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The Good Coach

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

Hello beautiful humans!

How do you know you're hiring a 'Good Coach'? How do you know if the coach you are working with is the coach for you?

In the words of John Wooden, "A good coach can change a game. A great coach can change a life." (I love that quote!)

I recently attended a workshop presented by a 'coach' whom I will allow to remain anonymous. The workshop was 8 hours of the attendees being told that we were doing things all wrong and being given instructions on what we needed to do in order to do things right. (Insert eye roll here!)

During the lunch break I took the opportunity to introduce myself as a fellow coach who was currently attending Coach U and working towards my certification with the ICF. The silence that followed as a bit awkward as she stared blankly at me. I felt as if I might be speaking a foreign language that she didn't quite understand. This turned out to be the truth on a level I did not even realize, but that's another story.

I continued again to make a connection with her. I asked where she had trained to be a coach. "I didn't go to school to become a coach. I don't really think that's what's necessary to be a 'good' coach." Caught a bit off-guard and, yes, more than a little offended, I retorted with, "Maybe not, but it IS necessary to be a great one!" (insert mic drop here!) Ok, so perhaps I could have just smiled and walked away. In hindsight, I probably should have, but when I say I was offended, well...

Folks, if I needed brain surgery, I wouldn't go to a self-proclaimed surgeon who had no training and whose only qualification was that they woke up one day and decided to be a brain surgeon. I'm going to a professional who has taken the time and energy to learn all they can to be the best that they can be. Why should coaching be any different? ...AND... what would an actual brain surgeon have to say about someone pretending to be a brain surgeon anyway? I'm fairly sure, it would be pretty similar to my own reaction and probably far worse.

Unfortunately, coaching is not a regulated profession. Although you can obtain an education in coaching and there are certifications you can earn through accredited organizations (International Coaching Federation being the most prominent) they are not required, except in Switzerland. This means that when you are looking to hire a coach for your business or even your personal self, they can be anyone with any amount of education or experience.

Just like any other profession, education and experience do not always equal quality either. So they may have 20 years of experience and certifications galore, but does that really guarantee that they are a "Good Coach"? Not really! Maybe they have no edication or experience at all, does that guarantee they are a "Bad Coach"? Nope! Just because there is not a governing body requiring coaches to be certified doesn't mean you can't require it. Experience and training, certifications and accreditations aside, what requirements would you have? What are your standards? Don't compromise what make you feel comfortable.

Before we go too much farther, let's understand that one of the most important things to have with a coach is a connection. As a client, you need to feel safe and unjudged when with your coach. You need to be able to easily and vulnerably explore and discover what is inside of you. Think of it this way... You most likely have at least one close friend or family member who you can talk to about anything. Things that you would not talk to a complete stranger about, right? That connection is important because you feel heard and acknowledged. Your connection with a coach should provide that as well.

So if you don't have a connection with a coach, does that mean they are a "Bad Coach"? Of course not! You may have a personality conflict that is standing in the way and preventing you from making that needed connection. Perhaps their coaching model and/or strategy doesn't align with your values. Again, this doesn't mean they are a bad coach, they may just not be the coach for you.

Another aspect of finding a good coach that you will want to consider, albeit an obvious one, is their specialty. Most coaches are able to coach a variety of different types of clients, but they normally have one specialty where they may have more training and experience than others or where they focus a majority of their professional work. Maybe they specialize in relationships, maybe they work with entrepreneurs or youth, health, finances, career growth, etc. You want a coach who works in an area that you feel will benefit you most. This may change over time and your need to find a different coach may change, too! That's ok! Coaching is one profession where you know you are successful if you are no longer needed!

A common misconception is that a coach has all the answers and will advise you on exactly what you should do. Um.... not really! A good coach isn't out to solve your problems for you. Their goal is to help you find the clarity and insight for you to discover the solutions yourself. I know, some of you are thinking, "then what am I paying them for?" Indulge me for a moment.

Let's say you are working on a project, maybe at work or maybe a hobby, and you've come to a problem that is preventing you from continuing. How would it make you feel for a stranger to appear and not only provide the answer to the problem, but complete the project themselves? You would not feel very accomplished would you? You would not feel as if you had succeeded or completed your goal? After all, the work was done by someone else and they're going to get all the appreciation, praise and glory from it, right? Forget about the fact that it was your project to begin with or what you have accomplished with it so far.

Speaking from experience, it can give you a very dissatisfied and empty feeling. Sometimes even a feeling of inadequacy. No body wants that! So I will say it again! A good coach doesn't want to solve your problems for you. They want YOU to succeed. They want YOU to embrace that accomplishment and feeling of success. Their goal is for you utilize the tools and resources that they can provide to guide you into reaping the benefits of reaching your own goals. THAT is what you are paying them for!

Ok, so you're looking for someone who has a background(I.e. references, education, experience, etc.) that aligns with your standards, someone you can create a connection with, someone who works in a specialty that fits your needs and someone who is not going to do the work for you... Is that it?

All of this, still doesn't guarantee that a coach is a "Good Coach". So what does?

In my opinion, and I REALLY want to stress that part, I believe that what makes a good coach good is passion. Passion for coaching, for their clients and for their client's success. When someone truly believes in what they are doing and they are doing it because they love it and because they truly want to make a difference and help others to make a difference... when they believe in themselves and what they do... that, my fellow humans, is not only what makes a good coach good, but it makes a good coach great!

Morals of the Story:

  1. Set your own requirements for the backgrounds, references, education and experience.

  2. Find a coach you can make a connection with and aligns with your values.

  3. Look for a coach specializing in the area of work that you want to focus on.

  4. Find a coach who truly believes in and has passion for their work and your success.

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