Who’s a good coach?
Most of us have availed some form of coaching in our lives; this could be by having a swimming instructor, fitness trainer, business coach, life coach, etc. While our reasons for having a coach may vary, the goal of every coach is one i.e. to ensure results. Besides providing results, the coach’s responsibility is to empower the coachee (the person being coached) in such a way that they can provide continuous results for themselves over a continuous period.
As I continue to coach entrepreneurs across distinctive industries, I have learned and continue to discover aspects that make a good business coach. I am sharing some of my key learnings:
1. Have clarity towards the desired outcome- A coach wouldn’t be playing their role efficiently if they follow the same set of tried and tested methods to coach everyone. The tools a coach may use may be the same, but their application needs to be different depending on the outcome that is intended for each individual. The above statement is especially true for executive coaching as each entrepreneur’s needs, aspirations, challenges, and personalities are different. The only way to figure out the right method for coaching each person is to first understand the desired outcomes and then be flexible in the approach to accomplish those outcomes.
2. Walk the talk- As digital learning platforms continue to grow, getting a certification of a trainer or coach in any field has become a child’s play. You can go online, register for a program, and voila! you’re a certified trainer. One of the most outlandish programs I came across was giving certification of being a ‘life coach’ after viewing 30 hours of online videos. Imagine working with a life coach who hasn’t resolved his/her life and relationships issues or getting trained by a fitness trainer who is overweight or a business consultant who has never worked on the shop floor, but is advising on cost savings methods to the plant heads.
Coaches can add value only when they have mastered the methods they are teaching. If a coach hasn’t undergone the practices he/she is teaching, then he/she will not be able to relate to the challenges the coachee may face at the time of implementation. This, in turn, will lead to poor results. Besides, do we have a moral right to preach something that we have not implemented in our lives?
3. Should know their limitations- One of the biggest blunders coaches do is to portray themselves as being experts of something they don’t know. Some of you must have come across fitness trainers claiming to be yoga teachers or dieticians as well, only to realize later that they are not experts in those matters.
What stops a coach from accepting that he or she does not know a particular subject? Essentially, it is the fear of losing the client. However, as clients, we all respect our trainers when they are upfront about the things they are aware of and aren’t. Accepting that one doesn’t know something in depth will only increase the confidence of the client in the coach being self-assured of delivering what he/she knows well.
4. Remain a coach- A Coach’s primary goal is to work closely with the coachee to achieve the desired results. In the world of executive coaching, where the coach and the entrepreneur are working intimately, it is natural for the entrepreneur to seek guidance in areas of personal growth. While guiding, the coach must be conscious of the role he/she is playing and is supposed to play in the entrepreneur’s life.
For instance, a mentor is one who helps people transform their lives through the process of realizations. One can only mentor when one has resolved one’s life. Again, Coaches may be excellent at the skills they possess, but if they decide to walk on the path of being a mentor, then they must work on their ‘self’ first. It is essential to understand that while a mentor shows the way, a coach’s job is to help walk the path.
5. Be a friend- One of the best aspects of being a business coach is that you get to make great friends. You can share your experiences with entrepreneurs and be a part of their experiences as well. This involvement leads to a high level of trust, mutual respect, and comfort between the business coach and the entrepreneur. However, a coach can only attain this level when he/she operates from the attitude of being a ‘friend’ and not a ‘coach’ per se. Coaching cannot work if there is a teacher-pupil relationship; it can only work well when there is a peer to peer relationship. In my life, the most effective coaches have listened intently and given the right advice, not the one I wanted to hear; they have dared to push me and comfort me; be there for me at odd hours – primarily been a true friend whom I can count upon when I need them.
6. Is devious– Though coaches are supposed to be friends, they are there for a purpose – to help the coachee achieve the desired results. Sometimes my fitness trainer makes me exercise for a longer time by hiding the clock as he knows that I would mentally give up after 45 mins or so. He would also keep my 2.5 years old daughter occupied so that I can focus on my workout.
Usually, entrepreneurs tend to get distracted owing to several activities that happen in their organizations daily. This distraction tends to delay their progress on the goals for which they hired a coach. To combat this delay, I identify people who exercise maximum emotional influence – co-founders, partners, spouse, children, friends, etc. – in the life of the entrepreneur. I build relationships with them, too, so that they keep me updated on the life state of the entrepreneur, allowing me to pre-empt challenges that may arise to provide proactive assistance to manage their lives and businesses better.
7. Is empathetic – Being able to empathize is a significant human trait, but as a coach, it is even more imperative to be able to empathize with your coachee. It is essential to understand that people hire a coach as they need someone to make them accountable. Once a coach takes up the role of making the learner responsible for their actions, the scope for sympathy disappears. Therefore a best business coach needs to be sensitive and at the same time, not let the entrepreneur lose focus of the larger picture and encourage them to keep working on self and the organization.
8. Follows the learning cycle – While learning anything, we all go through a cycle of enthusiasm, disillusion, illusion, and empowerment. A coach can only be effective if they can identify the stage the learner falls in at a given point of time, as the support required at each stage varies. For instance, when a business professional is starting a new project and is all excited about it, the focus of the coach should be on getting the desired results than motivating the professional. On the other hand, if the business professional is developing doubts and disillusion, then the coach needs to motivate and help the professional accomplish smaller victories.
These are some of the attributes that have helped me become a better coach to entrepreneurs and business professionals. I hope that this list will help individuals to identify an effective coach and help my peer coaches to understand the traits of a good coach.
Also read – Your Lust Can Destroy Your Business!