Monday, June 2, 2008

Thinking Through an Offer of Coaching

A recent acquaintance of mine who lives in Scotland is hoping to relocate to the US. She apparently has a line of a job in HR - her current field - as well as an offer of coaching to help her pursue her dream of becoming a Life Coach. She asked my help in evaluating the coaching offer. Here's part of what I wrote:

That's exciting about a job in HR in the US - it's a great way to start you on your way to realizing your dream. Being in HR can give you tremendous credibility as you start on your coaching path. It will be important to think about how to package your experience as particularly relevant to coaching and helping people reach their own goals and dreams.

That's part of the context in which I'd assess the coaching offer. First, I would say that to my mind it doesn't matter whether you have a US-based coach or not. I do think you will have to have a coach, in order to have the experience of being coached - for three reasons.

1) You can use the support of having a coach help you set goals and reach them.

2) It's a GREAT learning experience! You will learn an enormous amount about how to coach from your coach - techniques and tools, philosophy, things that work and don't work with you (and possibly with your clients), getting a feel for the way a coach facilitates your own process of setting and reaching goals, the shifts you need to make in response to a client's shifts, etc.

3) Your prospective clients will be impressed and more comfortable because they know you are experienced in the coaching process.

A possible 4th reason is that by having a coach certified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), you will be set up to meet one of its qualifications if you decide to go to coaching school and get ICF certification yourself. This link tells you the why and how of ICF credentialing at various levels. Click on the PDF version to read it.

You'll see that being coached is part of the package, either as part of your coaching program or to submit as part of a "Portfolio" application for people who don't study in an ICF-accredited program. Also, you'll need 2 recommendations from qualified coaches, meaning ICF-certified coaches. So if you're interested in becoming certified, make SURE this coach has ICF credentials.

Here are some other things to consider in terms of evaluating this coaching opportunity:

* What kind of business do you envision yourself creating? Your own business from the beginning, or starting out under the auspices of another entity? There are certainly more and more entities that use coaches - and it could be a good way to start. Examples are: , and It's not as widespread as I think it will be in the future - maybe that's a goal? To set up your own coaching company with other coaches? Dream big!

* Does the prospective coach has experience similar to what you envision?
Is s/he part of a larger organization or does s/he work on their own? If the experience is different, can s/he point you to other people, can s/he be a good resource for you? If s/he knows the coaching process well, then s/he should be able to help you reach your goals.

* Has this a person reached his/her own goals? Get a bio. How did s/he start? Did s/he have to weave their past experience into a set of credentials to set up their own coaching business? If you have a choice, choose someone who started as a coach in a way similar to how you'd like to start.

* Does this person work with and understand entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship? Being a Life Coach is essentially an entrepreneurial enterprise, and it would be ideal if not essential to have someone familiar with the processes and tools of setting up an enterprise. Some coaches focus only on coaching people to reach goals within a workplace - that's not your issue (unfortunately, there are very few executive coaches on staff anywhere, although that may change over time).

Usually, the first session is a free one to check for "chemistry." That's the time to ask these questions. If the chemistry isn't right, move on. The experience will move you that much closer to getting the right coach for you.

I hope this is helpful to you as you assess this offer. I will say that the price is reasonable so if you can afford it, go for it. I suggest that you wait until you get an offer in the US - if the offer will still stand, great. If it won't, you certainly can find someone else to help you.

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