Starting a coaching process is not an easy decision. Finding the right person to support you in that process is essential! Since I became a certified coach, people often ask me what they should look for when choosing a coach to suit their needs. How do they know the coach is legit? Experienced? Specialised? So, in this article, I have compiled 5 important aspects to look out for, as well as some “red flags”.
Coaching is the universal language of change and learning – CNN
This is the most important skill a coach must have. They will hold the space for you to express yourself and say whatever is on your mind. They reflect your thoughts back to you, making way for the so-called ‘aha moment’ to happen. You are the centre of attention during the coaching session; a space created only for you. A coach should not share their own experience, or will ask permission if they feels it’s relevant. By listening, they will ask questions to dig deeper, helping you find your answers.
Red flag: In your first meeting with the coach, the discovery call, pay attention to how the coach listens to you. If you find yourself constantly cut off, or if the coach is too willing to share their own life experience, that’s a red flag.
2. Coach Personal Transformation Journey
The coach ideally has experienced transforming themselves, whether personally, professionally or both. They are constantly learning and improving on themselves, and you will feel inspired by their journey. They understand you because they’ve been through something similar. And to be of good service to the people they coach, they should make a conscious effort to declutter their own life and mind constantly.
Red flag: Do not hesitate to ask questions about the coach’s transformational journey. If the coach is unwilling to share their journey with you, or even how they started coaching, that’s a red flag.
Coaches follow a strict code of conduct, and confidentiality is absolutely key. You will share very confidential information about your life – perhaps things you never shared with anyone else before – so you need to feel 100% safe to be open. For effective coaching, you must share all what’s on your mind, or you will not reach your objectives. A confidentiality agreement or ethical guidelines agreement can be proposed, if you feel this is necessary. Remember, a coach is your accountability partner and will never judge you.
Red flag: During the discovery session, if the coach shares any confidential information about their clients, such as name, profession, or details about the coaching, that can be a red flag.
4. Clear Coaching Programme
A coach should have a programme, or at least a structure for each session, and this should be explained during the discovery session. You should feel comfortable to ask any questions about this programme, for example, you might have specific needs, for which the programme needs to adapted, so the coach must show flexibility. It’s worth knowing that coaching is a lot of work for you! You will have work to do between the coaching sessions, which is part of your journey. The coach should ask about your current situation and assess honestly if this is the right time for you to start the programme.
Red flag: “After my coaching you’ll be an amazing human being!” Or “You will have your dream career by the time we’re done!” Or “Trust me, sign up, all my clients are millionaires now!” Don’t buy into this kind of talk. Watch out for any promises that sound too good to be true! This is always a red flag. A more compelling speech would be, “If you do the work and are committed to your growth, you’ll see the benefits of coaching.”
5. Coach Credentials
All coaches should have been through training, to at least learn the basics of coaching. There are international certifications such as ICF (International Coaching Federation) that deliver certifications at different levels. Remember, a coach is not to be confused with a mentor; there is a difference. A mentor is somebody who guides you because of their experience and expertise, whereas a coach does not need to be an expert in your field. Instead, they help you to find answers and solutions. A coaching programme can mix both coaching and mentoring, but the coach must be clear about this.
Red flag: If you need to research the coach’s credentials, or ask questions about it, that’s a red flag in itself. Never deny your gut feeling! If you feel that something is off, that you don’t feel at ease with this person, then you must follow your intuition. Maybe this coach just isn’t the right one for you, and you don’t need to rationalise it.
If you’re looking for a leadership or career coach, please do not hesitate to contact me. Book your discovery call today! I would love to hear your story and see how I could support you in your journey.