Who Is A Coach And How Do I Find Them?
September 18, 2012 • comment(s)
Click Here For Part One of This Series: "Is It Time For You To Choose A Coach?"
There are several factors to consider in hiring a coach; however, there are two that take precedence: education and experience.
Just as you would hire any other professional, it pays to look for training and professional credentials. Coaching is a profession that has no licensing or certification requirements. That means anyone can print up a business card and call themselves “coach.” Many people think they make good coaches as friends, colleagues and family members often come to them for advice. Remember that advice-giving and coaching are two very different things! You want to look for a coach that, at a minimum, has completed a coach training program. While this is a good first step, you will need to ask about the length of the training program and on-going continuing education requirements. Coach training programs run the gamut from weekend courses to degree programs offered by universities. A coach that has been credentialed earns an even higher mark for professionalism. Click here for a free guide to hiring a coach published by the ICF.
The other important criterion is experience. How long has your coach been coaching professionally? What did they do prior to becoming a coach? Given that coaching is such a new field, most coaches have worked in another field or endeavor before becoming a coach. What is their experience and how can that benefit you?
To be effective, a coach does not have to been an expert in your field. Remember that you would want to hire a consultant that is an expert in your field. For coaching, you are looking for someone with a background that reflects an ability to strategize and to support you in reaching your goals. There are coaches whose background serves them very well in supporting clients in their field. Examples are a former attorney who now coaches attorneys or a financial advisor who now coaches other advisors. If you are looking for a coach with a specific background, start with professional associations for that industry or field as they may have reference information for coaches who specialize in that field or industry.
Where Do You Find a Coach?
Now that you know the support you are looking for will come from a professional coach, how do you find one? As with any professional search, a great place to start is by asking friends and colleagues if they know or have worked with any coaches. Personal recommendations can give you a feel for the coach’s approach and level of success. Know also that you may still need to ascertain whether the person recommended is truly a coach, not to be confused with a therapist or consultant. You have the advantage of knowing the difference. Your friend or colleague may not.
If your quest for personal recommendations turns up few leads, the Internet is chock full of resources. A quick Google search for “professional coach” yielded only 362 million results. There must be a way to narrow the search! Start with one of these online directories offered by professional associations for coaches:
- International Coach Federation (ICF) (coachfederation.org) – Coach Referral Service http://www.coachfederation.org/clients/crs/
- Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) (www.wabccoaches.com) - Coach Directory http://members.wabccoaches.com/members/source/custom/paDirectoryPublicSearch.cfm
You may wish to limit your search to your geographical region if you prefer to work with a coach in person. However, many clients choose to work with a coach over the telephone, which broadens the field of potential coaches they can work with. You may wonder how this can work effectively, but a vast majority of coaching is conducted remotely. As you search for coaches to work with, you can also explore working remotely by interviewing a few coaches that are not located near you.
How will I know?
How will you know a coach is right for you? Considering that: (1) you have done your homework and identified what you want to be coached on, (2) you are ready for outside input and change, and (3) you’ve searched and narrowed the field to professionally trained coaches and perhaps ones specific to your industry - now it is all about chemistry. Much like dating or hiring any other professional, you need to feel a level of comfort and trust, a rapport. Yes, a coach can be the one to challenge you and kick you in the pants, yet they can only serve you effectively if there is a true partnership. Remember our earlier definition of coaching – it is a co-creative relationship between a client and a coach that serves to transition you - the client - from where you are to where you want to be. Let coaching be the catalyst for you to soar to higher heights!
Barbara Stewart is an ICF Associate Certified Coach and founded Accelus Partners in 2010 after a twenty year career in business and finance coaching. Barbara’s experience uniquely positions her to support clients in a variety of ways. Rethinking and reinvention were hallmarks of her early career years as she found ways to continue growing and enhancing her skill set in an international environment.