How to choose the ‘right’ coach

How to choose the ‘right’ coach

While finding the right coach can be an adventure in itself, the results of coaching are often profound and life changing. In this article, John Smallwood, Coach Principal and Master Coach of the Engenesis Coach Academy, provides some insights into how to look for, select and engage the appropriate coach for you.


May 10, 2022

4 mins read

Choosing the right coach can often be a daunting exercise, especially as we tend to wait to seek support until we are already in the midst of a crisis or breakdown and at our most vulnerable – as was my experience when I engaged my very first coach many years ago. I frequently receive calls from people who have been referred by past or existing clients and are looking for support to deal with an immediate issue. They have a pressing need and want a ‘quick fix’, and while I always endeavour to support them when possible and appropriate, this is not the best use of coaching. While I believe that it is important to seek support in a crisis, it is far more beneficial to establish a relationship with a coach long before things get out of hand.

Having a coach is a significant investment, so it is worth taking the time to gain clarity on what you want to achieve from coaching before choosing a coach. Be as specific as you can and identify the key measurable outcomes that are important to you. They could be business or personal issues, such as a specific area of your life or a relationship where you may experience being in a holding pattern or stuck, or a more general part of your life that you wish to improve. Once you have identified what you intend to achieve from coaching, you can start searching for your coach in earnest. If you know of any peers or colleagues who have engaged a coach previously, you could ask them about their coaching experience and what worked for them. However, it is important to note that each coaching relationship is unique. It is based on what you both bring to the relationship and, in particular, how committed and open you are to the process. 

There are a great many coaches on platforms such as LinkedIn, and I’ve personally browsed through many hundreds of coach profiles over the years. While I love the diversity of coaches out there, it can be very confusing when you are trying to distinguish who will work best with you. One of the first things to look for in a coach is the methodology they use and the coaching techniques they incorporate. Once you have identified this aspect of their practice, you can consider how appropriate it is for your needs. A sports coach will have a very different approach from that of a business coach, so consider whether you want a coach to support you in making business decisions, for example, or a life or relationship coach. 

The descriptions that coaches use in their profiles often provide some valuable insights and an indication of their client preferences. You will often see coaches describing themselves by the methodology they use, such as ontology, or NLP, while others may describe their key areas of focus, – for example, leadership, life, business, health, relationships or, organisational. In the Engenesis Coach Academy and Thrive Coach training programs, we use our core methodology, the Being Framework™, across a comprehensive range of applications.

Knowing who the coach has worked with in the past can provide an additional indication of fit and I encourage you to check their testimonials and, where possible, reach out directly to past clients to ask them about their experience and what they have achieved as a result of the coaching. You will find that past clients who have had a positive outcome will usually be very happy to share their experience with you.

A website or profile is unlikely to provide any real insight into the ‘chemistry’. Therefore, I would never engage a coach before I had connected with them face-to-face, asked some questions and spent time exploring and understanding how we would work together.  Coaching is a very personal relationship that requires a level of trust commensurate with the results you want to achieve.

Potential coaching clients can get caught up in a coach’s industry experience. However, commercial experience is far less important than their coaching ability. Potential clients often ask if I’ve worked in their industry before, presumably based on the assumption that this is a necessary attribute. The reality is that I coach people from wildly diverse backgrounds, countries and organisations, and across every imaginable industry. If you are a leader, manager, entrepreneur or coach, then you are likely to be dealing with different versions of the same issues as other leaders, whether you are the CEO of a multimillion-dollar international enterprise or you’re getting a small startup off the ground. The scale may be different, but the fundamental issues will likely be the same.

Cost is an obvious consideration, and this is something that you have to resolve for yourself as there are no hard and fast rules. I recommend you adopt the approach that YOU are fully responsible for achieving the intended outcome and ensuring that you get a disproportionate amount of value from your investment. Avoid falling into the trap of trying to remunerate a coach as a consultant or purely on a transactional or outcome basis. Your coach is there to support you in achieving the result, not to achieve it for you, and without doubt the best coaching relationships are those that are true partnerships.

If you would like some further information, or have questions about engaging a coach or starting your own coaching journey, please reach out to me by contacting me through my Engenesis Platform profile.

CoachingOrganisationBeing FrameworkOntological Coach

John Smallwood
John Smallwood

About The Author

Coach Principal of the Engenesis Coach Academy, John is an ontologically trained leadership coach and Thrive Master Coach, coach Trainer and facilitator accredited across multiple methodologies. John has a deep appreciation of and powerful insights into how leaders determine the optimal performance of their teams and organizations.

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