Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Life Coach
Ultimately, the goal of every coach should be to help create clarity for the client by helping them to develop a mindset, helping them to foster a clear vision of what the client is wanting to achieve and create a plan of action to help the client move forward step by step.
But if you ask five different life coaches what they consider the most important attributes when choosing a life coach and you will probably get five different answers. So what that tells you, if you read between the lines, is that it is really a matter of opinion by the life coach and the clients themselves. In fact, there is no hard and fast rule of thumb. Clearly, most coaches value the same things but the order of importance can widely vary. Focus can vary from listening skills, to life skills they bring to the table, to the tools utilized, to certification.
I, myself, believe all of the above are important. In my opinion, most people who choose a career in life coaching, regardless of the niche they choose, have a natural knack for helping people. While a lot of coaches believe that being certified is most important thing to consider, I do not necessarily buy into that line of thinking. Even though I feel credentials are important because they lend credibility, I feel know-how and a good coach-client connection are what are essential to be successful at it. Through the process of certification, the life coach should have learned tools and skills that will aid them in coaching clients to a successful end so they do not have to be a life-long client. But even being a certified life coach does not guarantee that that coach is good at helping people. We have all known teachers that cannot teach and great doctors who have no bedside manner! Personally, I think that being able to coach is an innate trait that some people have and others do not.
In my opinion, I believe the following are the most important attributes of a good life coach.
- Good listening skills (see What's Needed to be a Good Listener article) are a must! Probably the most important attribute, in my opinion, is whether or not a client feels like the coach is really listening to what the client is saying (as well as what they are not saying). You should be able to tell that the coach is focused on you. Does the coach ask questions that make you think and come back with more to share? Do you feel the coach is honoring you and what you say?
- Good rapport. While the listening skills of the coach are integrally important to a working relationship, I cannot stress how truly important I think it is that the client and the coach sync up well together. If conversation is difficult or you just do not like the personality of the coach, why bother? I mean, you are asking for help in an area that is already challenging for you. Why complicate it with a coaching personality that just does not work with yours? My advice, don’t! And take them up on their offer for a free consultation – that is your opportunity, if for nothing else, to figure this part out.
- Honesty and openness. Do you feel your coach is being open and honest with you? As with No. 2 above, why bother if you get the feeling the coach is afraid to or just cannot ask the tough questions and give honest answers. Again, being open and honest goes back to honoring the person, the client. I think for the coach, it should be all or nothing!
- Life experiences. This too, is an important factor to me. As I was writing this, I tried very hard to think of one person, who has given me good advice, who had not gone through their own trial and tribulations. Newsflash! There was not one! But, this is not to imply that a logical person cannot give good advice too. I mean, rationally speaking, if a person is smart and experienced in lots of life events, they can generally see the potential outcomes of a situation, both good and bad. Experience, however, can add compassion and insights that logic only cannot.
- Certification. As mentioned above, while I do not think certification is absolutely 100% necessary, I think it is a good idea. To me, it indicates that the person was serious enough to follow through the process and more than likely, learned many insights, skills and tools along the way. Those skills along with continual education, albeit other classes, blogs or coaches, just aid an already good coach into hopefully a great coach.
I would like to finish the way I began this article. There are no hard and fast rules as to what makes a good life coach. The above-mentioned are my opinions. They indicate what I think is important and what I utilize in my coaching services and how I approach my clients. As with all things in life, the journey has to align with the destination.
*Additional items you may want to consider when selecting a life coach:
1. Is the life coach able to accurately assess your needs?
2. Are YOU open to change? Are YOU willing to take the necessary steps to move forward?
3. Are you really in need of help from a mental health professional instead if a coach?
4. Are your sessions with the coach working for you?