My industry, Coaching, is a challenging one to be in. The professionals within it vary hugely; in standards, levels of qualification, experience and areas of specialism. But understanding and perceptions of the industry vary just as widely; from the rolling of eyes at the mere mention of the word ‘Coach’, to those who put their commercial and personal success squarely down to their coaching experience.

So why such an air of confusion and mixed emotions around this profession? And even more importantly, how can you navigate your way around the options?

A lot of the confusion comes from the non-obligatory nature of qualifications in our industry, and the lack of regulation. To call yourself a Coach, you do not have to be qualified. Even if you are qualified, the qualifications range from the very basic, to the extensive. The latter run potentially to many years of academic and practical study, leading to a wide range of specific certifications from well-respected and credible Coaching colleges and bodies.

If you’re considering or actively looking for a Coach, it’s because you want to go on a journey. You may want to achieve personal, professional or commercial goals. You might be looking for direction. Possibly you have a specific goal; but uncertainty, a lack of motivation, a lack of skills, or a lack of confidence are hindering you from getting there.

For this reason, my advice in choosing a Coach, is to look at their journey.

After all, if they haven’t made one of their own, how can they support you every step of the way through yours? If they woke up one day and declared themselves a Coach, or undertook a minimal qualification; how can they empathise with and support the graft, time and emotional investment it may take to get you to your goal?

And when I say journey, I don’t just mean their journey of life, although every person’s individual experience is of course of value. But their academic journey – that should equip them with the very latest research, tools, strategies and techniques available. Their professional journey, that furnishes them with a wide experience of client types and challenges to share with you. And their effort journey; their commitment to study, ongoing personal development, hard work, achieving the highest level of professional standard possible in their own lives, so that they can inspire and empower others to do the same.

Finding this ideal Coach may not be easy. But here’s a few tips to help narrow it down.

  1. First of all you need to establish exactly what kind of Coach you need. Are you looking for general help with your feelings of motivation and direction, worklife balance or self-esteem? For this you may need a professional with Life Coach skills, who also is a qualified practitioner in NLP as this is a proven technique for this objective. Or you may need a very specific skill enhancement for example in leadership, public speaking or confidence. In which case a Coach able to offer both NLP and specific practical training exercises will suit you. Perhaps you’re an entrepreneur looking to start or grow your business to the next level? A Coach with a Diploma in Small Business Coaching will be able to offer you the specialist expertise and support you need to achieve this important goal. Finally (though this list is not exhaustive) you may be aiming for career advancement and/or Executive Coaching to raise your profile and improve performance. Key to this will be your Coach’s ability to use techniques such as DISC to assess your behaviours and barriers, and set in place a coherent and evidence based plan to get you to your goal.
  2. Find out where your Coach has trained and qualified from. Ensure it’s from a reputable institution such as The Coaching Academy, in London (of course there are many more). Don’t just take a Coach’s word for it that they can practice NLP, check that they are a qualified practitioner. Also check when they qualified, as keeping our knowledge and techniques up to date is crucial in an industry which changes and produces new research all the time. Check for specialist qualifications such as those in entrepreneurship, or personal development. These will highlight the expertise of the Coach in certain areas as well as demonstrate their commitment to ensuring the highest level of knowledge in the field in which they practice.
  3. Look at level of qualifications and hours of practice undertaken during their study period. Scraping together a basic qualification in a matter of hours, and having helped out a friend or two hardly passes for someone with whom you want to entrust your life or professional goals. At best, you’ll waste valuable time in these sessions and at worst, you could be wasting money and getting further away from your end goal. Coaching is all about effectiveness, and if your Coach has earned a high level of qualification (such as high percentages in exams, Distinctions or awards), has a significant number of supervised hours of Coaching time under their belt, and evidence of recent training sessions attended; you know you’ll be investing in the very best.
  4. Look at their previous career. Most Coaches move into Coaching a bit later in life, after a successful career and experience that they feel passionate about using to inspire, upskill and empower others. For some Coaches however, at the less scrupulous end, this may not be the case. You want to improve your performance, attain your personal and business development goals; so quite rightly you should expect your Coach to lead by example with an accomplished career and references behind them. This career history should reflect the levels of professionalism, dedication and competence that will underpin their services to you.
  5. Speak, have a consultation, be specific about what you need, and ask for testimonials. Allow yourself an element of ‘gut feeling’. You do need to ‘click’ with this person; they will be with you every step of the way supporting you through self-analysis, change, development, learning and assessment. You’ll want it to be a positive, enjoyable and successful experience. But ensure your gut feeling about your Coach as a person, is matched by your Coach as a professional; with the up to date, relevant qualifications that encompass all that Coaching has to offer.

There is no short cut to being an effective and successful Coach. It takes ongoing learning, practice and commitment. If a Coach hasn’t gone through this journey, be wary of trusting them with yours.

If you’d like to find out more, please contact me for an informal chat.

Miriam Cuddihy Coaching
Coaching with Distinction

  • Small Business Diploma
  • Corporate and Executive Coaching Diploma
  • Master Practitioner in NLP
  • 200 hours of ICF certified coaching
  • Distinction in Personal Performance Diploma achieved through;
  • – Six training days
  • – 12 x one hour webinars
  • – Six mentoring sessions
  • – Five Practical Assessments, listened to by an assessor and graded
  • – 40 one hour coaching sessions with written testimonials from clients
  • – Final assessment paper of 3000 words graded 89%