What to Look for in a Coach

When I interview potential clients we always talk about their experience with coaching.

Many talk about sports coaches they had growing up in high school and college.

Others have tried group coaching and even one-on-one private coaching.

Often their experiences have been less than ideal – or worse.

One person had a “life coach” picked for her by the president of her company. That coach gave her such sage advice as to be mindful of her wardrobe when in meetings with men. What?!

Another person related a story where the leader of a national coaching organization said that he didn’t really care if their members achieve their goals, as long as they paid their dues – just like a gym membership.

Oy! No wonder people are skeptical about coaching and coaches.

If you’re thinking about coaching for the first time – or maybe again – you might consider looking for these qualities in any coach that you interview.

Experience. How well does your coach know your profession, your business, and your industry? What has he or she accomplished? What have they overcome? You want someone who’s walked the walk in real life – not from a book. Ask about clients they’ve worked with who are in similar situations. Read testimonials. Talk to references.

Attitude. Great attitude comes from time and experience – including making mistakes and figuring out how to recover. The right coach will have been through it all and have perspective and a sense of humor about it. You’ll want a coach that is patient, persistent, and determined.

Willing to share. A great coach will share their experiences with you – including the bad ones. If you feel like a person is holding back, or won’t share how they stumbled then keep looking. Seek radical transparency and a real person.

Listens and asks great questions. You need a coach that listens to you – both for what you say and what you left unsaid. A great coach will read between the lines and ask questions that make you stop and think more deeply. They will hear you and challenge you. They will help you see truths you don’t want to see – when you don’t want to see them – in a way you can digest.

Access and focus. You ought to have open access to your coach at all reasonable times – not just during your regular sessions. Your coach needs to be responsive to you and your needs. You’ll also want to be wary of programs that take each person from the same place of beginning and work you in a lock-step linear progression – because that’s not how life works.

Accountability. You’ll want a coach that holds you accountable to show up and do the work. You’re making a significant investment and part of that is getting the push – and helping you knock down what’s in the way.

KLT. You need to know, like and trust (that’s the KLT) the person who will be your thinking partner, confidant, and mentor. Take the time to establish that at the beginning. If the coach won’t open up or it doesn’t feel right – then keep looking.

Did you find this helpful? Would you like to know more? Click here to get the complete Guide to Picking the Right Executive Coach or send me a direct message and let’s set up a discovery call.

Either way, don’t wait because I only have a few more openings this quarter – and you don’t want to miss out.


Doug BrownWhat to Look for in a Coach