Today's Challenge: What Do I Look For in a Coach?

This is the next installment in a weekly series in which I attempt to answer a question asked by a leader somewhere in the world. This is actually part two of the post I wrote last Friday, Should I Hire a Coach? My short answer was, it depends. For me, the answer is yes. If you decide you too could benefit from a coach, you may ask today’s question: What do I look for in a coach?

To tell the truth, I’ve not shopped around a lot for a coach. I started working with Daniel Harkavy of Building Champions about 5 years ago. Daniel came highly recommended from several trusted sources, so I hired him. However, even if you have a trusted recommendation, there are still a few things you’ll want to consider before you sign the contract. Here’s my short list for your consideration.
Scope – Are you looking for a sales coach? A communications coach? A golf coach? Or, are you looking for a life coach? This is probably the first question I would encourage you to consider. You may decide you need more than one adviser. For this season of my life, I decided I needed a life coach. And, I will still hire other specialty advisers as needed. For example, I’ve worked with several communications coaches over the years.
Values – You certainly don’t have to see eye to eye on every issue. Diverse beliefs and opinions can be valuable. But I’m guessing you’ll want a coach who has similar values to your own. If you are a giving and compassionate leader, you may not want a coach whose philosophy is get all you can and can all you get.
Methodology – What is their process? What is their plan? Do they have one? Do they prefer to coach over the phone or in person? Does your potential coach prefer a 6-month engagement? A 12-month engagement? Or, like a coach I met recently who works on a 24-month cycle. These are things you need to know and consider.
Chemistry – This point may be debatable. I guess you could argue that you don’t really need to get along with your coach. That may be true from a technical point-of-view. You may have had a high school or college coach you didn’t get along with. However, the ones you played the hardest for were probably those who connected with you personally. I think chemistry matters.
Price – What will this cost? I probably didn’t need to mention this. You would have asked anyway. I've done enough research to find coaches that charge a wide range of fees. My advice is to find someone that meets all your criteria and then negotiate on the price. That doesn’t mean beat them down on the price. It may mean phone coaching instead of face-to-face visits, or shorter calls, or calls monthly vs. weekly. Also, you can reduce the length of the engagement to reduce the cost. If you find your coach is adding value, you can always re-up.
If you decide to get a coach, choose wisely. A great coach can have a huge impact on your life and leadership.[GLS_Shield]


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