One of my most motivated and accomplished Executive Coaching clients used the following signature in a light-hearted email: “Your favorite Executive Coaching client”

While I enjoy all of my clients (or I wouldn’t accept or keep them,) and I’ve never thought in terms of “favorites,” his signature-with-a-wink started me thinking. If I had my druthers (which I basically do as an entrepreneur,) who would I most want to coach? In other words, what are the characteristics of the ideal executive coaching client? What would that “job-description” look like?

Probably the first sentence would be:

This position requires an emotionally-mature, highly successful executive or senior manager who has a passion to become a better leader.

 It would include a paragraph on basic intellect, on the elements of success, on motivation, sense of humor, self awareness and an openness to change. An entire section would be devoted to a willingness to self reflect and the ability to receive feedback—positive and negative. The prospective executive coaching client would need the ability to discern which parts of the feedback are drivel and to be discarded, and which are useful or mandatory for personal/professional growth.

Another trait is the commitment to coming to each coaching session with very clear goals for that session, often including asking for my feedback on certain issues.  My feedback is very direct although very respectful. Many executives have never received such direct feedback and are taken back or get defensive.  My ideal coaching client welcomes it, considers it, examines it and decides whether or not to act on it. He/she uses me in different capacities depending on issues, etc. Sometimes I just listen, other times ask questions. Still other times, he brings a specific problem which we work on together, again with me mostly asking questions or reflecting what I’m hearing.

There are a few occasions when this ideal client asks me for consultation because of my special training, knowledge and years of experience. We are both clear when we are in coaching mode or in consulting mode. Last week he asked me to instruct him—on a subject I knew a lot about and he was a stranger to.

Another trait of this ideal client is that he does not run back to his colleagues with “Judy said….” He incorporates what he gains from our discussions and makes it his own. If he refers to me, it is a strategy that he believes will accomplish a goal.

The ideal executive coaching client would be willing to help develop pertinent “homework” after each session with clear deadlines. Before the next session, he/she would look for examples in the work place that illustrated progress toward the goals sent—or lack there of. This would be food for discussion during the next coaching exchange.

I have many thoughts on my ideal client, so I’ll continue this in another post…..