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How to Choose the Best Coach for You (Updated)

These 8 steps will help you find the best coach to help you achieve your goals.
· Coaching
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Congratulations! You’ve decided that you’re ready to be coached. Now you get to pick the perfect coach to help you finally start making progress towards your goals.

You’re thrilled and can’t wait to get started.

The only problem is, you have no idea where to start looking for a good coach, much less the best coach! The only remaining question is, how the heck are you meant to find the best coach, given the amount of choice in the market?

It can feel overwhelming to know what to look for in a coach and to figure out exactly which one will be the right fit for you to help you reach your goals.

Here are some pro tips to help you simplify this process and figure out which coach is the right one for you.

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1. Know what you want to be coached on.

You might not have a crystal clear picture of what the end goal looks like, but you need to know where in your life or career you need the most support. A good coach can help you refine your topic — but in order to find him or her, you’ll have to do some serious reflecting beforehand - are you struggling with a new role at work? Are you feeling stuck in your life and need someone to help shake you out of it? Are you struggling to uncover your personal values?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to get clear on where you need support:

  • Where is it that I feel most stuck?
  • What is it that I most want to change or transform in my life?
  • What would it look like if everything was aligned exactly as I want it to be?

These questions can help you decide what it is you want support with from a coach and what type of coach you should be looking for, e.g. a career coach, life coach, relationship coach, leadership coach, or maybe someone who has experience with both business and life coaching.

Each coach brings with them a lifetime of experience and knowledge that they can use to support you in your process, so the clearer you are on what it is you want support with, the easier it will be to find the right match.

2. Decide what credentials matter most to you.

There are so many different ways that someone becomes a coach — some start learning the trade in their workplace, some have gone through university training, and others have done extensive certifications. It is up to you to decide which of these credentials matters to you — and educate yourself (at least a little) on the different types of trainings coaches can have.

There are many credible certification bodies out there, like ICF or EMCC, so you can find a coach with these credentials, depending on your personal or professional needs.

3. Understand how you want to be coached.

Do you prefer to meet face-to-face or would you rather speak to someone virtually? Do you want someone who will be tough on you and not let you get away with things, or do you prefer a coach who will nurture you in your journey?

These kinds of questions will help you identify things like:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Previous experience
  • Number of sessions (is a package of multiple sessions, or one-off coaching sessions)

Some people prefer to have in-person interaction, while others enjoy the slightly more private, yet still intimate, feeling of speaking on the phone. Each coach works differently and this is a matter of personal preference for you.

4. Do some research.

Start looking up coaches on online platforms or using good old Google search to see what coaches have your specialized focus or live in your area.

Look at each coach’s thought leadership in different areas. Have they published articles or research on particular topics of interest to you? Does his or her website resonate with you? What does his or her personal brand represent for you? What have past clients had to say about working with him/her? What impact does his/her online presence have for you?

Figure out what types of clients they’ve worked with in the past — did they always coach senior executives at Fortune 500s or have they helped entrepreneurs to get their business off the ground? Perhaps they’ve helped 20-somethings navigate their life purpose and career trajectory or helped 60-somethings figure out how they want to spend their retirement years.

I truly believe a good coach can support you through powerful inquiry and reflection — but the more experience a coach has with someone going through a similar experience to your own, the more they might be able to lend a hand in the process.

5. Ask your friends.

If you still don’t know what you should be looking for in a coach, or how to find the right one, start asking people you know if they’ve ever worked with a coach before and what the impact was. When someone has had a good experience, they will be more than happy to share it with you. This goes for the not-so-great experiences as well.

It’s easy enough to find 3–5 people who have worked with a coach and might be willing to recommend that person to you. Or tell you where you can begin your search.

Now that you have some names…

6. Decide if he or she can help you achieve your professional goals.

Take a look at the coach’s professional background and history — do they have a similar path to yours? Is it completely different? Do you want to find a coach who’s success or career path inspires and motivates you? Or do you prefer to work with someone in a completely different field from your own so you can benefit from new perspectives?

Ask to see testimonials or referrals from past clients. Figure out what they have helped others with in the past. Ask for stories of successes or surprises in past coaching relationships. Coaches love to share these stories, mostly because we are proud of the transformation we witness in our clients’ lives.

Feel free to ask your burning questions and check with your intuition if this is the right person to support you as well.

7. Get to know the coach & check if there’s good chemistry.

Most coaches will offer you the opportunity to have a chemistry call (or a sample session) to see if you are a good fit for each other, so you can begin to reach out and test the waters before committing to one particular coach or program.

Ask potential coaches if you can have a taste of what coaching will be like with them in a Sample Session or Discovery Call. This is the best way to determine if you will work well together and if this coach can help you to achieve your goals.

Even if it’s short, this will give you an idea if you feel good talking with this person and truly believe they can support you. Sometimes you want someone who pushes you, sometimes you want someone who nurtures you. Either way — find the coach that you believe you can trust and hits that sweet spot to give you the push you need on your journey.

Even the best coach won’t be able to help you if you aren’t clear on what it is you want to get from the coaching. So here’s one more bonus step to take in the process of finding (and finally picking!) your coach.

8. Set clear goals for your coaching.

At the beginning of your relationship, every coach will ask you what it is you hope to achieve through coaching. Be clear about your goal!

The clearer you are about what you want to achieve at the end, the more effective and impactful your coaching journey will be — and the easier it is to pick the right coach to support you on that journey.

If you don’t know where you are heading, how will you know if you’ve made progress to reach it? It’s okay if your goals change over time, or you uncover something new or unexpected during the process, but try to be clear from the beginning about why you chose to work with a coach and what you hope to achieve through your coaching relationship.

To Recap:

  1. Know what you want to be coached on.
  2. Decide what credentials matter most to you.
  3. Understand how you want to be coached.
  4. Do some research.
  5. Ask your friends.
  6. Decide if he or she can help you achieve your professional goals.
  7. Get to know the coach & check if there’s good chemistry.
  8. Set clear goals for your coaching.

Working with a coach 1:1 is the best way to create change in your life when you know you’re ready, but don’t know where to begin. Schedule a 20-min discovery call with Amanda to learn how coaching can help you to achieve your goals and reach the next level.

Amanda Parker, Leadership Coach & Founder of The Courage Factory, works with leaders, like you, who want to find more fulfillment and purpose in their life and work.

Through coaching with Amanda, you will clarify your purpose & values, and start to feel confident in your ability to inspire, engage, and lead others.