Choosing a Coach

You’ve decided to get coached.
Great, but how do you find the best coach for you?

There is no professional coaching license which regulates competency and identifies persons who are skilled and educated to coach you. A reference from someone you trust might be great,  but check him or her out for your own needs as well. If you don’t know anyone who has received coaching on your type of goals, how do you pick your coach?

Background of Life Coaching

To understand “life coaching”, consider its history. Except in sports, being a ‘coach’ was not widely recognized as a distinct occupation or job title until about the last ten years. Today, nearly anyone can hang out a “coaching shingle” and many people are talented at “coaching” without any training or calling themselves a “coach”. Too many hitch a ride on the “coaching bandwagon” and call themselves coaches without talent or training. So buyer beware.

As a SKILL SET, however, ‘life coaching’ (commonly referred to as personal or business coaching) has been practiced for decades within certain professions — especially business, education, and mental health. Many consider mentoring to be a form of coaching.

The professional fields of business, mental health, education, and other career areas have commonly utilized coaching as a method to guide and support others toward goals and success in life. The knowledge and skills for masterful coaching have long been part of these graduate and undergraduate degree programs—but not necessarily labeled ‘coaching’.  As a result, professionals who offer effective ‘coaching’ are often found within the ranks of these three professions (and others) and not exclusively among others (who may or not be trained or skilled) yet  who identify themselves specifically as ‘coaches’.

Confusing? Yes.

Are Coaching Specific Credentials Important?

Be a knowledgeable consumer as you weigh the merits of coaching from someone whose only credential  is a ‘coaching certificate’ or  a ‘certified coach’ credential with a capital letter acronym (Fictitious Example: Jayne Smythe, Master Certified Quality Coach—MCQC).  Today a number of academic institutions do offer coach specific training. Be sure to look behind the certificate and the letters (of coach credentials) to determine the source of the training while also evaluating other professional credentials/education/experience. Here’s why.

Nearly everyone who can afford to enroll and chooses to complete a non-academic certificate programs will end up with a coaching certificate or certification. And those non-academic credit coach training programs usually have no prerequisites for acceptance. Many are online.  The quality, oversight, and guidance for the non-academic coach training varies.

Without the required standards as in academia, the ‘coaching credential’ may not be an  indicator of knowledge quality, experience, skill, or competence of the ‘trained’ coach. This can apply even to a portion of  the better known programs “accredited” by national or international organizations based outside of academic institutions.

These coach training certificates/certification have limited and uncertain value as an important criteria for coach selection. In other words, avoid selecting your coach mainly because he or she has a coaching certificate or certification. Check further before investing your trust, time, and money.

What Qualities and Credentials are the Most Important in a Coach?

  1. Length and Nature of Experience
  2. Types of Academic Degrees, Professional Licenses, and quality-based certificates
  3. How the Coach’s Experience and Education Relate to Your Goals (Is a Subject Matter Expert or SME important for you?)
  4. Whether the Fees Charged Align with Experience and Education of the Coach
  5. The Coach’s Self: You have a Gut  Sense of ‘Fit’ with him/her
  6. Professionalism: Maintains Professional Liability Insurance and is bound to a Code of Ethics by either a Professional License or Professional Certificate or Professional Membership. THIS IS VERY  IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT PROVIDES YOU WITH AN EXTERNAL INDICATOR OF THE COACH’S SENSE OF INTEGRITY AND COMMITMENT.

Bottom Line

Consider all of the information above and apply these 6 criteria to select a coach who will assist you to reach maximum coaching benefits and achieve your goals more quickly than you would on your own.

Be sure to research ANY coach FULLY before you choose.