Will you catch me if I fall? Advice on choosing a coach.
Hi, I'm Pete Mosley. I'm a coach, speaker and author of The Art of Shouting Quietly – a guide to self-promotion for introverts and other quiet souls. Extrovert or introvert, quiet or loud, confidence can be an issue for all of us. This post explores a few key points to think about when choosing a coach.
If you are thinking of working with a coach, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Where do you begin?
Asking around amongst the people you know - friends and colleagues - can often be a good start. People love making recommendations, but choosing a coach isn't quite as straightforward as picking a plumber. Yes, you need someone with all the right qualifications and experience - but you are setting up a close working relationship with someone - and it's the quality of that relationship in the end, not their qualifications alone, that will determine whether your coaching really works for you. Take your time.
A balance of head and heart.
If you don't know anyone who can point you in the right direction a 'directory' of coaches can help. There are a few good ones around. Or you can use the power of Linked In to get suggestions flowing your way. However, you have found your way here - and this is a cracking place to start. The big bonus is that all the coaches on here are writing and talking openly about their craft - you have a chance to get a sense of the person behind the 'coach' label - we are all different, and you may find you start to gravitate towards some of us and not others. That gravitational pull is essential - it means you are starting to get a feel of what sort of coach might suit you.
The chemistry has to be right. In other words, it needs to be a relationship that 'feels' right - where there is mutual trust, respect and a sense of being at ease in each other's company. This is why the initial conversations with your 'shortlist' are so important.
We tend to work best when the relationship is based on a shared worldview or value system. I find that people who see themselves as quiet, thoughtful, driven by a sense of fairness and purpose or who might be creative in some way often find their way towards me - why? - Because I write and speak a lot about those things and my values 'leak' out into the world - and we are drawn towards those who connect with our core values. What values might you be looking for in a prospective coach? It's an excellent question to ask in an initial conversation.
Must my coach have specialist sector knowledge?
A well trained and experienced coach should be able to coach anyone. Remember, it's the quality of the relationship that underpins the success of the coaching. And sometimes it can be really refreshing to work with someone who's not imbued with your own working culture and norms. However, sometimes it really helps if your coach does understand the basics of investment banking, or marine biology, or life as an author. Find a person you think you can work with, then explore the pro's and con's of this thoroughly.
Creativity and Playfulness
Some coaches will encourage you to couple the coaching to your innate talents and interests. Do you like the outdoors? Some coaches encourage walking and talking - which can be amazingly effective. Do you like working with line and colour? Find someone who will help you bring your thinking and creative imaging together. Are you a natural writer? Most coaches will encourage journalling as a way of helping the thinking and reflection flow. It's not all about those 'killer' coaching questions - it's about using thinking and creativity to help you imagine how your life might be lived differently.
Trusting that you have the right coach makes it much easier to cope with the challenging nature of coaching. You know that the coach has your best interests at heart. It's not about giving you solutions or telling you what to do - it's about helping you become the best informed and best-resourced person you can be - so you can step up and make your own great decisions about what comes next. The right coach will be a champion for you.
Set up some calls.
Above all, don't be scared to send a few emails or make a few calls. You'll get a feel for each coach you talk to within minutes. The conversation should be open and friendly and should acknowledge and explore the fact that the relationship has got to work both ways. If anything feels odd or out of synch - it probably is! Coaches are friendly, thoughtful people who will ask you great questions. The answers you come up with will help you make the right choice.
Please feel free to check my profile or get in touch.
Author, The Art of Shouting Quietly