How to choose the right person to guide you
Successful and forward-thinking people know that getting a professional coach is going to accelerate their path to their goals.
Actually, the more successful you are, the more you need coaching in order to keep that successful momentum going.
But how do you choose the right coach for YOU?
If we look at how coaching has developed culturally during the last 40 years, here’s a summary of what’s happening in the US:
- Late 1980s: “A coach? What’s a coach?”
- Early 1990s: “A coach? You mean, like…a corporate shrink?”
- Mid-to-late 1990s: “A coach? Am I in trouble?”
- Early 2000s: “A coach? Thanks – I think. ”
- Mid-to-late 2000s: “A coach? Great!”
- Now: “A coach? How long can I work with him/her – and do I get to choose the one I want?”
If we look at Europe, I would say we find ourselves between the mid-to-late 1990’s and the mid to late 2000s, which is a very good thing, given that the most forward-thinking companies and people nowadays consider coaching to be a necessity for growth.
The bad news is that, as with anything that gets popular, there are now many, many people jumping on the coaching wagon, offering themselves as executive coaches.
It’s really the wild wild West. Anyone can claim to be a coach.
Just a few weeks ago, a client of mine told me that an HR person had recommended a ‘coach’ for one of their executives, someone who said he’d been doing “executive development” for over a decade.
This person has only been a general HR employee without any type of specific coaching certification or education.
So, how do you know when a coach is good or not?
Here are some things to pay attention to:
Clarity in the description of their process: Really skilled coaches will be able to walk you through their process. That process should include helping you define your core challenges, see where you’re starting from, and where you want to go.
Skills: Great coaches will let you know that they can offer you useful new skills, awareness, and knowledge, and help you integrate what you’ve learned into your day-to-day life. They will be able to describe very specifically how they have worked with others to improve their leadership, management, and how they guided professionals to accelerate their careers.
Confidentiality: Good coaches make very clear agreements about confidentiality upfront with their coachees, and they keep those agreements. If a coach is evasive or unclear about what’s being shared and what’s held in confidence, or if you find out that he or she has shared confidential information – please end the engagement immediately.
They walk their talk: Make sure that your coach has walked the talk. Look for a coach who has personally experienced a situation similar to yours. (e.g. that they have a corporate background, or that they practice what they preach.)
There is great value in working with someone who can integrate what she/he has learned from his own experiences and share that wisdom with you. Coaching is incredibly personal, and a particular personality might work well for your colleague or friend but could be a disaster for you. If you want to learn how to ski, you would never hire a coach who has never been on their skis, right?
Actual success: Good coaches help their clients get clearer about how they can best contribute to their success, and then to achieve better results and become more highly promotable (if that’s what they want). If a coach can’t point to actual coaches who have improved in demonstrable ways as a result of being coached…why are you thinking about working with him or her?
A good coach can help you see yourself more accurately; get clear about how to best play to your strengths, and grow in the highest leverage and most feasible ways. He or she will be illuminating, strengthening and trustworthy. Make the choice carefully and you’ll benefit for years to come.
Taking some time in choosing the right person is key!
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