How To Choose The Right Coach To Work With This Year


Angela Mulligan

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When you look at people who are excelling quickly, you’ll notice they often have one thing in common: They have a mentor or coach in their lives. If you’re like most leaders, you’re already deeply engaged in assessing what’s working and what needs attention and have set some goals for yourself for 2019.

Psychologically, people do better when there is someone in their corner of the ring, compelling them to do better and holding them accountable to higher standards. Otherwise, it can be easy to get off track and slip into patterns that don’t serve our goals or get stuck in whirring indecision that holds up our process and our growth.

So, here are five questions to ask yourself when considering which coach or mentor to invite into your life this year:

1. What are you trying to achieve?

Having an outline of the specific goals you are aiming to reach or the direction you are interested in heading helps give you a framework for making the right decision. A coach will be able to tell you either in conversation or through their branding who they are and how they help. Look for coaches and mentors who can speak to what you are after, and you will save yourself time finding a match.

2. Does your potential coach model these behaviors?

The right coach is going to help guide you to where you want to be. So, look at where they are in their lives right now and at who they have worked with in the past. Do you want to move in a similar direction?

Which aspects in particular about their life are you working toward bringing into your own? Ask them how they got where they are. Does their process align with what you are willing/able to do? It’s true that everyone’s process is different, and if you ask them details about the parts you are interested in, you can gain insight into how they will lead you there.

3. Do you feel heard?

Even in a short 15-minute conversation with someone you can get a sense of whether they are really listening to you or not. While coaching is not therapy, it is important that your coach actually sees you and has skills in deep listening and reflection to help you understand yourself better.

Steer clear of coaches who come with a prescribed script or leave you feeling steamrolled by their point of view. They should be able to work with you from exactly where you are.

4. Are they transparent about the process?

Acknowledging the parts of yourself that are scared and insecure and have been keeping you from what you want to be doing does not always leave you with an easy breezy feeling. There are going to be parts of your process that feel sticky.

If someone promises you a walk in the park or guarantees a certain amount of growth, that’s a signal to dive in deeper and ask exactly how they plan to get you there. Don’t wait until after the contract is signed to get into the details of how they help clients.

5. Do you feel comfortable being vulnerable in front of them?

There are plenty of times in life when we feel like we have to come across as confident. In a coaching relationship, it's most helpful if you can be completely honest about your insecurities and roadblocks so you can address them directly and strategize.

Everyone has fears, especially when they are growing into something new. By making a commitment to being true to yourself, the right coach can provide a safe space to work through everything that comes up. The goal is to be supported on your journey to lasting personal growth, not bullied or shamed.

To get started, do an honest assessment of yourself from 2018, highlighting what worked well and the areas that could use attention. Create a mini action plan of how you will address the items that need attention in 2019. Use this as a guideline when considering what support you are going to invite into your life, and look for a coach who will get you there.