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So, you want to step into the role of leader? You hear having a professional coach will help you leap into leadership.  You also hear the ROI for picking the right coach can be over 600$. The problem is, you don’t know how to pick a coach.

Every smart professional curious about hiring a coach asks, how do I choose a coach? What will happen when working with a coach?  How long should the coaching process take?

Let’s tackle these questions and help shatter the mystery about professional coaching. This post is part one of a two-part series about picking a coach and understanding what to expect.

Choosing a Coach

Choosing a coach is about selecting the professional that partners with you to achieve goals.  A coach helps you make relevant changes.  So, what is the smart way to weed through the many coaches that all say they can help?

First, be very curious and ask questions. You are on the hunt to identify with a person with whom you have rapport, trust, excellent communications, listens carefully, provides a different perspective, keeps information confidential, problem solves, and demonstrates a strong track record.  How do you find out these things?  What questions should you ask and why do the answers matter?

Asking questions provides critical information about the coach’s skills and background. Your dialogue will show their communications style and check if you have chemistry.  Here are five important questions to ask any prospective coach and why the answers matter.

  1. What is your professional work experience and how long have you been a coach? A coach with real-life leadership experience knows what questions to ask to open your mind to leader insights. A less experienced coach may eventually get you to your goals but why waste time and money?
  2. Why do you coach and what your philosophy about your role as a coach? This question reveals their motivation and approach to coaching. You want to know if they tailor their coaching to you or if they have a set program.
  3. What are your credentials and what certifications, or training have you received to be a professional coach? Look for a professional with recognized accreditation by reputable certification bodies such as the International Coach Federation (ICF). Certifications show they have invested in the profession and demonstrated required skill and adherence to a code of ethics. Certifications require strict client confidentiality.
  4. What is your success rate with your clients and how did you help them? Listen for a balance of confidence and humility. The coach can only help clients be successful if the client works hard to make critical changes. Some clients make the necessary effort, and some chose not to. If they say 100% success, ask how they measure success. Success metrics should be relevant to you.
  5. What are the coaching options that you offer? (telephonic, live online video, face-to-face) Today, coaching takes place via the phone, live online video and face to face. Do they offer recordings of your sessions?  How you communicate will help you see what tools and resources you want and need. the different options usually drive a different price point for the engagement.

Bonus Question:  Ask for an initial complimentary session. Experiencing the prospective coach’s approach and style will help you determine if she or he is a fit for you.  Many coaches with provide an abbreviated complimentary initial session. Coaches will also look to see if you are ready to make a change before taking you as a client. Coaches want motivated clients.

What’s next?

If you recognize a great connection, the coach answered your questions to your satisfaction; they have real-life expertise and training, and you experienced a motivating initial complimentary session, you could have a skilled prospective coach.  So, what’s after the match?

Watch for the next post in this series to help you see what the coaching process includes and helps you forecast how long you will need a coach.

Share your thoughts about this post in our comments or contact Karen Mildenhall directly at


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