After retiring from a decades long career, I am interested in exploring whether executive coaching might be a way for me to continue working on a part-time basis.

A. Congratulations on a successful career. Forty years is significant. Hopefully people are being honest with you when they are encouraging you to look at executive coaching as a career option. Many people are interested in becoming an executive coach, but it’s not for everyone. Being a truly effective coach takes many skills, which can be developed if you are willing to invest the time and dedication.

According to Andrew Neitlich, Founder and Director of The Center for Executive Coaching, “We have found that those who tend to enjoy and be effective as executive coaches have five common attributes. First, many report that when they look back on their careers, among the most rewarding achievements have been mentoring and developing others to be successful. Second, they are interested in what makes people tick, especially when it comes to performing at their best. Third, they are innately curious, a trait that enables them to use inquiry with clients to explore different angles and possibilities. Fourth, they have what we call “conversational dexterity;” they can flow with a conversation, listen well, and be present in order to move a conversation forward. Finally, it helps to have something that makes you credible in the eyes of prospective clients, which you certainly have based on your experience.”

If this describes you, keep exploring. There are many types of coaches. Life coaches focus on helping individuals improve various aspects of their personal lives. Health and Wellness coaches help their clients by providing guidance on ways to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. And there are executive coaches which is business-oriented coaching to help people in the workplace develop and expand their capabilities and develop more positive behaviors. Executive coaches work specifically with business leaders and high-level professionals being developed for more senior roles, or who want to have even more impact in their current or next leadership role.  It’s not training.

Neitlich added, “While coaching fees are all over the map, independent executive coaches working with senior leaders can earn anywhere between $1,100 up to $5,500 per month per client. Fees vary based on the size of the organization, the client’s challenge or opportunity, and how high up the client is in the organization. Many coaches also provide related services, including group and team coaching, facilitation, training, and assessment work. While there is lots of variability and there are never any guarantees, an effective coach that is disciplined at business development can make an excellent income.”

Executive coaches should complete education and certification to develop the skillset that provides professionalism for those in the field. Executive coaching isn’t about telling people what to do. It’s about asking people provocative questions and helping them reframe the situations that they’re in, while learning new approaches to deal with the challenges they face.

Executive coaches can work for themselves, coaching firms or career transition firms with executive coaching divisions. And they also work internally for companies, colleges or universities who recognize that not every manager can offer the development that their employees need to climb to the next level. Many new C-suite executives are provided with executive coaches as they enter that new level of leadership. Coaches are offered to people who are new to organizations (onboarding) to help them get started quickly so that they can offer the expertise that they’ve been hired for without having to delay for an extended period “getting the lay of the land”.

A significant industry change is that people have learned that executive coaching is not something to be ashamed to receive. In the early days of coaching, people wondered if they were provided with a coach because they had done something wrong or were on their way out of the organization. That is not the case (or should not be). Organizations wouldn’t invest the amount of money that coaching costs in you unless they wanted to keep you within the organization and help you develop a skillset to make you even more valuable. That doesn’t mean you don’t have areas to improve.

Research and investigate coaching development organizations from academic institutions, for-profit organizations, online classes, etc. These organizations offer a range of services tailored to executives, including one-on-one coaching, leadership development, career transition support, and business strategy consulting. And see what the International Coaching Federation, the regulating body for professional executive coaches, has to say about all those kinds of programs, obtaining certification, continuing education credits, and recertification. Connect and network with other executive coaches and consider joining professional organizations. The impact you can have as a great executive coach could be a great retirement reward.

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