The Wild West of Executive Coaching

Harvard Business Review
by Stratford Sherman and Alyssa Freas…

It’s not just individuals who benefit from one-on-one coaching—their employers can gain immensely, too. But in an industry without universally accepted standards, all the parties need to be clear about their goals and how to reach them.

When the senior vice president for organizational development at a leading U.S. bank first sought executive coaches for a few senior leaders, she faced a stampede. Kicking up dust were hundreds of applicants with wildly diverse qualifications, each expecting an interview. To make the selection process manageable, the VP established arbitrary criteria: Candidates needed some sort of coaching certification, plus five years of coaching experience at Fortune 500 financial services companies. The executive readily admitted to having no evidence that these criteria would identify good coaches. “I have to screen people somehow,” she said. “So I am making stuff up.”

Like the Wild West of yesteryear, the executive coaching frontier is chaotic, largely unexplored, and fraught with risk, yet immensely promising….

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