So, you’ve decided that you want to be a coach, but you’re not entirely sure where to start. There are many different training programs out there, so how do you know which one is best suited to you? This article maps out a few key areas to consider before jumping into the next step.
Structure and rigour in the approach
When it comes to learning to coach, there is a lot of information out there. Especially in this industry, a significant proportion of the information on training options is designed to inspire and motivate while offering little substance and detail. Therefore, it is important to do your due diligence to understand the level of background research and rigour that has gone into building the model being promoted. Some models may be commoditised pieces of content or ‘reruns’ of the same information repackaged. Others can be little more than a set of personal opinions. And then, there are those that follow multiple years of rigorous study and comprehensive analysis. A well-researched framework and methodical approach will put your coaching practice on solid grounding before you even start.
Never underestimate the value of community. There is enormous value in connecting with a group of like-minded peers who will support and encourage you, challenge your thinking, and hold you to account where necessary. My colleagues and I are blessed to be part of a supportive and active community of coaches at Engenesis. Our background, age, ethnicity, skill, education, experience, etc., may differ; however, we have one critical quality in common: we love and are passionate about coaching and the difference coaching makes to others.
Most of the training programs I have attended over the years have implied that they have communities, though, for the most part, I have found that they tend to remain together only for the duration of the training and then drift apart. I would encourage you to determine whether the program you are considering has a committed and active community that engages and supports each other before signing up. Engaging with a healthy community will add immense value to your coaching journey, especially as most coaches operate as solo practitioners. It is important to have peers around us to support and challenge us and, most importantly, hold us to account.
Don’t be in a hurry
Everyone is in a hurry these days. But I am always wary of accelerated education, especially when it comes to coach training. Some organisations offer ‘fast-tracked’ courses that may be appropriate for more experienced coaches who wish to review or complete their accreditation or credentialing. However, they are no substitute for providing adequate practical experience for coaches starting out. Regardless of how qualified, experienced and motivating the trainers are, you won’t learn everything there is to know about coaching in one weekend. The best coaches spend hundreds if not thousands of hours (and dollars) throughout their careers to refine their craft, and yes, it is a craft. Apart from the course's training components, you will need to dedicate adequate time to apply what you have learned on the court; in other words, coaching real people.
It’s an investment, not an expense
It makes sense to consider your coach training as an investment rather than an expense, especially as it may well be the most important investment you will make as far as your career is concerned. After all, the person you are investing in is you and, more importantly, your future. That age-old adage, ‘you get out what you put in’, aptly applies to coaching. As mentioned earlier, it’s always worth closely examining the elements of any program to ensure you are willing to invest the necessary time and effort required to get the full value. I’m often surprised when some participants ignore the non-compulsory elements in programs, observed coaching sessions, masterclasses, peer coaching, etc. In our Thrive Coach Training Program, as many as 50% of the available coach training hours are not compulsory, and it is up to the participant to ‘pull the program towards them’. For all these reasons, I encourage you to focus on the value you intend to get out of a coaching program rather than focusing purely on its cost. Remember, the right coach training is an investment into your future.
Go beyond tips and tricks
I remember running a training event many years ago, and there was a chapter entitled ‘Tips and Tricks’ in our workshop manual. The chapter contained nothing more than a blank sheet of paper. Invariably, someone would point out a mistake in the manual because they were missing the tips and tricks section. However, the blank section was intentional. The point is, we don’t provide ‘tips and tricks’ in our coach training as coaching is not about offering tips and tricks for our clients. As an ontological coach, my objective is to go deeper than surface-level tips and tricks by supporting my clients to get to the reality of the situations with which they are dealing. My advice would be to avoid training programs that spruik tips and tricks but do not cover sufficient substance and depth about what it takes to be an effective coach.
Love it or leave it
Over the past decade, I have spent time with many hundreds of coaches and not once have I found a good coach who doesn't love what they do. Sure, as a coach, there may be the occasional day when things don't seem so rosy. However, if that is the norm rather than the exception, you're likely in an unproductive career. If you are primarily coaching because you want flexible working hours and to be your own boss, I humbly suggest you consider another career. Avoid programs that focus on how much money you will make rather than the type of coach you will be. Once you are a trained coach, you can turn your attention to building a thriving practice. Our Elevate program does that very effectively by supporting coaches on the business side of coaching.
Be prepared to walk the talk
All credible coaching organisations and key bodies adhere to a code of ethics and values. These are core standards of the behaviours expected of you as a coach. Our coaching programs reiterate the importance of demonstrating what it means to BE a coach in our day-to-day lives. Being a coach is reflected in who and how you are being in everyday life. It may not always be easy to live and breathe the ethics and values you teach others in your coaching practice, but it is essential. Coaching is as much about who you are as it is about what you do.
Speak with real people
Find out as much as you can about any program you are interested in joining before committing. Speak with the program leaders and those who have participated in the programs you are considering. Ensure there is substance to what they do and who they are and that their values align with your own.
Coaching is a fascinating and challenging yet incredibly fulfilling career path. If you are interested in learning more about what it takes to be a coach or want to join one of our coach training programs at the Engenesis Coach Academy, feel free to contact me through my profile page.