“John F. Kennedy once said, ‘The only reason to give a speech is to change the world.’ It’s actually the only reason to have a powerful conversation with anyone. Fearless coaching means every time you coach, you change the world.”
In order to earn my Ph.D. in human resource development, I attended school for about 100 years (give or take 😉 ). So why, a few years after that, would I head back to the classroom?
COACHING is why.
I first learned of coaching while writing my dissertation. As I interviewed Fortune 500 companies about their mentoring programs, I kept hearing snippets about coaching as well. The topic was new to me, but a seed was definitely planted.
Then, a couple of years into my professional development business, I was drawn to coaching as a way to bridge the gap between the trainings I offered and the ongoing, forward-moving growth many of my students were seeking.
From Day 1 of my coach training, I felt like I had come home. I knew with 100% certainty that coaching filled that missing link for me.
Fast-forward a decade or so and I still feel that way! I’ve intentionally evolved my business to focus mostly on coaching and have never looked back. If you’ve thought about hiring a coach, you may have many questions circling your mind. Here are five that I am often asked from potential clients:
1. I should be able to figure things out on my own. Does hiring a coach signify weakness?
The exact opposite is true, actually. Look at the best athletes, performers, and business leaders – they have coaches. Click here to see what Bill Gates and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt think about this, for example.
Masters of their craft do not get there alone, nor do they presume to know everything; we all benefit from the objectivity, resources, perspective, experience, and even ‘tough love’ that coaches provide. I am successful as a coach when my clients succeed, and there’s nothing quite like having someone 100% invested in your success!
2. What are the best qualities to look for in a coach?
Everyone is different, and no one-size-fits-all criteria exists. I do, however, encourage you to ask a couple of important questions:
What is their experience? Don’t be afraid to ask your potential coach as many questions as you need to feel confident they are right for you. How long have they been coaching? Have they coached people with similar goals and/or challenges as you? Can they give examples of outcomes (protecting confidentiality, of course)? Coaching is a significant investment of time, money, and energy. Ask whatever helps you make a strong decision.
What is their training? The International Coach Federation (ICF) serves as the guiding professional association in coaching, and I suggest working with a coach who has attended an ICF-accredited program for a number of reasons: ICF-credentialed coaches are bound by high ethical guidelines, have been trained extensively in order to obtain certification (including having their coaching critiqued and working with mentor coaches), and have rigorous continuing education requirements so you can trust that they are always growing and advancing their skills as well.
How do you feel? It may sound unscientific, but ultimately a strong rapport plays a key role, so listen to your intuition. As this point in my career I can typically tell within a few minutes of conversation whether or not a potential client and I will work well together, and I am happy to refer when that rapport is not there or their needs fall outside my areas of expertise.
3. How do I know if I actually need a coach?
Aside from my belief that everyone (including coaches!) needs a coach, give some thought to what you want to gain from coaching. Do you have an idea, goal, or dream that you keep putting off and want someone to hold you accountable? Do you feel stuck in some aspect of your work or life and want to experience a breakthrough? Do you need to build your mindset, strengthen your confidence, or develop your skills in order to reach your next pinnacle of success? Many of my clients have obtained a level of leadership where they now need an independent, objective thought partner to bounce ideas off of, brainstorm solutions, and discuss best practices. Does that sound like you?
Whether you have no clue what steps to take, know what to do but aren’t doing it, or feel at the top of your game and want to maintain that, coaching can help.
4. Coaching is a big investment. How do I know it’s worth it?
Search the literature and you’ll find numerous studies demonstrating the consistently high return on investment of coaching. Typically when I’m asked this question, however, it’s not so much the general success rate people are looking for as it is, “How will I know coaching will help me (or my employee)?”
As part of my response, I return the question to my potential clients, because that’s where their best insights will come from. For example, most clients enroll in a 6-month coaching program with me, so I might ask: Six months from now, what will make you look back and say, ‘Yes, coaching was definitely worth it!’? What will be different then compared to now? What is it costing you to not solve this problem or to not move this goal forward?
Ask yourself similar questions and I bet you’ll sense its worth.
Coaching definitely is an investment in yourself, your growth, your potential. Value yourself and the ‘you’ you’d like to become, and hire the highest quality coach you possibly can. I’ve written checks to my coaches that have made me gasp and, though it can be frightening to invest in oneself so significantly, I have never regretted it.
5. Am I ready for coaching?
I have a friend who routinely cleans her house the day before the housekeeper she hired comes. When I asked her why, she said she doesn’t want the housekeeper to see the ‘true’ mess. Can you relate?
As a certified coach, I am perfectly o.k. seeing things as they are – seeing you as you are. No judgment, no comparison.
To be perfectly honest, as long as you are open to growth, transformation, and new ways of operating, you are ready for coaching. You don’t have to have everything figured out or all your ducks in a row before you hire a coach. Instead, you can enjoy that as part of the coaching process!
I agree 100% with Chandler & Litvin’s quote that I opened this article with: Coaching changes individuals, organizations, communities, and the world, and I am so honored to walk with my clients and to be a part of this profession. Coaches, thank you for the important work you do in the world. Clients, thank you for your commitment to growth and striving to be the highest, most purposeful version of yourself that you possibly can – which also changes the world.
Happy International Coaching Week!
What questions do you still have about coaching? Send them my way and I’ll be happy to write a Part 2 to this blog!