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Finding the RIGHT Coach

I had a wonderful opportunity in 2012 to co-author the bestselling book “No Winner Ever Got There Without A Coach” with Dr. Pam Brill and David Rock (that’s me in the middle). Below are several question and an excerpt from the book – I hope this provides a bit more perspective on selecting the right coach for you.


What is the biggest hurdle your coaching clients typically have to overcome?

It all comes down to believing they need a coach, because both men and women tend to think we have to do it all by ourselves. The higher we climb in leadership, the more we have going on at home and the outside world. This is not just for my clients, it is also for organizations that hire external coaching or Organizational Development Consultants.


See if this sounds familiar: You are a leader who is running multi-level departments for organization X. You are also the CEO of your household. If you have a family (now you can add cook, housekeeper, the go-to person for boo–boo’s, sports coach, team parent, loving spouse, and pet caretaker). You have everything and anything going on at home as well as work. Now ask yourself: “How often do I take care of my needs and who is in my corner who is unbiased?” Face it, we just forget to take a little bit of “me time” and, most importantly, realize that it is okay to ask for help- and this is not gender exclusive as both men and women fall into this challenge.


Looking for a coach is like admitting you need a thinking partner and that you cannot do it all. Regardless of gender, the biggest hurdle is to believe you need a coach and that you do not have to do it alone—it’s okay to ask for some help. Overcome that hurdle and it is like a breath of fresh air for my clients.


The real work then begins—finding a coach who fits your needs and then creating the relationship that will work. Coaching is not a magic bullet and there are tons of coaches hitting the market every day. Although coaching is a relatively new field, there is still a lot of misinformation out there. Also remember that you get what you pay for.


What characteristics make a great coaching relationship for you and your clients successful?

Successful coaching relationships come down to just that—a good coaching relationship. There are thousands of great coaches out there, but trust me, there are only one or two who are good for you. It comes down to that personal relationship and style.


Most coaches provide a consultation before taking you on as a client. This is for both you and the coach to determine if there is a sound relationship. If this is not offered, move on. The co-creative relationship is sacred and it takes two people—you and the coach—to build.


When you go into the consultation, be prepared to ask questions. Trust me, as a coach I have my list ready because it is more than gaining one new client, it is a relationship and thus needs to work 100 percent for me, too.


Questions to ask your prospective coach:

Who is your ideal client?

It is imperative that the coach you select know his or her ideal clients or the kind of person they will only work with.

My answer is simple: I work with men and women who are very take-charge, they are open, honest, and not afraid of the tough questions or the tough action steps that we are going to discuss or put forth. They take accountability, and are willing to make mistakes. They are willing to take risks and understand the benefits of coaching, fully knowing it will take energy and time for success.

In understanding who I am and who I click with personality wise. I know right away if we will work well together when we have the initial consult.

Example: If the client immediately starts placing blame elsewhere, this is not going to be a client I am going to work with.


What is your coaching style?

The coach should also know their style of coaching.

My coaching style is a hybrid of coaching and mentoring. My approach is direct, clear and focused as I understands the need for results today verses a year from now. I am going to ask you think and work hard with questions that will make you uncomfortable. However, realize that being uncomfortable in a co-creative relationship allows for personal growth. I will never judge you. I am your strategic thinking partner concerned with all of your needs.


What are your credentials?

How long have they been a coach? Do they have a certification? Do they hold a degree? What is the background experience?


In what markets are your clients found?

Many do not think of this question; however if your market is small such as restaurants in Bedford New Hampshire, does your coach have a conflict of interest? It happens; I recently had to turn away two clients due to a conflict of interest as I was working with their direct supervisor.


Ask your potential coach for success examples. How does he or she see success? How would your potential coach address a situation you’re facing?

Below are questions you need to ask yourself when evaluating a coach after the initial consultation are:

· Can you be open and honest with your coach?

· Do you feel safe and not judged with that coach?

· Does that coach have enough credentialing behind him or her or enough academic learning to be able to be mentally stimulating as well as your thinking partner?

· Then putting that all together, do their personalities jive with yours?

If, in the end, something does not gel with who you are, move on. I could be the number one coach in the entire universe but not right for you. Again, it comes down to that personal connection, you just have click with your coach.


How do you know your clients have reached success?

It all comes down to what success for that client looks like. Coaching takes time and hard work to be successful, thus my clients need to understand the overall commitment they are making. Many of my new clients will ask the famous, “How will I know when we are done?” For the type of coaching I bring to the table, the answer is easy: We are done when you are happy both at work and at home. We are done when you feel you are successful and you have reached the goals you have set for yourself. My clients also need to understand that they set the agenda and what success looked like for those three months ago may actually be a symptom of a deeper goal.


Example: “Susan,” a current client, contracted with me to help her get to that next level of leadership within her organization. At the time, she was the assistant director of sales and marketing. The director position was going to open up in six months, and that was her initial goal in seeking Leadership Coaching. After the initial two sessions, we discovered that not only did she desire the advanced position, she was struggling with balancing her home life—most importantly, that being newly married. Her coaching was two-fold: we worked on her Leadership Emotional Intelligence Proficiency for work, specifically communication and time management. We also were able to create a plan to bring both those skills as well as others into the home relationship. This ensured that when Susan was home, her focus was also at home and vice versa.


So again, it comes firmly down to defining what your success goal is, what the final ultimate goal you want to achieve, then from there moving forward and being open to personal growth. Did Susan get the director position? Absolutely. Was that her success goal? No, that was her work goal. Her success goal was balancing a new relationship (with her husband) with work aspirations.

It is also worth noting that success changes, it is not constant. I have several clients who will contract with me for six months and then take a break, only to return when they need their thinking partner. My clients claim there is something comforting in knowing I will always be in their corner, regardless of the time lapse in coaching.



Whether coaching is for life issues, relationships, transitions, leadership issues, or business development, it all requires time and energy on the part of both client and the coach. You need to be honest with yourself first in defining what you need, then find the coach who is your perfect co-creative partner.

Once that is in place, the hard work begins. It is not uncommon to be in a coaching relationship for three to six months before results appear. That is one reason it is critical to find the right coach for you upfront. From coaching comes personal and business growth. It is fun, exciting, and scary at times; however, knowing you have your own thinking guru in your corner should grant you some piece of mind.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any and all questions - Best wishes to you all in your journey!

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