Beware! In 2014 anyone with two hands and 100 bucks can call themselves a coach! Coaching is the new buzzword that is flooding social media with a lot of people who are great SALESPEOPLE but not practiced or studied coaches. I don’t care how passionate you are about a topic, this doesn’t make someone a coach. I’m pretty adamant about this because myself and my fellow colleagues have worked very hard to be the coaches we are today. Trying to preserve a profession amongst a lot of bells and whistles is very important to me.
Coaching is a skill that must be honed by credible teachers, mentors, literature, and study. When looking for a coach I always tell people to ask where the coach studied to be a coach or what certifications they have. When I knew I wanted to be a coach, I was intent on learning it as a skill. If you are also thinking of becoming a coach, I also highly recommend that you get adequately trained. People are not dollar signs – they are real people with real lives. To coach someone is to say YES to possessing a certain skill set of listening, questioning, critical thinking, accessing emotional intelligence, and using careful intuition. Here are a few things to remember:
1. WHERE DID YOU STUDY? A practiced legitimate coach will have attended a credible coaching certification program, and will have some sort of certification (preferably with organizations similar to the ICF which requires 100 hours of training at a basic certification level, mentor coaching, and an oral exam). In the NY/NJ area, NYU and Columbia have reputable coaching certificate programs that require deep study, practice, and that are research based. They may also have a graduate degree in a related field, or if they are coaching in a specific field of business may have a business related degree.
2. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COACHING? Any respectable coach training program requires coaching students to have pro-bono or even paid clients. This means they get good practice, and in the first year or two they are taking clients at a “new coach” rate. For a person to be charging over a $100 price range for a session they should be coaching at least 2, if not 3 years.
3. DID YOU HAVE A MENTOR COACH? This is essential. Coaching is a relatively new profession and any good coach has been mentored by someone who is far more experienced. I’ve had the privilege of having a highly skilled mentor coach, Paulette Rao, MCC, CEO of True North Resources since 2008. Paulette was my instructor at NYU in their coaching certification program and also runs a thriving coaching business. She has a plethora of corporate and educational experience coupled with a vast client base. A practiced coach has been mentored. Period.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR!
1. PRETTY WEBSITES & MARKETING MATERIALS: This is good marketing, NOT good coaching. You should also ALWAYS be given a free introductory session to see if you and the coach are a match and to test drive their skills.
2. A BOOK: It’s 2014 – anyone can self-publish these days. A book does not make someone an author or a good coach, it means someone has a book.
3. FAME: Even semi-famous people doing the media circuit are STILL NOT guaranteed to be good coaches. You still want to ask about their credentials, education, and work history.
Bottom line: read the fine print, and be a healthy skeptic when it comes to hiring a coach. There are unfortunately a LOT of flashy lights and great marketing campaigns that cover up someone who is not a skilled and practiced coach. Do your homework, and before you put your LIFE, BUSINESS, or CAREER in the hands of someone, make sure they can deliver the goods!