So you’re thinking about getting a coach? Great! But here’s what you need to ask yourself first…


Hey everyone, Stephen here 😊

A few weeks ago an enquiry popped into my inbox from someone looking for a coach. After a couple of quick exchanges, it became clear that they’d benefit from a coach with a different expertise than me – what they were looking for and what I specialise in were different things – we weren’t the right fit for each other. 

However, if you’re not familiar with the coaching landscape, how do you know what to look for? It struck me that although there are a huge amount of coaches out there to choose from, there’s not a lot of guidance in picking the right coach for you. So, what are the questions to ask yourself? And how do you find a coach that is the right fit for you? Let’s dive in and explore how to choose a coach effectively…

How to choose a coach

Why Coaching? What Benefits Are You Seeking?

The first question you should ask yourself is what you want to achieve from coaching. What are you hoping it will help you with? Coaching can be a real game-changer, but it’s important to be clear on what ‘success’ (or improvement) looks like for you.

Here are some personal and professional benefits that coaching can help with (backed by research!):

  • Level up your self-development: Want to finally smash those personal goals and become the best version of yourself? Coaching can provide the structure, support and accountability you need. 
  • Boost your efficiency: Feeling overwhelmed and like you’re never getting anything done? A coach can help you identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to work smarter, not harder. 
  • Take your career to the next level: Getting frustrated by work? Coaching can equip you with the skills and confidence to navigate your career path and achieve your professional goals.
  • Gain a fresh perspective: Sometimes we all get stuck in our own heads. A good coach can challenge your thinking and offer valuable insights you might have missed. 
  • Stay on track: Anyone who’s had a New Year’s Resolution knows that sticking with goals can be tough. A coach can be your accountability partner, keeping you motivated and focused on achieving what you set out to do. 

These are just some of the benefits coaching can offer. But to get the most out of it, you need to be clear on what YOU want to achieve.

What Specifically Do You Want to Work On?

So, what’s the area in your life that you think could benefit from coaching? Have you got your eye on a promotion, or think you might want a career pivot? Are you struggling with work-life balance and feeling a bit overwhelmed? Or do you simply want to boost your confidence and communication?

Having a clear understanding of your goals will not only help you choose the right coach, but it will also make the coaching process itself more effective.

SidenoteAlthough considered a ‘life coach’ my area of expertise is personal and professional development. There are some fantastic coaches out there who can help with many other aspects of life: business, exercise, nutrition, well-being, career, sports… and many, many more. Once you know what you want to work on it’s a great idea to search for that type of coach.

The following, however, should be considerations for any type of coach you’re looking for.

Finding the Perfect Fit: How to Choose a Coach

Once you know what you want to achieve, it’s time to find your coaching soulmate! (it’s quite useful to think of coaching like dating – you both want to get on with each other and be able to build trust for it to be successful).

I genuinely believe that coaching can be a benefit for everyone, however, not every coach will benefit everyone. We all have specific styles, approaches and strengths, so considering fit is important. 

There are a few key things to consider:

🧑‍🏫 Qualifications and Experience

The coaching landscape is like the wild-west, anyone can call themselves a coach without any previous experience, qualifications or expertise in a particular field. So, it’s really important to look for coaches with relevant training and experience, especially if your goals are specific like we’ve discussed before (e.g., career vs. life coaching). 

Certifications from places like the International Coaching Federation (ICF), the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) or the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) are a good starting point, as well as other relevant qualifications and experience that meet your needs. Check out my qualifications here.

👌 Coaching Style

Do you prefer a coach who takes a more directive approach or one who works collaboratively with you? Are you looking for someone to challenge you, or wanting someone to give you space to reflect and learn? Make sure their style aligns with your preferences and learning style (if you’ve never had coaching before you may not know this, so check in with your coach and ask to try things out).

🧪 Chemistry

This is crucial! You’ll be sharing some personal stuff with your coach, so feeling comfortable and having a good rapport is essential. Most coaches offer a free introductory call, so use this opportunity to see if you click.

📌 Logistics

Consider your schedule and preferences. Do you prefer in-person coaching or online sessions? Coaching online offers flexibility but might take longer to build rapport. In-person coaching can be more personal but might be tricky to arrange geographically.

For example, I prefer coaching in person, usually in cafes which means my client and I can sit down, relax have a chat and a cuppa (and sometimes cake…) and take a break from screens.

Normally at the beginning, you’ll be doing weekly or fortnightly coaching sessions, so think about what your schedule will be able to support when considering a coach.

🚩Red Flags

Be wary of coaches who make big claims without evidence and never feel pressured to sign up immediately with a coach. It’s perfectly acceptable to take some time to consider your options and talk to a few coaches before choosing who to go with. Coaching is a big investment in yourself, so make sure you take the time to feel happy about your decision. 

Remember, the “best” coach is the one who’s the best fit for YOU. Don’t be afraid to shop around and interview a few different coaches before making a decision.

How to Choose a Coach – Conclusion

If you’re feeling pumped about the possibility of coaching, great! I’ve found it to be such a game-changer in my life and I know many of my clients have found it really useful as well. 

Hopefully, now you’re a bit more equipped to explore the Wild West of Coaches out there! I hope you find my ‘How to Choose a Coach’ guide useful, comment below or connect with me (LinkedIn, Twitter) if you have any further questions about this topic! 

See you soon,

Stephen


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