Lets leave aside the question of when do you need a business coach and skip to: How do you choose the right one for you?
I often hear comments by people trying to sell their coaching services that only current superstars in any profession have the right or capacity to coach others to excellence.
What I think all good coaches need to have is not the ability to perform particular activities well themselves, but the ability to bring to consciousness your performance on those activities so that they can help you improve. But – changing human behavior is a difficult thing. Thus, the profession of coaching has moved into the business world as the bridge between classical training, i.e. giving people new information about how to perform tasks and creating sustainable changes in behavior.
Coaching is about helping people move from ‘knowing’ to ‘doing’. That is a complex process.
A good coach – a coach that will give you the outcome of better performance – is one that is able to translate your current performance, which you may be unconscious of, into consciousness, then help you to improve from there. A good coach is someone who understands the psyche of the human being; how to guide people through change; how to support people through levels of insecurity and fear and doubt, all of which dominates the process of change and learning; who are able to guide you through that process, and bring to consciousness your abilities. Then they have a good long look at where you’re currently at, how much runway you have ahead of you (i.e. ability to change) and formulate a plan that has absolute clarity from your perspective about how to make changes in your current behaviors to create a performance improvement.
I often hear coaches selling their personal sales success as the key to being good sales coaches. You know, currently, the best blah, blah, blah in the whole planet, or, the most squirms of any human ever blah, blah, blah. Well congratulations on your personal success! But often these people are successful, but can they coach someone else? They may have a great natural grasp of their topic and they may have been on a journey of growth, maybe they’ve received support or good training from somebody else and they have merged all of those things together into a system that works really, really well for themselves. Their intuitive knowledge, their education, the support they’ve received from people around them whether that was from an official coaching process or just from the warm and the encouraging words of their peers or their parents or sometimes even the insults and challenges that they’ve received, that they’ve been able to rise and prove them wrong.
But, as a coach, how do you recreate that process to another person?
How we motivate ourselves, how we change, how we responded to fear, how we deal with the uncertainty, these are the things that stand in the way of our success. And what you want in a good coach is somebody who knows how to systematically guide you through your fear, uncertainty, confusion, boredom, irritation, etc.
You don’t need a coach who is good at the individual tasks but has no consciousness of how they got good at these things themselves. A good coach is someone who is conscious of how success comes, and thus will be able to guide you through change.
I’ve recently saw this awful caption of “Is your Coach yesterday’s Hero?” Meaning, have they been a great performer in the past but have long since lost their touch. First of all, I find that kind of thinking offensive and secondly, it’s actually irrelevant whether the coach is yesterdays or today’s superstar in the performance of the actual activity. It would be like saying that you can’t coach Olympic athletes unless you were yourself currently an Olympic athlete. Unless you hold the world record in breaststroke, you cannot teach, or more to point, coach to excellence a current star in the swimming pool.
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