As anyone who knows me or has been to any of my workshops or talks will testify – I love coaching. Having a great leader help someone get on track, gain clarity, expand their mind or their career path or laser their skills and strengths goes right to the core of what I believe coaching, and leadership, is all about. However coaching, like leadership, comes in many shapes and sizes and can also lead people astray or even confuse or distract them.
There are many individuals, organizations and franchise operations out there trying to make inroads into workplace, career and leadership coaching or attempting the transition from ‘life coaching’ to ‘business coaching’.
A deregulated market, these days anyone can call themselves a coach. The problem is that the position of a coach is one of trust. Coaches should be people that can add real value and perspective to what you are trying to achieve. A coach should have credibility, substance and experience and be able to communicate the essentials effectively. Most importantly a coach must listen first and support you in the way that suits you and your needs, not just follow a formula or process.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you should steer clear of coaching – quite the opposite in fact as I believe good coaching promotes creativity, performance and resilience and there are many exceptional coaches out there.
What I do recommend is that like any investment, that you do your research. Before taking on a coach, I recommend you ask for a free introductory session, a taste test, so you can evaluate the coach and their skills. Here are five things you might look for:
1 – How successful has the coach been in their own career? (If in doubt ask to see their resume!)
2 – Do they have real life leadership experience? (Remember it doesn’t need to be in your field of expertise to be effective.)
3 – Do they listen more than they talk? (Coaching is all about you, not the coaches agenda and ego.)
4 – Do they ask powerful questions to challenge you in seeking the truth? (Do you find yourself saying ‘Hmm good question’ and having to think before answering?)
5 – Do they demonstrate ethics and integrity? (A good coach will maintain your confidentiality no matter what – they never, ever gossip. Additionally they may be members of and abide by a professional Code of Ethics – such as ICF’s http://www.icfaustralasia.com/CodeOfEthics.html.)
Coaching shouldn't be a long drawn out process to make the most money and have people coming back again and again. It should only take a couple of sessions for you to have pinpointed some clear challenges and goals and started taking action towards them. Depending on what you hope to achieve your coach should be upskilling you so eventually they become redundant and you can keep yourself on track. It should be effective, to the point, challenging and direct.
Therefore if you are considering hiring a coach, be sure to get a taste test first so you can tell if it is indeed sweet advice or just a smooth sales pitch.
All the best