What to look for in a coach + how to know you’re ready to invest in one

It seems like everyone 1) has a coach or 2) IS a coach these days, am I right? That said, trying to find your coach, the one who can help you get to where you want to go, can be a overwhelming process.

Which is exactly why I want to help you figure out who these people are, how they can help (or not), criteria to consider in finding who is the best match for you, and how to find yours!

1. Are you looking for a coach or another kind of professional? Coaching is different from therapy, counseling, advising, mentoring or recruiting. Coaches believe you are the expert of yourself, not the other way around. Our job is to help you increase self-awareness, generate learning, recognize your capabilities, and accomplish meaningful goals. Our relationship with you is present and future focused. It’s also non-hierarchical, meaning we are equal partners in this journey.

This differs greatly from therapy and counseling, which are long-term processes highly focused on the past delivered by licensed healthcare professionals. (Note: therapy can pair well with coaching, especially if you have past traumas you are working through.)

Unlike advisors, coaches don’t give you the answers because we believe you already have them. While some coaches have subject area expertise, when we use it, we will be sure to say “hey, I’m putting my advisor hat on right now” so you know the difference.

Mentors tend be skilled in an area in which you want to grow, and counsel you on how they got there.  Coaches on the other hand will support you with finding a mentor, if that will advance your success.

Recruiters actively solicit individuals qualified for positions. Career and resume coaching may help you better present for a job opportunity, but we aren’t actively applying to roles for you.

 2. What kinds of things can a Coach help with? There are lots of ways coaches can help. To give you a flavor…

  • Defining your personal vision of success
  • Learning what motivates you and how to use it to your advantage
  • Identifying your strengths and how to tap into those superpowers
  • Creating a road map or plan for how you’re going to achieve your goals
  • Taking control of your time
  • Achieving financial independence
  • Starting a business or growing an existing one
  • Providing accountability and encouragement as you move forward
  • Being a sounding board for ideas and decision making

And all of these things, too:

  • Defining and respecting your personal and professional boundaries
  • Learning how to create “low-bar” goals so you want to set the bar higher
  • Sorting through:
    • self-imposed limitations
    • self-criticism
    • impostor syndrome
    • self-sabotage
    • perfectionist paralysis
    • fear of failure

3. How do you know you’re ready for coaching? Ask yourself this question: Is the pain to remain the same greater than the pain to change? It’s way more comfortable to stay in what we know. While you don’t have to be 100% ready – you have to be ready enough for change. That means you’re open to change and able to commit to do what you say you’re going to do. Coaching is an investment in your time, energy, money and emotions.  You’re ready to engage when you can look yourself in the eye and say “I’m ready enough for change.” Remember, you’re not alone – that’s why you have a Coach!

4. How do you know what kind of Coach you’re looking for? Google a problem you want solved and you’ll find a Coach that addresses it. Here’s the thing: having an expertise in a particular realm – doesn’t mean we can only coach you around that area. (Remember: our focus is to help you uncover your own expertise!) However, there are times you may be looking to gain proficiency in a specific area (like salary/rate negotiation) and really need to work with someone who gets it.

Something to know: any time a Coach is bringing their expertise into a session, they should differentiate between coaching you and advising you. Ask a Coach during your exploratory session how they can or will bring in their expertise (or not).

What’s an exploratory session? Most Coaches offer a free session (usually a call) as an opportunity for you to learn about each other, what their coaching style is like, and ask any questions you may have about coaching. My recommendation is to set these calls up with at least 2-3 coaches.

Questions to ask during the coaching exploratory:

  • Do you meet in-person or virtually? Psst…you open yourself up to so many more Coaches when you go the virtual route, not to mention saving time (and the stress) of commuting.
  • How do you structure coaching? Do you have a “coaching program” I will go through?
  • What kind of time commitment is this going to take? How often will we work together?
  • Is this one-on-one or group coaching?
  • How will I know what my homework is? What will I leave a session with?
  • What kind of support do you offer in-between sessions?
  • Where did you get your training? For example, I am certified by the International Coaching Federation and abide by their code of ethics. I also earned an Executive Coaching certificate.
  • What excites you about coaching? Any success stories to share?
  • How much does your coaching cost?

 5. How do you find a Coach?  If you don’t want to spend a ton of time on Google, here are a few good places to find a Coach:

– who is someone who has a life you aspire to? They may have received help from a Coach! Ask them.

– ask a friend or colleague if they’ve worked with someone they liked (This is most often how people find me!)

– if you’re an employee, ask if Human Resources can recommend someone

– ask your therapist if they have recommendations

International Coach Federation (ICF) directory or Thumbtack.com

– social media (I’m @coach_lins)

6. What’s your next step?

It’s not necessary to know exactly what you want to work on before you contact a Coach. To me, getting clear on what that something is can be part of the coaching process.

If you’re feeling that fire in your belly, capitalize on the momentum! Do some research and book exploratory sessions with a couple different Coaches.

My hope is you now have a better sense of what a Coach can do for you, what we offer, how to know what to look for, and where to find one.

And if I’m on your list, book an exploratory session with me here. I’m excited to meet you!