I have been inquired many times about what is to be kept in mind while finalizing a Coach, or as one of the gentlemen during a coaching summit cornered me and asked, “How do I find the real deal amongst the highly infested Coaching Industry of today?”

I was taken aback for a minute by his question and then I realized he was referring to the period of the recent pandemic which had witnessed an overflow of so-called freshly minted “Coaches.” As we recall it was a time when for many, there was absolutely nothing to do to pass the idle hours that went by while working from home or waiting for things to become normal. To keep themselves busy, many professionals, housewives, and freelancers took up short, online certification courses and got certified as a coach.

They started offering coaching services in all possible imaginable or sometimes unimaginable areas. I actually came across a Coach who was coaching on how to effectively take a dump in the toilet which he considered an unexplored niche in coaching. In the last 3 years, our new world order has been taken over by a swarm of Corona coaches buzzing all around like flies on the drop of honey.

But do such Corona Coaches really know or care what it takes to be a coach? Are a few days or weeks of an online course or the so-called presence of an empathic heart enough to pursue the noble profession of coaching? Does it give them the right to prefix their name with the highly honorable title of a Coach? I think not.

Let me share with you five pertinent questions you should ask your current or potential coach that may help you to differentiate between a  ‘Corona Coach’ and the ‘Real Deal’.

Let’s hope your coach answers these questions honestly.

5 Questions to Look upon While Choosing an Executive Coach

Question 1 – What are your Coaching Credentials?

Right Answer – “I am accredited by globally recognized federations like ICF or EMCC.”

Wrong Answer – “I am a self-made coach. I did an online certified course or/and trained on a plethora of behavior/personality tools and that along with my past experience is enough to qualify me as a Coach.”

One may question, does having credentials really matter? You bet it does. Think about how uncomfortable you will be going to a Doctor/Physician who has an online diploma/certificate or is a self-trained physician with no formal degree or accreditations.

Getting accredited by a reputed Federation can take close to 12 months to decades. A coach who holds credentials from, say an ICF or EMCC may not always guarantee a quality coach but it increases the probability. It also shows a Coach’s commitment to the noble profession.

To give you an example of how rigorous the accreditation process of any reputed Federation can be, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) framework has 3 possible credentials a coach can earn, and their requirements are as follows:

Associate Certified Coach (ACC) – Completed 60 hours of coach-specific education and 100 hours of client coaching experience

Professional Certified Coach (PCC) – Completed 125 hours of coach-specific education and 500 hours of client coaching experience

Master Certified Coach (MCC) – Hold or have held a PCC Credential, completed 200 hours of coach-specific education, and 2,500 hours of client coaching experience.

In addition, there are examinations to clear, coaching session recordings to be submitted for evaluation, mentor coaching to undergo, and continuous learning/training programs to be attended for self-development to retain your credentials.

Question 2 – Are you a full-time or a part-time coach?

Right Answer – “I am a FULL-TIME Coach with required credentials running my own company or associated in an individual capacity with top-of-the-line coaching forums like BetterUp.”

Wrong Answer – “I have another job and coaching is my passion that I pursue during free time or over weekends.”

If you are seriously ill, would you consider consulting a doctor who practices medicine as a hobby or on a part-time basis? Being a coach is a full-time commitment as they play a serious role and have a huge hand in making a difference in a person’s life. Coaching is not a hobby nor one of the ways to earn extra money. Many people became coaches to earn a side income. Either you are into Coaching or you are not. There is no middle option. The wrong pathway of practicing part-time Coaching has been the prime reason that led to the unjustified outcome of ‘corona coaches’.

Question 3 – What has been your real-life professional success journey?

Right Answer

For Leadership Coaches: “I’ve been in a leadership role for more than a decade and led my previous company on a positive growth path.”

For Startup Coaches: “I’ve built the startup that I sold or exited or have been on the advisory board of successful start-ups.”

For Executive Coaches: “I’ve been in an Executive position for ten years or more and have independently managed teams and business units which made a tremendous impact on my organization’s growth and contributed materially to the society and environment .”

Wrong Answer – “I have seen ups and downs in my business and profession. My past struggles are what qualify me to become a business/leadership/executive/start-up coach as I understand what it means to experience failure.”

(Please note that the years mentioned in the right answers are just examples. They are there to show you the success feathers that every genuine coach should have in his/her hat.)

This question is related to the real-life, practical, and work experience background of the coach. For instance, the coach should have held a leadership position for a significant part of his/her work life to qualify as a leadership or executive coach. Also, during their tenure as a leader, they must have successfully brought about amazing results for the organization. I have personally come across many individuals who consider themselves qualified to become a coach just because they struggled in the past in their business. So, ask the coach how many successful professional or business stories they were part of during their professional journey. If they have more failures to show than successes, that’s a red flag. Think again in terms of a surgeon or a doctor having a negative track record of his patient’s recovery/surgeries. Would you consider him to be your physician/surgeon in a time of need?

Question 4 – How do you continuously upskill yourself?

Right Answer – “I regularly attend workshops, and courses and explore different aspects of human behavior and/or new coaching frameworks at least once every quarter. Besides, I am also part of the global coaching community where I get exposed to the latest trends and thinking.”

Wrong Answer – “Now that I am a coach, every coaching session is a learning opportunity. Nothing better than hands-on learning so why bother with theoretical knowledge or coaching forums?”

Remember that Coaching is an extremely sensitive profession. The Coach has to be sharp as a razor’s edge to be able to sense the Coachee’s unsaid words, thoughts, and between-the-line messages. This edge has to be continuously sharpened through self-learning for it to be effective. Or else it may become ineffective or even detrimental for you as a Coachee.

Coaching fraternities like BetterUp, Ezra, etc allow coaches to connect with like-minded professionals, collaborate and learn from each other’s experiences. These platforms also offer ongoing training and development programs to help coaches stay updated on the latest coaching trends and techniques. I strongly recommend confirming with your coach about his recent pieces of training or current associations with such global forums.

Question 5 – How do you hold yourself accountable as a Coach?

Right Answer – “I hold myself personally accountable as my Coachee and I work together on the agreed coaching agenda. This is reflected in my coaching agreement including the commercials.”

Wrong Answer – “My role as a Coach is to be there for the Coachee and I cannot be held accountable for the outcome as it’s up to the Coachee to put in the required effort to solve his or her issues. I am just a facilitator and no more.”

This has been a hotly debated point as many Coaches refuse to take ownership and consider themselves as a support structure for their Coachee. Please remember that a true Coach will never shy away from owning the responsibility or being accountable to his/her Coachee. I personally know Coaches (though very few and including yours truly) who charge their professional fee only by the change or the outcome and not on a standard and safer per-hour basis. Also, a true Coach will be extremely careful before taking anyone on board and may actually turn down quite a few prospects if he senses a person to be either uncoachable or unable to help in addressing the identified problem area. Don’t be offended or irritated if you find yourself in such a situation. Rather, you will do well to pursue/wait for such a rarity as it reflects the genuine and high integrity of the Coach.

Being a coach is just as important as being a doctor, an engineer, a chartered accountant, and so on. A coach is tasked with the role of changing a person’s life for the better and for long-term gains. They don’t talk to impress, rather they ask difficult questions that clients usually avoid. They are trained to bring their clients out of their comfort zone and into the space that leads to a successful life.

“If it’s raining preaching and failure stories in your coaching sessions, it’s not coaching.”

Do you have a coach who only blurts out interesting one-liners during the coaching session? Is your coach all about preaching and showering knowledge gained from his life’s failures?

He is definitely not a Coach!

Bring a real coach into your life because you are important as an individual and your actions will create a legacy. That legacy is what your coach will help you explore and execute as a leader. After all, this is your life and you deserve only the best, and that also involves hiring the right coach.

Lastly, make sure you do not hire a Corona coach or a coach who’s simply in for a secondary income or has nothing better to do with his/her free time. If you want to know what authentic, accountable and accredited coaches look like, visit our Best Executive Coach in India at Krescon Coaches.

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