5 Tips For Selecting A Great Coach

A great coach can help you transform from a good leader into an exceptional one. Just look at all the benefits that materialize through coaching. Among other things, leaders report greater productivity, improved relationships, and increased self-confidence. But how do you find a great coach? How can you ensure that you don't end up with someone who leads you astray?

Selecting a great coach requires awareness, preparation and clear expectations. Just the other day I heard a potential client tell me about a previous coaching engagement that went bad because she didn't do her homework. Choosing a coach is not something you should jump into without some thought.

With that perspective in mind, I offer these five tips for selecting a great coach and increasing your chances of a successful coaching engagement:

1. Write an outcome statement - Clearly defining your outcome can help you select the right coach for you. It also sets the stage for you to work effectively with your coach. Write a 2-4 sentence paragraph that explains your outcome in detail. Ask yourself the following questions before writing:

  • What do you want from coaching? What else?
  • When you get that what will it give you?
  • What will you be doing when you get what you want?
  • Can I see a vivid picture or a movie of the end state?

2. List 2-3 goals - This is where you get even more specific. Now that you have the outcome in mind, list 2-3 goals for the coaching engagement. Do you want to improve your ability to stay calm under pressure? Do you want to get better at time management? Do you want to build better working relationships with your peers or team?
3. Learn about coaching - It is so important that you do your homework to understand what coaching is and isn't. There are a lot of other activities such as training, consulting, and mentoring that are similar to coaching but work differently. Before you select a coach you should understand what coaching is and what it isn't. Learn about coaching by visiting reputable sources like the International Coach Federation website or the Harvard Business Review website.
4. Interview 3 coaches - Even thought I would love the opportunity to work with a client, I always recommend that potential clients talk to other coaches. The power of coaching lies in the relationship between the coach and client - chemistry is very important. You should feel comfortable with your coach, find the person easy to talk to and trust the individual. If you don't think the coach is a good fit keep looking. There are a lot of excellent coaches out there to choose from.
5. Select your coach - When it comes time to select your coach think about two things: Comfort and Challenge. Remember that you are looking for a coach that will work well with you and help you reach your outcome. Coaching should be a positive experience but it is not only about making you feel good. The coach is going to have to challenge you along the way and hold you accountable. The question is do you trust that the coach will help you move toward your goals while keeping your best interests in mind.

So there you have it - five tips for selecting a great coach. Please pass this along to others who are thinking about working with a coach.

Questions: What other tips do you have for selecting a great coach? What other questions do you have about selecting a coach?