This following article originally appeared in
Market Monthly: In Business for Business™ in 1996.

Coaching: A Doorway to Innovation
& Creative Thought

Successful 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 1980’s, 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.


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.

Armed with 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.

Something 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.

Coaches are 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,
enhance your creativity, heighten
your effectiveness, and increase
your power to achieve your goals.


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 coach’s 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.

#2. 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 coach’s 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?

#4. Does 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 coach?

#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 coach’s 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.

#7. 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 coach’s 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 organizations.

#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.

Coaching is 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. She’s available weekdays at (301) 601-1525 or by e-mail at

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