How to choose the right coach for you
For over a decade, coaches and coaching courses have been springing up like “mushrooms after the rain.” When you type the word “coach” or “coaching” into Google, you get millions of hits. So, how do you choose a coach that fits you and your needs? And how do you choose someone that will successfully coach you in reaching your goals?
I also work with coaches myself. I have worked with a presentation coach, a business coach, and a self-development coach. I believe that in order to live an aware life and career, you need a coach. You can try to figure it all out by yourself, but this will take much more time and the results will be less certain.
Through 11 years of being a coach and being coached myself, I have developed a clear understanding of what makes a great coaching relationship and how you can choose a coach that best fits you.
I have divided the qualifications into two main categories: basic and specific ones.
Here is what I consider the basic qualifications to look for in a coach:
Always check the relevant education of your potential coach. A lot of people call themselves coach without even completing any relevant type of coaching education. Coaching is very different to mentoring or giving advice (consulting). As coaching is a free profession, there are no minimum professional standards or evaluation committees to evaluate or ensure a certain level of quality or expertise.
Although coaching is not psychotherapy, it does require a deeper knowledge and understanding of the human psyche. My coaching / counselling studies took a full year, which I felt was the perfect time to prepare me - both as a person and professional - to be able to perform my work as a coach. I am not saying that every coach should complete a year-long study, it could be shorter or longer, I am just saying it is a serious matter.
Being a life expert
Equally important is to know if your coach has some life experience in the topic. If they are a career change coach, have they changed careers themselves? If they are an expat coach, did they live abroad? If they are a business coach, are they successful in their business? Theoretically it is possible to coach someone to climb Mount Everest without having been there yourself, but would you prefer to be coached by someone who stood on the top and understands the process you are going through, or by someone who coaches you from the comfort of their chair?
Next to the above mentioned basic criteria, I noticed that there are some important specific criteria to evaluate - the “soft” ones.
Do you feel a positive connection with your coach? When I started my coaching practice, I was taking almost all clients that came on my path, irrespective of whether I felt a personal click or not. I was hungry to coach. But after some years I realised that I wanted to work only with people where there was a personal click. 99 percent of the time I know immediately after the first phone call if there is a click. When you feel this personal click, you'll trust your coach more easily and quickly and as a result, you will achieve a better outcome yourself. Do not be afraid to follow your instincts.
A “growing” coach
Is your coach developing themselves as a person and as a professional? We are all humans and we all fight our inner struggles. The more time, money and energy your coach is investing in themselves, the better they will be able to help you achieve your results. In a way, you need a coach whose vision is bigger than your own. You need someone who will challenge you and support you, and stimulate you to go beyond your own goals.
I chose my business coach because I know that she is continuously investing in herself and has a great set of tools and, at the same time, is focused on growing as a person. I also apply the same principle to my own coaching education.
Is your coach well connected? This point is especially important if you are looking for a new career, but also if you are starting or growing your business. Does your coach have an extensive network and are they willing to use it to your benefit?
Study the testimonials of the previous clients of your potential coach. What do they say about them and their coaching skills? Is the outcome of their coaching experience in line with what you are looking for?
Last but not least, always follow your gut feeling when selecting a coach! Please share what you think is the most important when selecting a coach in the comments below.