


3. Accountability


The easiest way to lose people’s respect is by saying one thing and then doing another. Just like every CEO should be accountable for their actions, they also need to be accountable for their words.

Think about it. How many times did a fellow business leader or partner tell you that they would do something, end up not doing it, and it only left a sour taste in your mouth?

Not only that, but CEOs set the example for how team members should act in a company. If they’re not accountable for themselves, then they’re giving everybody else permission to also not be accountable.

That said, if you ever sense a lack of accountability in a coach, run for the hills!

The hard truth is that, if a coach isn’t initially accountable for their words, then they’re basically asking for you to:

  1. lose trust in them; and
  2. also not be accountable for yourself.

If you want to maintain respect for yourself and the respect of others, then personal accountability is of the utmost importance.


Keeping You Accountable


As a CEO, you probably have a million things going on in your mind each day. With so many moving pieces, it’s sometimes challenging to reinforce self-awareness.

As a result, it’s easy to slip up on your accountability.

Throughout the coaching process, coaches will certainly keep you accountable for your words and actions! If you say that you’re going to do something, they’ll hold you to it.

Ultimately, coaches hold their clients accountable because they see the potential in them!


How do I find a CEO coach?


4. Strong Communication


The best coaches are the strongest communicators.

By the strongest communicators, we mean that they:

  1. Aren’t afraid to say things as they need to be said;
  2. Know how to communicate in a way that you’ll understand; and
  3. Have regular, consistent coaching sessions.

First off, coaches aren’t afraid to communicate the things that need to be communicated. When there’s a clear issue at hand, they’re not afraid to point it out, even though doing so might ruffle some feathers.

Secondly, coaches understand that every person speaks their own language. Because everyone has their own language, coaches adapt themselves to their coaching client’s language so that their messages are understood.

Lastly, one of the keys to a solid CEO coaching program is meeting on a consistent basis. Unless you connect with your coach regularly and consistently, it’s difficult to apply the knowledge you’re learning.


99% of Problems Are People-Communication Problems


When you really think about it, almost every business-related problem is a people problem.

One of your team members isn’t being a team player? It’s probably because there’s a communication error within the team. Your LinkedIn post was taken out of context? Probably an error in the way it was communicated. Potential customers not buying your product/service? Probably because you didn’t communicate effectively during the sales process.

Moreover, just about every business problem can get solved with effective communication. Thankfully if you have a CEO coach, they’ll pass on their effective communication skills. As a result, you’ll see an immediate and dramatic drop in day-to-day business problems.


5. Starting With “Yes”


Are you tired of being around small-minded people?

For example, have you ever had a particular business vision that, while it’s really big and bold, you believed you can manifest it? Then, out of excitement, you tell the vision to somebody hoping that they’ll reciprocate your excitement, only to end up being hit with a hard “That'll never work!” Not only do you walk away feeling upset, but you also walk away questioning yourself.

Sound familiar?

The great news is that world-class executive coaches are the least small-minded people on earth.

As a current or former chief executive of a successful business themself, they understand the power of visions. They know darn well that every business begins and ends with a vision, so they’re the last people to shoot you down for your visions.

Instead of starting with “No”, great coaches start with, “Let's talk about how we can make it happen!


Great Coaches Never Start With ‘No’


Again, instead of starting with “No”, awesome coaches start with “Yes”. Then, they help you develop solid methodologies to bring those ideas to life.

If you’ve already got a method, a coach will help identify potential blind spots in the blueprint.

Every high-achiever has big ideas, but not every high-achiever has big-minded people around them. That is, unless they have an executive coach!


6. Strong Work Ethic


To be completely straight-up: Every CEO is a hard worker.

There’s just no way to beat around the bush!

Because CEOs are some of the hardest workers, they need hard-working coaches.

But how do you truly know if somebody is a hard worker, especially when so many people put on a front?

In addition to getting work done on time, there are a few key indicators to look out for, including:

  1. Attentiveness
  2. Getting starting right after being asked to do something
  3. Maximizing time

Just like how you should run for the hills if a CEO coach isn’t accountable, the same can be said for work ethic.


There Is No Substitute for Hard Work


Are you tired of hearing that all it takes to achieve business and leadership success is hard work?

If so, you’re not alone.

However, the hard truth is that there is no substitute for hard work. While it isn’t the most exciting success factor to talk about, you can’t make it without hard work.

But, that isn’t to say that hard work is all that it takes to be successful. In fact, you can work extremely hard but if you’re working on all the wrong things, then it all goes to waste.

Furthermore, top coaches keep you accountable for your hard work because they are hard workers themselves. On top of that, they help you focus on the right things to work hard on.

In sum, the best CEOs and CEO coaches are the ones who work their hardest on the right path.


CEO coaching programs


7. Support Beyond the Business World


Think that executive coaches show up for coaching sessions wearing stark suits unwilling to show any emotion at all, much less talk about anything outside the realms of the business world? Think again!

The real truth is that CEO coaches are probably more personable than most people in your inner circle.


Having experienced the business and personal challenges that come with being a CEO themself, coaches aren’t afraid to talk about all the hard topics and be a much-needed sounding board. To them, there aren’t any talking boundaries.

Furthermore, if you spot a coach who is purely interested in talking business 24/7 and basically forbids you from even thinking about your personal life, then they’re likely a guru putting on a front.


Reinforcing Work-Life Balance


One of the key challenges that most CEOs experience is work-life balance. Knowing when and how to switch lanes is difficult, to say the least.

As a current or former CEO themself, a CEO coach doesn't just understand this challenge on a personal level, but they encourage their clients to find their unique balance.

Regardless of what you see on social media or read about in books, there isn’t a single executive leader out there who doesn’t need balance in their life. At one point or another, everyone needs to step back and integrate some personal time in their life.

And while CEOs might look superhuman on the outside, they need downtime just as much as any other person!

On top of that, coaches understand that making time for a personal life ultimately makes a CEO stronger in business.


Reinforcing Enthusiasm


Being a business owner isn’t about being happy. In fact, being happy all the time isn’t necessarily a good sign.

On the slip side, being a business owner is about being enthusiastic. Enthusiasm and happiness are categorically different feelings.


First off, happiness is a surface-level emotion. Happiness is a basic human reaction to feeling comfortable. For example, when we get applauded for hard work or buy something new for ourselves, we feel happy because it reinforces comfort. And while it is great to feel happy, it isn’t everything.

Second, enthusiasm is a deep-rooted emotion. Also sometimes referred to as joy, enthusiasm is that little flame that lights inside when you are doing something you’re passionate about. When you feel enthusiastic about something, you know that you’re on the right track.

Furthermore, CEO coaches know how to dig deep to light the flame of enthusiasm. They understand that being a leader isn’t about happiness and that feeling happy all the time isn’t always a good sign.

If you’re going through a hard time, coaching will help turn up the flame of enthusiasm. With that flame burning, few things can stand in your way.


Final Thoughts on Qualities of Top CEO Coaches


When you’re ready to become a better leader and grow a more impactful business, then it’s your time for CEO coaching. That is, at least, if you want to take the most straightforward path to success there is.

Just remember, in a world full of online gurus who can pose as anything they want, make sure that you’re picking the kind of coach with these 7 particular qualities. Don’t let a guru take you for a spin!

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