Although the industry of professional coaching is becoming more mainstream, it is still highly fragmented. There are some organizations, nationwide and even worldwide, that are attempting to put their stamp of approval on professional coaching. However, we have found that their official recognition is not yet founded in rigorous selection, qualification and practices. In addition, some coaching certification organizations are more interested in membership and financial gain than they are concerned with qualifications, standards of excellence and best practices.
There are very distinct differences between High Impact business and executive coaching, career coaching and other forms of coaching. High impact business and executive coaching focuses on the results; many other forms of coaching focus on the experiences. Big difference!
We have learned the following in our 18 years of practice. Coaching is not a “one-size-fits-all” phenomenon. No coach is the right coach for everyone. And you aren’t the right client for every coach.
The best way to discover if a given coach is the right coach for you is to use the following guidelines:
- Ask colleagues and friends that have used a coach to refer you to one – One of the best ways to find a qualified coach is to talk to people that have used a coach in the past in a similar circumstance, ask them to point you to one.
- Ask the person what results they produced with the coaching – Ask them what results they produced out of the coaching – Qualitative and or Quantitative in specific and measurable terms (i.e., dollars and cents).
- Ask the coach, “What do you have to offer that others coaches don’t?” – Interview the prospective coach on his/her qualifications, orientation and capabilities. Listen to the distinct differentiation and its applicability to your situation.
- Ask the coach for case studies and testimonials from past clients – Do not be shy about asking the coach to provide you with case studies and testimonials from both past and current clients, especially ones that are relevant to you.
- Ask the prospective coaches for a reference list of clients you may contact – Make sure that the prospective coach provides you with a list of references to call. It is very important to hear it from the horse’s mouth – the clients. After all, it is what they say that counts the most. “Tell me who your clients are, and I will tell you what kind of a coach you are.”
- Ask the coach why he or she sees you as a potential client – In your interview process; make sure that you inquire into why they see you as a potential client. Remember, you are in control. After all, you are the one that will be writing the check! Have them enroll you; let them do the work
- Evaluate the coach’s capability and track record, not his or her personality – In the interview process, make sure you are focusing on their accomplishments and successes, and not so much on their personality and if you like them or not. You do not have to like the coach; you do need to respect who they are and what they provide.
- Ask the coach how they will measure a successful coaching engagement – A coaching relationship is successful only if there is an increase in specific and measurable results. You want to know how the coach will measure their impact on your business or career. Anything can be measured, whether it is qualitative and quantitative. Do not be fooled by any other answer.
- Find out what process or methodology they are using – In today’s business world there are so many professionals who claim to be coaches. Find out what process they are using and determine if it will work for you. Find out the time structure, the session format and how much time and work it will take on your part. We say that the best client is an educated client.
- Ask for a sample coaching session – It will help you get a feel for their style and how they work with clients. Coaching is a very intimate and personal relationship. Ask them to “test drive it before you buy it”. If they are confident in their service, they will do it.
Does a management or executive coach HAVE to have experience being a leader? – We say so, but we are willing to include many other professional experiences – it’s a kind of leadership in and of itself. That said, if I were a leader looking for a coach, I would not select one who had not been in my shoes?
Does a coach need to be certified? – No necessary. In fact, we think the certification process often is misleading. We know many certified people who are great coaches, but I say, they are great to begin with, not because of, the certification process.
Each and every high performer can benefit from coaching and should defiantly have one. If you are looking for an extra edge and objective attention and feedback, invest in yourself and your business and hire a great coach. Base your selection on style, the coach’s areas of emphasis, and references.
The coaching schools and various other organizations are producing way too many people who are trained to help you “find yourself”. This sort of fuzzy coaching is needed, but not in an environment of high performance.
Most leaders we had worked with needed help being more effective results-producing machines who can also build their organization’s capacity and culture. Getting the job done – that’s an important focus and skill set. And, by the way, they will learn a few important things about themselves in the process of producing off the chart results!
The ultimate question to ask yourself is: