I started my career in marketing and had some great
jobs, but I really became interested in the people side of things after being
trained in communication and working in teams.
My graduate studies were in Organizational
Development. I am still at the first job
I was offered—in HR as a trainer—but I just don’t like it. Most employees don’t
seem to really care about training and it is always up to me to try to make it
interesting for them.
I now realize that what I really am is a coach. I
wish I had a graduate degree in coaching instead of OD. How can I tell if I would be a good
coach? How do I know if I would like it
better than being a trainer? How would you recommend I proceed?
Missed the Boat?
Dear Missed the Boat,
a lot of letters asking about this as well as a lot of requests for
informational interviews from people who are thinking of becoming coaches, so
your questions are timely.
coaching, really? It depends on who you ask. It might be easier to define what coaching isn’t. Coaching isn’t giving people feedback, telling them what to do, or teaching
or training them. Coaching isn’t a
matter of simply listening really well and asking some questions.
organization defines coaching as “A deliberate process using focused
conversations to create an environment that results in accelerated performance
requires partnership and dialogue. Ideally, both parties learn from the
experience. Many think that coaching is about giving advice. In fact, a coach
can offer ideas and suggestions but generally guides clients through their own
decision process. One of the reasons I
do this column is because I really don’t give much advice in my work, but it is
so much fun to do it!
How can I tell if I would be a good coach? Good coaches are collaborative by nature. They want the best for their clients and see them as capable and creative. They trust others to solve problems and make decisions. The professional organization I am most familiar with is the International Coach Federation (ICF), which is the oldest and largest professional association for coaches. The ICF has developed a thorough list of competenciess that can help you understand where your development gaps might be.
Where do I begin if I think I want to pursue being
a professional coach? The ICF
website (www.coachfederation.org) is
an excellent source of information about all aspects of embarking on a coaching
career. If you decide to go forward, you will need to go through a coach
training program. There are a lot of
programs to choose from, many of which offer a lot of flexibility and a nice
mix of in-person and online training. Attend
all informational programs and really do your research before you decide on a
training program. There are a lot of scams out there where people promise the
moon but the program doesn’t really deliver.
Get references—find people who have attended the programs that appeal to
you and talk to them. And stay away from
any program that uses high-pressure selling techniques to get you to sign up.
might also be interested in my list of Nine Books on Coaching that Coaches Need
to Know About. The first few on the list, especially Co-Active Coaching, are key fundamental
credentialed coaches complain that anyone can hang up a shingle and say they
are a coach, and this is true. What many
people can’t do is get through an
accredited training program, jump through the hoops to get their credential,
stay on top of their own professional development, and build a thriving
practice of clients who will refer them to others.
Can I make a living as a coach? Yes,
but don’t quit your day job. Give yourself a reasonable timeline and get used
to the idea that you have to market
yourself. Having a background in marketing should help you, because building a
thriving practice takes a fair amount of work. Okay, a lot of work. It will also help your credibility if you lean
on your professional experience. Since you are already working in an
organization, you might be able to become an internal coach where you are—consider
discussing this possibility with your boss. I have seen some situations where an
organization has funded coach training for some of their HR people.
thing most people won’t tell you is that to be successful as a coach you have
to be able to attract clients, retain your clients, and thrill them to the
point that they refer people to you. So
you must get really, really good at it and be impeccably professional. This
will take some diligence and some time.
is a deeply rewarding career. The coaching mindset and skills translate
beautifully to mentoring, managing, parenting, and building a terrific life for
yourself. It will involve a steep learning curve and some intense personal
development, which is not always expected but always necessary. It will take
longer than you think it should, and it will be harder, too—but then that is
true of most things.
you good luck on your coaching adventure.
About the author
Madeleine Homan Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!