When I talk with potential clients, I notice two distinct camps. The first regularly invests in personal growth. Books, podcasts, coaching, conferences or workshops, these people consistently set aside a portion of their time and income to grow their biggest asset, themselves! The second group doesn’t. Though they’re clearly stuck, I usually receive a variety of questions all pointing to the bigger underlying inquiry, “Why would I get a coach?”. And it’s totally valid and one I asked before hiring my first leadership coach! I had no idea what to expect, how it worked and what coaching could deliver. But I had evidence. People I highly respected had coaches and their life & business reflected accordingly. What they had, I wanted, and I wasn’t getting it on my own.
It was time to enlist help in order to grow.
Now, there is a fine line between answering some clarifying questions and convincing someone to hire me as their coach. I avoid the latter because inevitably the client won’t be invested in the process and that’s not productive for anyone. But if you really do need a few questions addressed, here are the most common I field:
What happens in a coaching conversation?
A coach believes their client is brilliant, capable and the answer they are seeking lies within, however they can’t see it on their own. A coach facilitates a thought provoking and clarifying conversation for the client, where the client is speaking 80% of the time and the coach, the other 20%. In coaching school, we’re taught how to ask thoughtful questions, the 100+ things to listen for in communication, how to reflect to the client what’s happening with body language, energy or delivery and how to appropriately challenge a client to their next level of capability.
How do you measure success with clients?
It is very individual to each client. At the beginning of the coaching relationship, I specifically ask what changes they would like to see through this process. This defines the finish line we’re aiming toward. Some successes I’ve celebrated with clients include:
no longer working weekends
instead of opening a boutique business, they found another company that better aligned with their values
creating ordering systems that saved $60,000 annually
an increase in confidence that brought more joy and purpose to their work
developing a successful system to communicate & delegate tasks to a new assistant
a 50% increase in revenue over the previous year
a business model change that better supported long term sustainability
…and on and on. However, I’ve witnessed many times, when a client opens to change, a fabulous opportunity they never could have predicted ends up crossing their path!
How do I work with a coach?
Walk into each coaching session with a subject matter you’d like clarity around. Even if it’s small issue, or you’re a little fuzzy about what exactly is causing stress, bring to the session what you know. A good coach will help you develop the topic, look at it from different angles and make progress. And sometimes it can take multiple sessions to truly work through an issue. Also, believe in the process & be coachable! Defensiveness, stubbornness or an argumentative attitude just won’t work! The solution to any issue almost always lies within, so a willingness to explore internal change is paramount.
How much do you know need to know about my industry?
A coach works from the premise that a client generally knows what to do, they know how to do it, where they get stuck is wondering why they aren’t doing it. Therefore, a coach doesn’t need experience in your industry to be effective. A coach needs to know how to structure a conversation and bring tools to the table to help the client have a greater awareness. If you truly want someone who knows your industry, you’re probably really looking for a Mentor or Consultant. A Mentor is someone who has walked your path, understands your experiences, can provide stories of how they handled situations. Whereas, a Consultant is an expert in a field and will tell you how to do it. They are the experts, you’re there to implement what they instruct.
What qualifies you to be a coach?
“Coach” isn’t a regulated word and there are a boatload of people calling themselves one, so this can get confusing. First, ask where they received their training. There are coaching schools with formal training, covering the skills necessary to structure effective coaching conversations. These schools are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF), a global organization existing to establish a standard of ethics and outline core competencies for the coaching profession. The ICF also awards credentials to individual coaches that meet outlined standards through education credits and documented coaching hours. Ask if they hold or have ever held a credential. Attending a weekend course to conduct debriefings on an assessment is not the same thing.
What is the coaching process?
You will find group coaching, individual coaching, mastermind groups and a variety of combinations. Some coaches use a curriculum (which can be more teaching & less true coaching) and others have a more organic, customized approach. Two things to look for when asking a coach this question. One, do they definitively know their process? Number of sessions, length of agreement and format for meeting. A coach knows what they’re good at and will attract clients who need what they have to offer. If they’re hesitant about how they work, then they probably don’t have the sort of experience you want on your side. The second, what do you need? Do you value community and variety of voices shedding light on your situation? Or would a private space you can be vulnerable and focus on confidential or deep internal work be better? When you know how you’re wired, it will be simpler to discern what process is a best fit.
Why should I get a coach?
One of my clients shared that Oprah has three coaches…THREE! After hearing that, she figured she better go get one. If you’re hungry to grow, want to avoid settling into a plateau or know you’ve come to the end of yourself and it’s evident you’re not finding the way on your own, it’s time to enlist support. Hiring a coach speeds up your growth process, equips you with effective tools and helps you move forward more clearly.
How do I find a coach?
One way is reaching out to a friend or colleague you respect to see if they’ve worked with a coach and who they would recommend. The second is visiting the International Coach Federation’s website to utilize their “Find a Coach” search. This database connects you with coaches from around the world and offers the ability to search on a variety of categories. And, of course there is me! Click here to schedule at 30-minute complimentary coaching session and we can explore what working together would look like.