Are you thinking about working with a coach in 2018? Nowadays it seems like everyone and their cousin and their neighbor calls themselves a coach. It has been one of the fastest growing professions in recent years – now estimated to be more than a 1 billion dollar industry.
Coaches can be extremely helpful in many different scenarios, whether it is helping you solve a particular strategic problem, improve your team’s performance, level-up your intimate relationships, enhance your personal leadership effectiveness, or make a massive life makeover.
However, choosing a coach can be quite a daunting process. Here are a few tips on things to consider if you are considering finding a coach.
What is the coach’s experience with coaching? What kind of training have they done? How long have they been doing coaching? How many people like you have they coached? What do their clients say about them? This may seem obvious, but it is so obvious that sometimes I see people skipping over this basic part of the screening process. Experience is important – it is not the only thing, but it is certainly a thing. Ask for qualifications. Find out what kind of methodology or assessment or model your coach uses, and ask them why. Make sure you get a coach who knows what they are doing… unless you’re getting a bargain working with someone who is just starting out.
If you are looking for a career coach, Find a coach who has done – or is doing – what you want to be doing. If you are looking for a coach more for enhancing the personal or relationship or spiritual areas of your life, look for a coach who feels the way that you want to be feeling. To put this another way, find a coach whose lived experience of work/love/life matches what you want for yourself. If you are a startup CEO, find a coach who has walked a mile in those shoes. If you want to heal your marriage, find a coach who has been in the trenches of marital discord and lived to tell the tale. If you are a female executive navigating the challenges of the old boys' club, find a coach who has been in your seat at the table. You want to connect with someone who can offer guidance from his or her own personal lived experience.
Point of Focus
Get a sense of what your potential coach's focus and strength areas are by checking out their online persona. Read the coach’s blog posts. Listen to the coach’s podcast. Scroll through the copy on his or her website. Skim their recommendations on LinkedIn. Look at what they post on social media. Do the topics and perspectives represented there align with your coaching needs and focus? You don’t necessarily need to agree with every single point of view that they put out into the world. But you should definitely feel an overall sense of alignment or attraction when you connect with the thought leadership that your coach is putting out into the world.
Assessing emotional resonance often requires a face to face, or at least voice to voice meeting. It is a knowing that comes from somewhere beyond the logical and rational. Does the presence of the coach help your nervous system relax or are you on guard? Is their voice at once comforting and inspiring? Do you feel like you can tell them anything and everything about your innermost thoughts and feelings? You may be slogging through some tough things with your coach, looking into your beliefs, your behaviors, your persistent patterns. It’s hard work at times. At the end of your conversation, do you feel heard, seen, relieved and re-centered and refocused? If that is not your experience, then it’s going to be a lot harder to keep going to make big changes.
Trust and Truth
Having a trust based relationship is critical for a successful coaching dynamic. If you don't have this, it is a non-starter. Is this coach someone who will tell you the things you don’t want to hear, in a way that you can hear them? Do you respond to a direct, confrontational style of communication? Do you tend to open up more in a space where they are held in compassion? Most of the time, we need a little bit of both. By far the most important, most essential thing for a successful coaching experience is being able to trust your coach is upholding your best interests, rather than running a program based on their own ego agenda...or, trying to please you. You must know he/she is willing to share uncomfortable truths with you because they are fully in it for your expansion and growth .
Now there are a number of massive databases of coaches you can find online. But this would be a lot like picking a doctor or an interior decorator or a therapist or a hairstylist out of a phone book. You don't really do that, do you? Unless you're new in town and you don't know anyone to ask...
Choosing a coach is a highly personal and critically important decision that will shape your life. So to filter through the noise and protect yourself from information overwhelm, my suggestion is to start your search by asking for recommendations and referrals from your friends. Ask people you know and trust, (and who know you) to connect you with the people that they know and trust.
If you are curious about working with me, I will tell you that I am a great coach for leaders who are leading teams through significant changes – especially for those who want to learn to lead more compassionately and consciously. And I am a perfect fit for women professionals who are looking to redefine their relationship to work and embrace more wholeness, purpose and ease.