8 Keys to Picking the Right Coach
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In times of recession, companies must do more with less. Providing executive coaches to high-potential performers is one way to get the most from untapped talent.

Unfortunately, many executives select a coach based on referrals from colleagues, without adequately considering personal needs. The person sponsoring the engagement usually sends a few coaches for interviews and asks the executive to select one based on “fit.”

But without a greater understanding of what happens in a coaching relationship, it’s difficult to make a fair assessment and pick a good match.

In Your Executive Coaching Solution (Davies-Black, 2007), Joan Kofodimos says a coach should achieve most of the following:

  1. Strike a balance between supporting and challenging you
  2. Help create feedback loops with colleagues
  3. Assist in clarifying your true strengths, values and purpose
  4. Provide structure in the development process
  5. Broaden your perspectives
  6. Teach concepts and skills
  7. Maintain confidentiality
  8. Influence how others view you

1. Pick for Support and Ability to Challenge

You’re more likely to open up to a coach who creates a safe, confidential environment. Coaches accomplish this in part by demonstrating they understand and respect your interests, values and concerns. But coaches must also provide challenges that motivate you to perform beyond your habitual behaviors; confront you directly, yet nonjudgmentally, with the impact of your actions; and probe the motives and assumptions underlying your behaviors.

Using the Coaching Relationship

The way you select your coach is significant. Do you see the coach as a subordinate? A vendor or outside consultant? An authority figure whose primary relationship is with your boss? How do gender, race or other personal characteristics influence the way you interact with your coach? Pick a coach who can raise issues impartially and show you how your behaviors affect others.

2. Pick for Feedback Loops

Your peers will rarely share authentic feedback with you, and a skilled coach can solicit important information in a way that satisfies confidentiality requirements.

Your coach should help you develop the skills needed to create relationships in which you can ask for honest feedback on an ongoing basis.

Instead of encouraging dependence, your coach should teach you how to manage your development in the future. After an initial assessment, a good coach shows you how to form links with colleagues and teaches them how to frame useful, specific feedback instead of vague judgments.

Your coach will teach you to ask for feedback and manage the conversation without being defensive. This includes learning how to determine which feedback is relevant and valid, prioritize the issues you need to address and figure out how to handle them.

3. Pick for Clarifying Values and Purpose

Skilled coaches help you clarify your developmental, career and life goals. They should also teach you how to sort out your needs, wants, concerns and boundaries in any particular situation, which allows you to become more comfortable and act more consistently when completing goals, even in complex circumstances.

4. Pick for Structuring the Development Process

Your coach must help you manage each step of the coaching project:

  • Establish a contract
  • Get input from others
  • Review feedback and plan development
  • Hold regular coaching meetings to practice new behaviors
  • Implement behaviors in daily work
  • Assess for results

5. Pick for Broadening Perspective

Your coach should help you break free of any limiting beliefs and assumptions. A significant shift in perspective can occur when your coach:

  • Provides additional viewpoints
  • Plays devil’s advocate
  • Looks at situations as others might
  • Asks new questions
  • Offers new approaches

6. Pick for Teaching New Concepts and Skills

  • Good coaches present a mental model of what leadership means, what it takes to be effective and the key skills required. They should teach skills relevant to your particular situation and assist with implementation in daily interactions.

7. Pick for Confidentiality

Your coach must effectively navigate risky waters filled with sensitive, confidential information. Because a coach may be engaged with several members of the same organization or team, it’s vital to respect boundaries and maintain confidentiality.

8. Pick for Influencing Others’ Views of You

Coaches help your colleagues notice the changes you make, invite them to become involved in your development and possibly change their behavior in relation to you. A qualified, e’perienced coach can influence others’ views by:

  • Coaching your relationships, not just you
  • Challenging others’ assumptions that a problem resides entirely with you
  • Contracting with key colleagues to determine their desired outcomes of the coaching process and assessing their willingness to share feedback and participate in conversations
  • Facilitating conversations between you and colleagues to share coaching insights, development plans and new e’pectations (in both directions)
  • Helping you solicit ongoing feedback on relevant behaviors

Roles a Coach Should Not Play

A good coach will consciously avoid roles that hinder your ability to take independent action:

  • Cheerleader: Coaches should not give positive reinforcement from the sidelines for everything you do.
  • Therapist: Coaches should not deal strictly with your personal adjustment and psychological issues, even if they’re qualified and licensed to do so.
  • Executor of the Boss’s Wishes: Coaches should do more than force you to conform to a superior’s expectations, even when given an agenda when hired.
  • Shadow Manager: Coaches cannot advise you on business decisions or act on your behalf.
  • One-Sided Advocate: Coaches must look at all viewpoints and resist taking one side.

Beware of deciding upon the look and feel of a good fit. Be sure to balance feeling comfortable with the person against your need to be challenged as you grow. You must believe a coach can help you change.

As your coach, I provide challenges that motivate you to perform beyond your habitual behaviors;
confront you directly, yet nonjudgmentally, with the impact of your actions; and probe the motives
and assumptions underlying your behaviors.

You deserve more in your life, and you can start going for it today! I have a few spots available for May coaching.

Call me right now.

Let's Talk!

Call me today (949) 721-5732 to schedule a 30 minutes consultation.

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Moty Koppes is a certified master coach providing you with personal development, life coaching, relationship coaching, communication skills, personal power, life balance, career coaching, productivity enhancement, executive coaching and stress reduction in Newport Beach, Orange County, Southern California.