following article originally appeared in
Market Monthly: In Business for
Business in 1996.
Coaching: A Doorway to Innovation
professionals in every industry rely on coaches. Who is guiding you along
your path to success? Do you find that your company or industry is
changing so fast that you feel left behind? Are you daily activities so
demanding that is is hard to focus on where you are going? Is it
difficult to motivate yourself consistently enough to achieve all your
goals? Are your work relationships powerful in terms of
communication? Coaching is a tool that many professionals are turning to
for business success.
Coaching is a profession that provides individualized
consulting for people of all ages, in all industries and professions, and of
all positions within organizations. In the early 1980s, individual
business coaching was only available to high-level executives. In recent years
it has become increasingly popular with professionals seeking a competitive
edge over their colleagues and co-workers. Basically, coaching is executive,
professional, personal, or career development delivered on a one-to-one basis.
Coaching is a relationship that is based on commitment. It takes place in
person, on-line in cyberspace, or over the telephone. Usually it's one-on-one,
but occasionally there will be cause for a coach to work with two people at
once or groups.
VEHICLE FOR IMPROVEMENT
People who use coaches set goals for the outcomes they intend to achieve, and
use a coach to motivate them, to keep them on track with their goals, to keep
them focused, to inspire them to excel, to enhance their personal or
professional growth and development, and to provide partnership for their
ultimate success. Masterful coaches empower people to completely transform who
they are and to identify how past behaviors, thought systems, and ways of being
produced unintended results and consequences.
this knowledge, clients use the coaching relationship to fundamentally shift
their frames of reference; thereby producing winning results in the areas of
their lives that they targeted with their coach. A coach is a visionary, a
change agent, and a person who enables others to exceed past performances and
tackle their challenges with freedom, creativity, choice, and power. It is
continuous, individual, change-management consulting rather than a one-time
effort, quick fix, or training session.
as simple as one coaching call a week for thirty minutes can eliminate
procrastination, sharpen your focus, enhance your creativity, heighten your
effectiveness, and increase your power to achieve your goals.
in the business of making a difference with people by guiding them to make a
difference within themselves.
Something as simple as one
coaching call a week for thirty
minutes can eliminate
procrastination, sharpen your focus,
your effectiveness, and increase
your power to
achieve your goals.
SELECTING A COACH
Here is the tricky part. There
are many folks selling coaching services who are not trained, professional
coaches. Here are twelve tips for selecting the right coach for you:
#1. Ask the prospective coach about her philosophy of coaching.
A good coach will be able to express to you his or her values and core coaching
philosophy. It should include a commitment to integrity, service, partnership,
and a fundamental belief in fostering your independence. A coachs job is
to be fully committed to your commitments. He should be able to completely
align himself with your vision, and commit to doing whatever it will take to
have you narrow the gap between your vision and reality.
Ask for references and a list of clients. Make sure you contact a few
past clients and get the honest truth about the impact your prospective coach
had on their lives and in what domains. What types of executives,
entrepreneurs, and professionals has the coach worked with? Check out how long
it took, and what structure of coaching was involved. Make sure your coach has
a stable track record.
#3. Determine if the coachs
style is one that will support you. Is he a taskmaster, or a gentle nudge?
How rigorous is she? How supportive, nurturing, compassionate? Identify what
style of support you need in order to fulfill your goals. How clearly does the
coach articulate the objectives and outcomes of the process? Is he out to
create significant change in your job performance?
the coach provide practices, projects, and assignments for you, or will you
generate your own? What assessment methods will be used?
#5. What kind of accountability structure does the coach provide for
you? What format does she adhere to for helping you attain your goals? What
consequences (if any) are there for failing to fulfill a promise to your
#6. Change takes time. What does your coach
recommend as the average length of a contract? Three months is a healthy
minimum. You might question a coachs rationale for suggesting a coaching
contract in excess of one year -- projects usually do not require that much
coaching in order to be accomplished. Depending on what areas you want to be
coached, you might hire a coach to work with you daily for a month, weekly for
six months, or twice monthly for eight months. The coach should be willing to
customize a structure to match your needs. Ask how much time the coaching
process will take and which coaching methods will be used.
There are many techniques that are used by the well-trained coach.
Review these options with your prospective coach to determine what will
work best for you. Role-playing, simulations, written journal work, homework
assignments, games, charts, and other examples are worth investigating. Does
your coach custom design the client learning program, or does he rely on
pre-packaged material? In order to achieve lasting change, sophisticated
methods are necessary.
#8. Most coaches will not charge for
an initial consultation. You can engage a prospective coach in a brief
coaching session that will give you a taste of what she can do for you. If she
is unwilling to do this, take it as a clue that she is not interested in
working with you and may not be best suited to meet your business needs.
#9. Inquire into the coachs personal history and training
in coaching. Where did he learn to coach? How many disciplines does he
incorporate in his coaching? Coaching is a holistic, interactive, experiential
field. What does he know about adult learning and personal transformation? Find
out the credibility of the organization(s) that trained him. A coach need not
have a doctorate to be effective, but should have some behavioral training. The
best combination is a coach with graduate work in psychology, business,
organizational development, and/or education with special training and
certification as a coach and hands-on experience working within
#10. Coaching is a relationship-based
profession. The most important factor is whether or not you like that
person, feel comfortable working with her, trust her, and genuinely believe she
has something to offer you. The nature of the work coaches do is very personal,
so choose your coach carefully.
#11. Coaching affects
matters other than business. Coaching relationships often uncover personal,
vulnerable areas as the conversations weave through the domains of your life
and work. Your coach must assure you of the confidentiality of your
conversations. Trust is key. Coaches coach the whole person, and usually do not
separate the "work" you from the "real" you.
#12. How much
does coaching cost? Some coaches charge by the hour with a minimum deposit.
Others require up-front payment. Others bill their clients monthly. A six-month
engagement could run you anywhere between $750 to $5000. You can usually find
telephone coaching for as little as $25 a week to upwards of $250. Another
option is to have your employer pay for your coach.
a doorway to innovation and creative thought that empowers people in all
industries to exceed the limitations of what they currently consider to be
realistic and allows them to produce outstanding results. It is an
action-based, commitment-oriented partnership for excellence.
About the author:
Suzi Pomerantz, coaching consultant and owner of Innovative
Leadership International, has trained and coached over 1000 clients in
leadership development and personal effectiveness. Shes available
weekdays at (301) 601-1525 or by e-mail at