How To Select A Life Coach


It’s important to select the right coach to help you grow personally just as it is to help you grow your business.One challenge professional coaching faces is the large number of people jumping on the bandwagon and calling themselves coaches without formal training or relevant experience.

Here are some suggestions to help you choose a great coach:

  • Does the coach have a good reputation? It doesn’t matter much what someone says about themselves. The real question is “What do others say about them?”  Look for testimonials and get real referrals. Most coaches will post a client list or testimonials on their website so you can see what their clients think. Beware of anonymous testimonials; make sure the people have actually been coached by the coach because some people give references of friends or people that they have worked with in some unrelated manner.

Ask for names and numbers of clients to contact, to validate the coach’s work. Call them. Ask specific questions such as:

  • What was it like to be coached by this person?
  • Did they help you achieve your goals?
  • Would you hire this coach again?
  • Evaluate their credentials. A business coach should have some formal training. Make sure they are qualified to do the job as anyone can say that they are a coach.

Other questions:

  • Is the coach part of any organizations?
  • Does the coach publish books or articles?
  • Does the coach offer products and services in addition to coaching?

But don’t take degrees and certifications at face value. They tell you nothing about the quality of the coaching.

  • Talk to several life or business coaches and find one you have a rapport with. Does the coach listen well? Do you feel they clearly understand what you want to achieve through coaching? Make sure you fit with your coach; trust your instincts when deciding whether or not the coach truly understands who you are and what you need. You may want:
    • A coach who’s direct and will act as a constant “swift kick in the behind” or
    • A coach who provides advice and talks about their experiences, or
    • A coach who listens and asks you questions to teach you to pull the answers from inside yourself.

Ultimately, you will want a coach who you respect, with whom you have great rapport, who you would trust with certain details of your life as well as your observations, who will not judge you, who is respected in the business community and you feel you can trust.

  • If someone is lacking in credentials and experience, then you must choose someone that is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and is therefore governed by professional practice and ethics guidelines. This is important when dealing with a ‘new coach starting out. The ICF is the governing body of professional coaches. Ensure your coach has completed advanced training, and become certified, at one or more ICF accredited schools. There are hundreds of coaching schools popping up. Some of these are good, many are not. Certification is very important because life coaching is a profession that requires very specific skills, standards of conduct and a solid foundation of training that is only taught in qualified schools. Steer clear of anyone who is not accredited or does not have substantial professional/business experience. You can’t afford to be a guinea pig for a new coach setting up their “new business”.
  • What kind of experience do they have? Choose a coach that has sufficient experience. How long have they been coaching? Do they do it on a full time or part time basis? And if you are looking for specific help on various career or business agendas, make sure your coach has the relevant business background and expertise.
  • Evaluate how they work with clients. Many organisational consultants direct you toward answers without involving you in the solution. That’s not coaching. A skilled coach will engage you in dialogue, give you a new perspective on an issue and ultimately let you decide what’s best.

The coach’s role is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources and creativity that you already have. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customise their approach to meet your needs. Coaches will elicit solutions from their clients; but a skilled coach also knows when to jump in and provide direction when you get off track.

  • Make sure you coach spells out what services are offered, and what the total cost of those services will be. Also, what sort of commitment does the coach ask for? Some coaches ask for a commitment of 3 months or more, but stay away from long-term-pay-in-advance contracts. Check if the coach provides a free hour of consultation without commitment. This would assist you in determining if you can work with him or her. The coach should also be able to provide a range of coaching/training options that will suit your needs.

Coaching fees vary dramatically. Whatever the fee structure, make sure it fits into your budget and expectations. Ask for money-back or other performance or results based guarantees. Just like any other product or service, you often get what you pay for. The advice you receive should be valuable enough to pay for itself many times over. If you enter into a coaching relationship and things don’t start off on the right foot, make sure you have a discussion to set things straight or terminate.

Life coaching is a service thousands have used to achieve results in their career, improve relationships and get the most out of life. Despite the potential benefits that come from committing to the process, hiring a life coach is challenging.

How do you know you’re hiring someone with the skills and ability to guide you to your desired outcome? Here are a few things you should consider when selecting a life coach.

  • Where do you want results in your life?

If you are focused on professional advancement or growing your business, you should look for someone who specialises in coaching business professionals and executives. If you’re looking for results in your personal life you should consider someone with in depth qualifications in that area. Most think that because personal and business matters overlap, they will eventually use a life coach to gain perspective in both areas. That is a big mistake. There are very few coaches who have the experience and expertise to deal with the multiple dimensions of life and business. To meet specific needs, you can select from: Pastoral coaches, mindfulness coaches, financial coaches and health coaches. If you have a narrowly focused agenda you may consider searching for someone with a focused specialty and approach.

  • How is life coaching different than therapy?

Many coaching clients are surprised at how helpful coaching is and how it leads to results. One client was initially reluctant to engage in the process. Later admitting, at first, “I couldn’t see how it would be different than talking to my best friend or my therapist. She’s a great listener and always makes me feel better when I talk to her.” Therein lies the fundamental difference between coaching and therapy. A coach is trained to helping you arrive at your own solutions and who is not afraid to push you on crucial and uncomfortable topics rather than trying to make you feel better, sometimes the truth hurts and life/business is unfair. You need to choose a coach who will hold you to your commitments.

  • What qualifications you should look for in a life coach?

Anyone can call themselves a life coach. There is no academic requirement necessary and no licensing board that regulates the practice of life coaching. However, there are training programs for both life and business coaching. Someone who practices coaching for a living should have completed a life coaching or business coaching training program.

Qualifications for coaches run the spectrum. Some coaches cling to the notion that, “learning from the school of hard knocks” qualifies them to provide others with guidance. Other coaches have graduate degrees from high level universities. As stated earlier – the onus is on you to make the best decision based on facts and your gut feeling. You are going to pay this person with your hard earned money, invest it wisely.

  • Do you feel comfortable with the life coach?

A skilled life coach can help you solve personal and professional problems without leaving you feeling judged or discouraged. It’s important to speak with a potential coach to get a feel for how likely you are to open up to them and be yourself.

  • How available is your coach?

While most life coaching takes place over the phone, some coaches are strict about appointment times and others are more flexible. How about email, texting and video conferencing? What if you prefer to meet with your coach in person? Is your coach able to offer you a program that works for you? Some clients want a regularly scheduled appointment and others prefer the occasional text that reminds them to take care of what’s most important.

  • What kind of results should you expect?

Most people who seriously engage in a relationship with a life coach find significant increases in income. Others find results in less tangible ways such as, reducing drama in their life or facing what seems like insurmountable challenges and following through with a plan that leads to success.

If you are considering hiring a life coach apply these suggestions to your search. Consider what you want and the kind of results you are looking to achieve. Find a coach who is well qualified and who you feel comfortable talking with. If all the factors add up, go ahead and commit to at least one month of work with them. While it generally takes 3 months to experience the fruits of your labor, you will have a better sense of how well the process is going once you get started.


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