Executive coaching is an integral part of personal and business success.

The International Coaching Federation, a leading organization for developing, guiding and certifying coaches, estimates that in 2016 there were 17,500 coach practitioners with a growing client base in North America alone.

There is also a growing number of managers/leaders using and developing coaching skills in their businesses. A 2016 survey revealed the worldwide number of professional coaches has risen to 64,100 from 47,500 in 2012. This does not include people who are coaching with other credentials, such as financial expertise, marketing expertise, operational expertise and counseling expertise.

Senior executives and business owners seek out coaches who can help grow their business, develop managers and teams, and align senior management with the strategic direction of the firm.

Persistent economic challenges have sent clear signals to all levels of a business that external coaching is needed. Many business leaders know they are not being prepared to deal with volatility, complex issues, limited time, conflicting agendas, and uncertainty about the future of their companies. Little wonder why they seek outside assistance.

The challenges faced by all business owners, corporate executives and managers prompt them to seek experienced coaches who listen without judgment, understand the circumstances they face, offer advice and wisdom, problem-solve, or who can offer recommendations to transform an organization.

How do business owners find the right coach?

The most important criterion is the chemistry a coach has with the employee being coached. It is someone you feel you can trust to achieve the results you want because the coach clearly understands your need and has a convincing approach. You have the personal confidence that the coach is credible, capable and ethical — someone you want to build a trusting relationship with.

Another is the coach’s reputation and relevant credentials. A broad base of experience can be of benefit when the assignment is to capture new insights from other industries.

Many employees prefer a coach who understands and fits their organization and its culture. A coach can become disruptive and cause more harm than good. And, creative coaches provide new ideas and different perspectives.

A coach who is flexible in responding to all the employee’s disclosures can open up different paths of discussion. When these paths are integrated with information from other associates, this leads to the person being coached functioning more effectively in helping to achieve company goals.

The employee benefits from seeing a variety of relevant paths. Such agility is important in keeping up with the pace and complexities of the worker’s business.

A coach’s challenge is to anticipate concerns and go forward with practical recommendations. Clarity of communication is critical.

This process helps the worker to develop self-efficacy. Psychologist Alfred Bandura in 1994 defined self efficacy as “the belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage in a particular situation.” It remains a basis of decision-making behavior today and contributes to the sustainability of coaching benefits when the external coach inevitably leaves.

Accessibility and confidentiality are essential criteria for selecting a coach. All coaches, too, have an obligation to treat their relationship with a worker as confidential.

Does coaching work? Yes. Good coaches provide a truly important service. They tell you the truth when no one else will,” says Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric. Small business owners see the results in better teamwork, greater customer service, and higher earnings.

Bob Vecchiotti is a business adviser and professional coach. His email is rav@leadershipexpert.com