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How to find the perfect coach - part one

RitaPerea_17-web-2- Rita Perea is president and CEO of Rita Perea Leadership Coaching and Consulting, specializing in working with senior leaders to successfully engage employees, lead teams, manage change and balance work and life.

You know you’re ready for change. You want it! You need it! You’re revving your engines to move full speed ahead. But … you aren’t sure how to determine your destination, map out your journey and keep the gas flowing to get there. So you putter along, moving forward but not at a rapid pace.

I have fantastic news for you! You CAN zoom ahead. All you need is assistance from someone like me — a professional coach. Coaching is customized professional development offering accelerated, results-oriented change. I am a cheerleader and project manager all rolled into one. When someone like you comes into my office, I help you figure out what you want to achieve, map out a path for success, and then hold your hand and cheer you all the way across the finish line. I believe you can do it! I know you can do it! And I can help you make it happen!

Hiring a professional coach is an investment in your personal and professional self. It’s recognizing that something needs to change in order to exude the confidence and clarity that high performers experience. It is also reaching out for support and help to get there.

Coaching isn’t for people who have “hit rock bottom.” I have some people who come to me feeling overwhelmed, but in general, individuals who seek out coaching are truly the best and brightest. Their goal is to shine brighter. To that end, coaching provides customized professional development and heightened self-awareness as no other method can offer.

According to published study results from Manchester Inc., executives who received coaching services realized a sixfold return on those services. Wow! Imagine accomplishing almost as much in a single day as you previously did in an entire week — including the weekends. How could you not take advantage of these benefits? The most significant improvements came in the area of working relationships, up 77 percent; teamwork, up 67 percent; and productivity, up 53 percent. These results speak for themselves. Working with the right coach can truly give you the boost you need to experience the life you’ve always dreamed of both inside and outside of the office.

As a word of warning — coaching is not therapy! The point of coaching is to help you determine where you are currently at and how to move forward. If you need to delve through deep emotional issues from your past, a coach should refer you to the appropriate trained professional for that type of treatment. Please know that a qualified, reputable coach will not attempt to solve these types of psychological problems; instead they will help you define and accomplish objectives that can be achieved through setting goals and supporting you to achieve those goals.

Like any other improvement technique, results depend greatly on the quality of the service and the depth of your commitment. You need to be open and ready to challenge your old habits and patterns and replace them with new ones. Once you’ve prepared yourself, following an intentional process for hiring a wonderful coach will help you get the results you want.

Another word of warning: Buyer beware! Coaching is an unregulated industry. That means that anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a coach. It is very important to find a trusted adviser who will provide you with the professional service you are seeking. While the benefits can be exponentially positive, it's important to do your homework to find the right type of coach who has the correct training, background and experience to help you meet your business or personal goals.

Step One: What type of coach do you need?

Coaches specialize in different areas and should have had rigorous training, background and experiences to support their areas of expertise. The first step in finding the perfect coach is to determine the type of coach you are seeking, or the area of expertise that they need to have, to help you get the results you are looking for. Just like you wouldn’t hire a plumber to fix your car motor, you would not hire a life coach to help you unravel your business finances. Take a look at the list of coaching specialties below to begin to pinpoint your exact needs. Some talented coaches offer more than one type of coaching in their practice.

  • Life or personal coach. This is an adviser who focuses on supporting you as you make changes in your personal life with areas such as dealing with teenagers, aging parents, relationship strategies, household management, etc. Life coaches help you develop a solid self-awareness and foundation for changing habits that may be keeping you stuck.
  • Career coach. The function of a career coach is to help a client discern the type of job they are searching for, to create or polish up a resume, and to provide support through a successful job search. A career coach may also assist with helping a client make a successful career transition from one industry to another in a strategic and planned way.
  • Executive or leadership coach. An adviser who assists senior leaders (CEO, president, vice president-level), nonprofit executive directors, supervisors, managers, and program or department directors to strategically reach short-term and long-term goals. This may also include those who are aspiring to increasing levels of responsibility. Executive coaches tend to look at all aspects of a client's world, both personal and professional, to help them hyper-increase productivity and team performance, and to support them as they squeeze the juice out of life and work.
  • Business coach. If you are an entrepreneur or a business owner, a business coach can assist you with analyzing the structure and financial information of your business and help you decide where changes are recommended to help you reach your goals. A business coach can help you identify opportunities for all functions of your business, from personnel (getting the right people into the right positions), to exploring marketing plans, to increasing your sales.
  • Health coach. A relatively new category of coaching, health coaches support their clients in making nutritional and exercise changes to experience a more healthy lifestyle. The best health coaches are charging a fee for their health or medical expertise to help you achieve well-being. If a health coach is selling a product and offering advice for free with the purchase of that product, they are really just a glorified sales person. Knowing where your coach received their training to become a coach is important.
  • Spiritual coach (also known as a spiritual director). A spiritual coach offers support as clients discern their life purpose, their connection to that which is beyond, their spiritual beliefs, their spiritual traditions and practices, and explore their intuition and transcendence. A spiritual director may be steeped in only one religious tradition or may be “inter-Spiritual” — honoring all seekers, questioning agnostics and atheists.
  • Wealth or money coach. An adviser whose intention is not to sell financial products to make a commission, but rather to offer unbiased advice and recommendations about all aspects of your personal financial picture. This could include exploring budgeting, improving cash flow, analyzing purchases, shopping for insurances, and achieving financial short-term and long-term goals.
  • Time management and work-life balance coach. I have combined these two specialty areas because they both support a client in discerning their relationship with time and their habits or patterns that add to or detract from harmony and productivity at work and at home. While this may be a stand-alone professional development strategy, time management or work-life balance coaching is typically included under the umbrella of another type of coaching, life coaching, executive coaching, etc., to help a client become more productive.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of coaching services, just the most common list of offerings. It is a great first step in understanding what you, or one of your employees, may expect from a coach and why you might consider investing in one.

In part two and part three of this series I will help you discover the extraordinary qualities of a good coach and provide some interview questions that you can use when making a decision to move forward with a coach. This will help you be all set to zoom ahead and hire the perfect coach.

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