Choosing A Coach & Advisor
Things to Consider:
1. Figure out what you would like to get out of your Coaching experience
It is very difficult to know when you have arrived if you have no idea where you are going. Most coaches will spend part of the first meeting assisting you to sort out your priorities and your goals so that both of you are on the same page when it comes to knowing what you would like to get out of the coaching experience. For some people, they have specific problem areas. Others, just want to be able to fine tune their abilities to handle their world around them on a weekly basis. Both types of agendas are legitimate as long as there is a clear understanding about them.
Another good reason for being clear about your needs for Coaching is to insure that your Coach has the ability to address them. It is very O.K. to ask questions about background and experience in the areas of your concerns. I will answer all questions and will tell you if it might be better to find someone with more expertise for your particular needs, if I think that will better serve you.
2. Make sure that the Coach is someone who is in the business of coaching.
There are a lot of well meaning people who have taken a course and are supplementing their day job with some coaching on the side. When choosing a Coach, I would look for someone who is dedicated to the field, who is accessable and who has a track record of providing coaching services.
3. Look for membership in professional coaching orginizations.
If your coach is a member of professional organizations such as, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) it will give you an indication that at the least he subscribes to their code of ethics. To me, this code is one of the organizations finest achievements. It puts, up front, a high standard that clients can, and should, hold their coaches to.
4. Look at the kind to training that the coach has received.
Most coaches who have joined the field in the last eight years or so have usually been through IFC sanctioned courses. Some of the old timers in the field, like me, have gotten their skills on-the-job (we had to invent the wheel that they are teaching now) and through related trainings. For me, I am also a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner and certified Hypnotherapist. In fact, I was using the term "Life Coach" to describe my private practice way back in the 1980s. To stay up to date with state of the art coaching philosophy and techniques, I have done major coursework with Erickson College, Coachville and the Coach Training Alliance
5. What part of the coaching field is he most comfortable working in?
It's real good to ask exactly what kinds of coaching your potential coach has been doing. If he is mainly experienced in coaching high powered executives and you are looking for a personal Life Coach, you probably are going to need to look elsewhere.
6. Personally, who is he?
It is quite legitimate to ask about the non-coaching parts of the coach's life and how he views at the universe around him. The coaching/mentoring process is a very intimate one that requires a bit of trust, especially on your part. It is important to know where he is coming from on issues that are of importance to you. Some examples: if you are gay, it would probably be cruciall to know if he was comfortable with that; if you are an ultra-conservative person, you would not be very comfortable with a very progressive Coach.
7. Is he a winner in his own life?
How successful was your prospective coach in his own life, in the areas in which you are going to need his assistance? If you need someone who can assist you to overcome stage fright, your coach ought not to have the same problem himself. That would be a great example of the blind leading the blind and you can get that kind of assistance without paying for it.
8. Is he forthcoming about his own life and life experiences?
By now, I hope you have gotten the idea that you need to know a lot about this person who you are going to invite (hire) to join you in your quest for a more successful and joyous life. Everything about his past is relevent. I would have problems trusting anyone who is hesitant to or refuses to talk about his life before and since becoming a Life.
9. Does he ask thought provoking questions?
If I was looking for a Coach, I would want to find someone who would be questioning my assumptions and views and ways of doing things. If all those things were functioning exquisitly, I probably would not be in the market for a Life Coach. Hiring a yes man might flatter your ego, but it certainly won't assist you to grow in your life. Most people look at their experience of life through emotional filters that are colored by their past experiences. What a good Life Coach will do is to assist you to challenge those assumptions (the filters) that you live by and that get in the way of your growth.
10. If there are any testimonials?
Check out any testimonials he might have and ask if there are any former or current clients who might be willing to talk about his coaching. I would caution that this is a bonus suggestion. Most people who engage a coach do not wish that world to know that they are doing so. I have many success stories that can't be told because my clients prefer to be very private about their lives. I have often been described as successful people's secret weapon.
11. Don't put too much weight on his fees.
I had a friend who used to say that his competitors knew the value of their services and products and priced them accordingly. The cheapest rate is not always the best value. Coaches are not all of equal skill and competence, therefore comparing their rates needs to have much less weight in your deliberations on who to hire than who can assist you the best. Sure, you need to be looking for Coaches that are in your price range. It is my experience that in the long run, competence trumps low price because competence will probably get you to your goals more effectively and quicker and that is a much better investment for your life.
12. What is your gut level feeling about him and his being your Coach?
There might be part of you that does not know what to do next. That is why you are in this process of chosing an advisor and mentor. What you do know is how you are initially feeling about your potential coach. It matters not how many credentials, skills, levels of experience, past background, or lofty levels of success your potential Coach has. In my way of thinking, the bottom line in your decision making has to be, "Is this a person that I feel (and this is all about your feelings) that I can rely on, trust, and am very comfortable talking to? Is this someone who I can trust to be giving good counsel and can follow his suggestions?" This means that if you have either good or bad feelings about the suitability of the potential coach, you are probably right! Trust those feelings.