What skills should you look for in your Coach?

28 February 2018 03:22
Business Support Model - how coaches, mentors, advisors and consultants fit into the workplace.
There are 53,300 coaches globally, according to a 2016 International Coaching Federation (ICF) and PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) report. That doesn't include sport coaches, financial coaches and bank tellers who are called coaches. It does include all the different types of traditional coaches though - life, relational, executive, leadership, team, group, etc.

So what skills should you look for in your coach?

Well, first off they have to be good listeners. We all have two ears and one mouth and your coach should be using them in at least that proportion. I would actually argue that instead of 33%, your coach should not be talking for more than 15-20% of your time with them. And when they do talk, it is to ask you a question that will change your thinking.

That's what coaching is all about. Getting you to think differently about situations so you can explore your ideas through a different angle. Your coach is not there to tell you what to do but to challenge the way you do things. They must be able to apply their knowledge quickly in order to understand your challenges.

Your coach needs to have a broad understanding of the business world rather than a narrow understanding of the work that you do. You aren't engaging a coach to learn how to do your job better, that's the role of a mentor. You engage a coach to give you a new perspective on how to do things. Otherwise you'll never stand out from the crowd.

Coaches must be inquisitive people by nature. They are the ideas people, the "anything is possible" people who will see many paths before you that are all possible and achievable. This is where you will benefit from your competitors because you'll be ahead of the pack.

And coaches must be able to remember what you've talked to them about so they can hold you accountable to the goals that you set. When you get stuck, your Coach should be able to remind you what you talked about a few weeks ago. This will give you a nudge so when you're lacking inspiration you pick up one of your own threads.

Ultimately though, it comes down to trust. Confidentiality is the basis of your relationship with you coach; and it is a relationship, it's not just a contractual agreement. Your coach will be traveling with you on your journey for as long as you need them. You need to enjoy your journey with your coach whilst confident that they will challenge you to think differently and create the space for you to learn freely.

By Christopher Brooks
Director, Leadership & Learning

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