How to Choose a Coach

Hand picking from a plate of fruit and small pancakes.

There are dozens of articles on the web that will give you a list of what to look for when you invest in coaching.  The primary caveat in most of those will be the need to find a coach with proper training and, if possible, certifications, attesting to the depth and degree of that training.

There are hundreds of coaching programs ranging from 2 weeks to 12 months. They may consist of elements of online and in person training, coach mentoring, and hands on coaching ranging from 10 hours to 350 hours. Many offer certifications, which, in some cases, require ongoing professional development and provide the basis for ethical coaching through codes of conduct or standards.

Coaching specializations can be industry specific (business, sports, health) or function specific such as for leadership, relationships, health and wellness, happiness, recovery, grief or trauma, spirituality, or performance. 

The International Coaching Federation  (ICF) is seen to be the gold standard in certifying executive and life coaches. ICF provides a plethora of resources for coaches to develop their skills over time through graduated certifications, access to coaching demos and lectures as well as a very comprehensive Code of Ethics that protects clients and ensures competency and fair dealing.

Many people who choose coaching as a career have a background in other specialties or industries.  Therapists and psychologists may move into a coaching as a way to extend and expand their services.  Business specialists such as management consultants or organizational change experts may parlay other designations into coaching or consulting businesses.  Coaches may use a variety of assessment and measurement tools to help to determine a value set, or attempt to quantify leadership or management attributes in order to ascertain the gaps in skill sets that help to develop emerging leaders or improve team performance.

Given this checkerboard of possibilities, how do you know who to go to for the specific coaching needs you have?

  1. You probably know already whether you need a life coach for social or personal coaching, a career coach for a job search or a leadership (executive) coach in order to become a better manager and people strategist.  While all of these professions work with similar methodologies, they are geared for different outcomes and can help to target the major issues of concern.  It’s worth noting that coaching, advising and consulting are actually three different functions and, while there may be a bit of overlap, a good coach recognizes and assumes your own capacity to dig in to find answers that are actionable and lasting.
  2. Because there are so many people hanging out their coaching shingles, it pays to find out what training that coach has and whether it includes peer or mentor feedback, ongoing professional development and an ethical framework. What experience does this coach have that is pertinent to your issue?
  3. Most important, will that coach take the time to discuss your desired outcomes and goals for the coaching relationship before insisting on a contract or exchanging remuneration.

Benefits from good coaching can be positive and life-changing. Take the time to find the right person that will speak your language and hear and understand your issues; and better yet, be a trusted guide to a better life or work experience.

Photo by Svitlana on Unsplash

Photo by Richard Bell on Unsplash

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