It’s the beginning of the year and I’ve been getting all kinds of requests to speak with people who are interested in getting a coach. If you’ve had that thought but aren’t sure what coaching is, what to expect, or how to choose the right coach for you, here are some of the basics:
What coaching is (and isn’t):
Coaching is a partnership between a coach and a client in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires the client to maximize their personal and professional potential. In other words, coaches help their clients channel powerful insights into concrete action.
Coaching isn’t therapy. It’s shorter-term, goal-oriented, forward-thinking. It deals less with “why” and more with “what are you going to do about it.”
Coaching isn’t consulting. A coach does NOT have to have subject area expertise in your field. We’re not expected to have the answers; we’re expected to ask powerful questions.
Coaching is also different than mentoring. Mentors have many years of experience in your field and can guide you, sometimes by sharing their wisdom and sometimes by asking questions to let you figure things out on your own.
What does a coaching program actually look like?
After getting to know each other, you’ll do some long-term visioning to set your “north star.” Then you’ll work backwards from there to set a big-picture goal for the coaching program (what do you want to achieve by the time we’re done) followed by more specific SMART goals for how you’ll make it happen, step by step. Then in each session you’ll focus on each SMART goal, ticking them off as you accomplish them. You’ll learn something new about yourself in each session and translate that insight into actionable steps toward your goal for the week.
How much time should you devote in between sessions? What you put in is what you’ll get out. People who expect to show up once a week and don’t make any effort in between will surely be disappointed with the results. Those who put in the work and show up at our meetings prepared with updates, wins to celebrate, and roadblocks to unpack… they’ll create profound movement.
How to find a coach who’s a good fit for you:
Like in other helping professions, some coaches are generalists and some are specialists. Most coaches started out in another career, so they might have niches or offer overlapping services. For example, my niche is leadership and communications. That means that clients come to me when they’re actively stretching beyond their current leadership comfort zone – they might be starting or seeking a new leadership challenge, or they’ve recently been promoted, or they’ve been given feedback in a 360 that they need to work on their presentation or interpersonal communication skills. Because I have a background in public speaking training, I offer my clients a hybrid experience of coaching and training, so some sessions will involve actually prepping for an important meeting or presentation or simulating a difficult conversation. On all other topics, I stick to asking powerful, encouraging, and non-judgmental questions.
If you want to know what kind of niche or specialty a coach has, just ask. Ask where they studied, what school of thought or methodology they follow. Ask about the kinds of challenges people often bring to discuss, what excites them the most. Don’t shy away from probing. With all the coaches out there, you should feel that you’re choosing the person who’s the right fit for you.
Yes, personal style is an important factor. At the end of the day, you have to feel comfortable with the person. In a profound coaching program, you’ll be sharing your biggest dreams and deepest fears. This person will be walking alongside you to celebrate your accomplishments and comfort you through failures and setbacks. So getting along matters.
Do you have other questions about what coaching is or how to find a coach? Please feel free to reach out. I’d love to hear from you!