What qualities should you look for in a business coach?
The stakes seem high when you’re looking for the right coach, but a little trial and error is healthy. You want to understand your weaknesses, then find a relevant expert. We put too much pressure on ourselves to find a business coach, and it’s easier than you think.
Experience and Expertise
The Association for Talent Development says an executive coach “provides a safe, structured, and trustworthy environment in which to offer support for the individual. The coach also helps the leader understand their current competencies, see how they’re perceived by others, and focus on identifying and clarifying current goals as well as the appropriate action steps to reach those goals.”
In practice, that means mental breakthroughs and perspective changes that perpetually get you and your business “unstuck.”
If you’re more process-focused, the Wharton School lays a solid framework for assessing who makes a business coach. Look for folks who follow this model:
- Active experimentation (planning)
- Concrete experience (doing)
- Reflective observation (reviewing)
- Abstract conceptualization (concluding)
- More informed active experimentation
Be sure your shortlist includes coaches with the right education and track record, with certifications accredited by the International Coaching Federation. They should help you achieve clarity using one or all of these tactics. A business coach should earn his or her keep each month, so avoid entering into a long-term contract unless and until you see results.
Attitude and Accessibility
Part of looking for a business coach involves lots of research to find the right fit. Don’t overlook the value of doing your homework because it’ll make a difference in the quality of the coach you partner with—and consequently your personal growth from the relationship.
You have a handful of solid resources to find the right professionals who are credible and honest. You can:
- Ask your network of fellow business connections if they have a coach. You may just score a valuable introduction.
- Find a few (moderated) online forums of business owners and ask those groups.
- Google your way to CFO services that offer business coaching—cautiously. Demand for coaches has skyrocketed, giving way to fraudsters who collect thousands of dollars under the guise of being an “expert.”
Once you find a few potential suitors, dig a little deeper to determine if they can really support you.
- Are they readily accessible? You want to be able to sync up regularly without juggling scheduling due to time zone differences or even language barriers.
- Does this accessibility unlock more opportunities, such as helping you network and partner with other businesses?
Experience, Fit, and Willingness to Share
After you’ve collected a handful of potential coaches, it’s time to weed out the good from the bad. So, how do you know if a coach is going to be great?
They need to have a 360-degree track record.
Coaching is as much about helping other people succeed as it is helping themselves succeed. It helps if they’re part of a reputable system or company, such as the Tony Robbins Results Coaching program. There are a lot of high-value coaching companies out there!
Make sure your personality fits.
You shouldn’t be best friends, but there should be enough chemistry that it’s equally easy to hold you accountable to your goals and metrics and course correct. It also helps if your coach operates the way you do.
Prioritize working together over simple knowledge transfer.
A coach who just instructs versus journeying along with you imposes their own agenda. Can you put yourself in the executive kitchen with your master business chef? Create and consume all the firsthand learning you can together and up close.
You might go through three or four people until you find a business coach. And that doesn’t say anything bad about you or them. Similar to finding the right therapist, you just need to find someone you’re comfortable with to truly accept their direction and advice.