The choice of your coach is as important as the decision to be coached. Working with the right coach can be life and career affirming. The wrong choice could have the opposite effect.
The fact is that coaching is not a regulated industry and so anyone can call themselves a coach, and many do. Not all people that call themselves coaches have the skills, attitude, training and experience to be competent or successful coaches. It makes sense to choose wisely.
Being coached is unlike almost every other intervention in our lives. In my experience it is incredibly intimate. To be effective the coachee has to be prepared to be totally open with their coach. Anything less will jeopardise the effectiveness of the coaching taking place.
Therefore fit is incredibly important. Choose a coach who respects who you are and who can see the very best in you. Someone who you can wholeheartedly trust and who you can respect in return; someone you can share your inner thoughts with.
However the primary goal of coaching is to eliminate the internal obstacles to performance, learning and enjoyment. It is not about renting a friend. Business coaching in particular has to deliver measurable results. To deliver an effective process your coach has to have the courage to trade in the truth with you, to never allow you to get away with anything other than your best efforts, and yet to care for you as much as for the results that you seek. So the courage to challenge you are also qualities to look for. There are many flabby coaches out there.
I believe that a good coach is a good coach regardless of field of endeavour, but in order to be able to really understand the coachee’s world it would be a strong benefit if the coach has good experience of that world. I know I could coach an elite athlete, for example, but as I have no experience of that world some of the gaps in my experience would be a detriment that client. There are other coaches who could do a much better job because they have personal experience of that world. Master coach Julio Olalla has said, “Those experiences where life brings us to our knees help to forge us as coaches able to truly meet and hold our clients in their dark moments”. I have no experience of competing as an elite athlete but I have years of experience owning and leading businesses, so I choose my field carefully.
My favourite definition of a coach is “An unreasonable, yet compassionate friend”. Someone who is on your side, has your back, who will not let you fall, while at the same time will never let you get away with anything other than your best. That is a hard paradox to ride. Be sure to choose someone who can do that.