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6 Insights to Finding the Right Coach

May 17, 20235 min read

Finding the right coach seems like it would be easy. However, that is not always the case. What are some things you should look for when seeking a coach? How can you tell if he is the right fit for you? Read below to discover 6 insights to finding the right coach.

Insight #1: Your coach is a giver, not a taker.

Great coaches are always about their clients. Their goal is to make you, the client, successful. In fact, they measure their success by your success.  

Coaches who are more interested in themselves will provide limited help to their clients. A client needs to know that his coach takes a vital interest in him. While business coaching is not personal coaching, coaching is about the client’s life and organization. The two are intertwined.    

A client wants a coach who has his back. He wants a coach who deeply invests his time, skill, and talent into him as a client. He wants a coach who is a giver, not a taker. Coaches need to earn income, but great coaches are more concerned about a client than earning money. Make sure you choose a coach who is a giver, not a taker.

Finding the Right Coach

Insight #2: Your coach is experienced.

Education is important, but experience is more important. Make sure you choose a coach who has a deep level of life-experience. I frequently tell my clients, “I don’t know everything, but I can tell you some things not to do, because I tried that, and it didn’t work.” Knowing what works and doesn’t work comes from experience.

A coach’s experience doesn’t always have to be in your specific industry.  After all, you’re the expert in your industry. A coach with experience in a variety of industries can bring best practices from other organizations to your organization.  

Most leaders know their industry. They just need some help gaining clarity, developing strategies and a plan, executing the plan, and developing proper metrics to measure results. As a coach, I dig deeply into their insights about their industry. We collaboratively work together to move their organization ahead.   

Insight #3: Your coach offers a discovery session.

What is a discovery session?  It’s a complimentary coaching session so you as a potential client can experience what it’s like to have him as a coach. During that time both the client and the coach sense if the chemistry is right between each other. The client experiences the value of coaching, and the coach senses if the client is truly coachable.

Think of a discovery session like taking a car for a “trial spin.” No one buys a car without sitting in the driver’s seat, looking in the trunk, and driving the car. Before you buy, you test out the car. The same should be true of coaching.

As a coach, I do not take on every prospect.  There must be the right chemistry. I must sense that the client is someone in whom I want to invest my time, energy and skill. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to walk away. Discontinuing a coaching/client relationship can be painful. Both the coach and the client should "take the coaching relationship for spin" before engaging.

Schedule Your Discovery Session

Insight #4: Your coach listens carefully.

Great coaches ask lots of questions. They listen carefully to your answers. They design their questions to help you, the client, to gain clarity, to understand your strengths and weaknesses, and to strategically address and overcome your challenges.  

There are no quick fixes in business. Listening carefully enables a coach to understand the challenges and opportunities of a business owner or manager.  

Listening carefully enables a coach to help shoulder the load of running an organization. I frequently tell my clients, “You have to talk with someone about your business. And, let’s face it, your spouse is tired of hearing about it.” Almost always, they laugh, because they know this statement is true.

Periodically, clients come to a coaching session and rant. After they complete their rant, I usually ask, “Should we work on this problem, or was that just a rant?” As a coach, I realize that sometimes the leader just needs to rant.

Insight #5: Your coach holds you accountable.

A great coach holds the leader accountable. He pushes the leader to take action on the things he wants to accomplish. While a coach needs to demonstrate empathy, he must also provide friendly accountability. At times, we all make excuses, but a good coach will not allow his client to wallow in circumstances or uncontrollable events. He directs him to become solution-oriented, rather than problem-focused.    

As a coach, I send the client away with very specific “action items” to accomplish before the next session. I tell clients, “I know that sometimes you will not complete them all. But, let me tell you what you will not do. You will not come back to meeting after meeting without completing them. It’s just too embarrassing, plus it's too costly. You recognize that you will be paying me to embarrass yourself.”    

Make sure you get a coach that will force you to take action on what you need to do. Holding a client accountable is one of the best things a good coach does.

Finding the Right Coach

Insight #6: Your coach keeps you focused.  

Getting on track to improve your organization is challenging. Staying on track to improve your organization is even more challenging. In fact, without outside, objective help it feels impossible.  

Great coaches help you gain AND keep clarity. In an organization, there are so many distractions. You have inventory issues, personnel issues, cash-flow issues, marketing issues, etc. The list of issues can be very long and VERY distracting. Before you realize it, you are putting out fires, and your organization is standing still.

Coaches regularly discuss that most leaders are “so busy working IN their business, they are not working ON their business.”  Working on your business is how you move ahead. It is very hard to do. That’s why most people need a good coach to keep them focused. Staying focused enables your organization to move ahead.  

To conclude, choosing the right coach is essential. Additional insights could be added to this list, but the 6 key insights above will help you find the right coach. Don’t be afraid to sample a number of coaches before choosing one. If they are unwilling to provide “a test run,” move on. You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it. Why should you hire a coach without trying him?


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Dave Pennington PhD

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