How Much is an Executive Coach?

What holds you back most from getting a professional coach? I’ll bet it is “Fear of the Cost (FOTC).” Perhaps?

Some of us are fortunate that our manager and the organization we work for recognize the value of coaching and make it a line item in your department’s (or Human Resources’) budget. Unfortunately for others, it has been just “the fortunate few,” only top-tier leaders or specially chosen high potentials (and, say, how does one get into those groups?!) who are offered coaching as part of a professional development plan, paid for by the company.

The number who are paying (and paving) their own way to greater self-awareness, skill development and leadership capacity building is growing. More than ever before, your career’s future is in your hands, and there are multiple paths and opportunities that lead to that next role or milestone you have your eye on.

With coaching certification numbers for the International Coaching Federation (ICF) surging around the globe, that organization alone has over 38,0001 professionally trained members available for you to choose from in more than 160 countries. There are thousands more who have been coaching professionally for many years and probably do not see the value of a credential with the clientele and references they have amassed (and rightfully so), and thousands more who are certified through other well-respected coaching organizations.

Now, as we proceed here, we will (admittedly) adopt a North American perspective, using U.S. dollars and approximate Western price ranges for illustration. The question at top of mind: What’s the price?!

You can expect coaches to charge between $150 and $650 per hour for their expertise. Those nearer the lower end might have only one to three years of experience, or they specialize in coaching newer leaders who are either looking to move into the role of manager or shift to a new career or industry. Nonprofit organizations can also expect lower rates or service discounts—sometimes pro bono sessions—from many coaches.

It does tend to follow that the higher a leader/coachee, the higher the price per hour. Middle managers—those whose direct reports are likely managers themselves, such as senior managers and directors—might find the coach will charge $250 to $450 per hour, depending on their years of coaching experience. Some command more per hour if they have depth and expertise in the industry of the coachee.

Coaches of leaders in the executive leadership team will likely start between $500 and $650 per hour but can range into four digits. Many shift to being “on retainer” due to a successful coaching history with the organization and additionally meet with teams and/or multiple executives.

Whether or not these approximate figures fit into your current budget, let’s consider a case and do some math. A young entrepreneur, nearing his 30th birthday and seeking to break into the next level for his business, decides to engage a coach. He finds three individuals of interest through coachingfederation.org and LinkedIn and interviews each on Zoom. (That 30-minute interview is usually free, and, in fact, many coaches will give you a “free coaching session” of up to an hour to see if things should move forward to a contractual agreement.)

After selecting the one he believes understands his vision and goals and feels would most effectively support and challenge him, they set up a six-month contract, meeting 13 times or roughly every other week for one hour. The fee is set at $350 per hour, making the grand total (without any additional fees for assessments that might be advantageous to take and discuss) $4,550. Half is due at the start, then monthly payments and the remaining balance is due within one week of the final coaching session.

Here is a radical thought: This young entrepreneur does not see this as a new line item in his budget or an expense to his business that prevents other purchases or advances nor another bill to be paid, but as an indispensable and invaluable investment. Unquestionable, even—just like buying the laptop, keyboard and headset for his latest new hire to use daily to complete her work.

You see, with this professional coach’s assistance, he will get the help he needs, the perspective he is lacking and vision into his blind spots that only “fresh eyes” and experience can bring. His coach will provide the accountability for him to do what needs doing and be what needs being. He needs to grow himself in order to grow his business.

This young entrepreneur met with that coach for six months and, at its conclusion, thanked her and went on his way. He reached out to her another six months later, at the one-year anniversary of their first meeting, to say, “Thanks again!” By that point, he had hired 12 additional employees, established a second office in another part of the country and added two new products to their line, tripling the value of his business.

Was the $4,550 worth it? The coaching he received “paid it forward” well into six digits! His employees, his customers and not the least of all, he himself benefitted from the investment.

So, is it worth it for you to invest in a coach, even if your current employer isn’t offering it as a perk, benefit or growth opportunity just yet?

Perhaps.

 

1History of ICF. https://coachingfederation.org/history. Accessed September 8, 2021.