How to Find the Right Coach for You


This is all about how to find the right coach for YOU. If you’re reading this, it is because you are curious and perhaps even committed to investing in your future. And, that is always a good thing!

So, what you’ll find here is a process that will guide you through choosing the best coach for your unique needs, personality and situation.

Firstly, let’s dive into questions that will get you started. How do you know if hiring a coach is right for you? Moreover, what kind of value do people actually get from working with a coach?  What exactly do coaches do?  Specifically, where do you start to scope out the right fit in a saturated coaching industry?

Truly, all good questions.

The Saturated Coaching Industry

To better understand the exploding coaching industry, Harvard Business Review conducted a survey of 140 leading coaches a few years back.  When asked to explain the healthy growth of the coaching industry, people quite simply said that clients keep coming back because “coaching works”.

Yet, survey results also suggested that the industry is fraught with conflicts of interest, blurry lines between the role of coaches and what should be left to mental health professionals, and sketchy mechanisms for monitoring the effectiveness of a coaching engagement.

This survey dates back to 2009 so undoubtedly, many of these negative findings have been rectified through more stringent regulation, training and certification.

In fact, the coaching industry is now a billion-dollar industry.  And the world is calling for coaches in every sector, in every corner of the globe.  So, there must be something there.

Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring

Finding a support system in this ever-changing world can be instrumental in providing advice and guidance. There are more resources than ever before but coaching and mentoring are two helpful tools to move you forward.  In fact, these two terms are often used synonymously despite the fact that there is a clear distinction between them.

Specifically, a good coach guides a client to set specific goals, helps them get clear on what they’re capable of doing in order to achieve them and then facilitates the client to self-generate the desired results. 

On the other hand, a mentoring relationship is more of an advisory role, whereby the mentor shares their experience and wisdom.  The mentor is quite often an expert in a field, industry or perhaps an internal resource in a company.  Their role is to share best practices that have worked for them. They offer answers whereby a coach asks questions that can potentially challenge individuals to change their behaviour.

Another option that can often work well is peer mentorship, usually in the form of a group environment.  Mentor groups provide a format to work through challenges, gather advice and share best practices. As a result, the goal is to bring on successful results while avoiding the pitfalls of bad decisions and steep learning curves.

So, how do you decide? It starts with understanding what you expect from the process.   If you need information specific to your industry and simply want answers to your questions, perhaps a mentor is the best solution.  Conversely, if you’re more interested in a journey that will help you set specific goals with guidance to achieve them or accountability if you don’t, a coaching relationship could keep you on track. 

Or, perhaps there is another solution?

The Coach-Mentor Blend

At the risk of ruffling industry feathers, some coaches use a blended form of coaching, mentoring and consulting. Certainly, it can be seen as ‘breaking the rules’ and even as trampling on ethics adhered to within the coaching industry.

However, it is actually the versatility of coaching that has often lead to confusion over its outline and scope. What should never be compromised is that it needs to be an equal, respectful and trusting partnership between coach and client. Also, it must always work to the client’s interest in learning and outcome, with no judgmental interference from the coach.

Sounds easy, right? But it’s not. Sometimes, coaches don’t know how to honour coaching principles, weave in mentorship when suitable and most importantly, as is acceptable to the client.

Many may cringe at this blended approach to supporting clients with coaching and mentoring. Admittedly, it is a fine balance where the coach’s ego needs to be invisible. That takes solid coaching skills, proven experience and a style that can deliver a rich holistic approach to the client. Lastly, it requires open dialogue with a client and willingness from them to embrace this particular style.

Full disclosure: I’ve been using the coach-mentor blend for years and it works brilliantly for the right clients. However, I had to work on coaching techniques and effective questions before using this blended approach. And still, if it doesn’t work for the client, the coach needs to be ready to shift gears to get their clients where they need to go.

Is Coaching for You?

Let’s start by saying that hiring a coach because someone else told you to is NOT enough.  The benefits of coaching are as wide-ranging as the individuals involved. Everyone’s needs and solutions are unique and as a result, it’s hugely important to do your research to find your ideal road map.

When I asked some of my clients how coaching positively impacted them, here are just some of the benefits they shared.

  • Guidance to determine specific goals and create a plan to achieve and assess results.
  • A champion and advisor to help launch or grow their business, complete with strategies and direction.
  • Became more self-reliant and confident in making good decisions and quieting their inner critic.
  • Gained more career and life satisfaction with the ability to prioritize self-care so they were happier in life.
  • Broke through self-limited barriers: unhooked from the need for praise and the sting of criticism, learned to say no, dropped self-guilt and self-doubt, let go of perfectionism, moved beyond fear.
  • Took greater responsibility and accountability for actions and commitments.
  • Worked more easily and productively with others (boss, direct reports, peers).
  • Communicated more effectively and felt confident to get their point across, to better negotiate and  to trust in their inner wisdom.

That’s not to say you need all of the above but it is a good sample of the benefits of coaching.  Above all, a good coach can teach you new ways of thinking and operating, new skills that will allow you to better reach your goals and create the career or business you want. 

Likewise, they can often see things that you can’t see about yourself.  Who amongst us can’t benefit from that?

How to Find the Right Coach for You

One of the things that people often don’t put enough emphasis on is finding the right fit.  Admittedly, a good coach can most certainly walk you through the process to assess suitability but let’s face it, they want your business.  Therefore, doing some preparation prior to connecting with a potential coach to assess will place you in good stead to get what you need.

But, where to start?

Here is a 7-step guide to find the right coach for you.

Step 1: Ask for referrals from people but take it further. 

It’s great to tap into your network for recommendations but delve deeper by asking those referring why they recommend this coach. Specifically, what were the results they achieved in working with them?  After all, it is far too easy to just throw a name out on social media. But, being more specific will give the recommendation substance if it’s warranted.

Step 2: Research their website and social media channels. 

Do you like their voice and the language they use?  Next, does their bio describe the type of person that you would trust to guide you through this journey? Make a list of questions to ask them as you browse their website? Below, step #4 has some great questions to add to your list.

Step 3: Reach out via email to request time for a conversation. 

Don’t just exchange emails to assess whether this coaching relationship will work.  An actual conversation will get your questions answered. As a result, you’ll get a feel for their communication style and get what you need to make the right decision.

Step 4: Come armed with your questions

You will want to weave in your unique needs, even if just basic concepts. For example, what are you hoping to achieve from a coaching relationship?  Launching a new business or growing an existing one?  Or, to acquire tools and strategies to better balance your professional and personal priorities?

Here are some questions to assess a coach’s experience, style and successes.  How long have you been coaching?  What other career experience have you had? As well, can you describe your clients – demographics, type of business they are in, etc. Most importantly, what pain points do you help them solve?  How do you know if you are successful with a client?  And, what tools and resources do you use to help clients?  How would you describe your coaching style? Of course, you don’t have to drill the person but choose questions that will enable you to make the best decision.

Step 5: Give the potential coach their turn to ask you questions. 

To illustrate, one of my clients described a previous failure with another coach that simply didn’t understand their goals, products or business model.  So, while a coach shouldn’t be expected to know all that from the get-go, they should be prepared to assess how they can create impactful results for you.  Their questions should give you a comfort level that if you proceed, they will put full effort into researching your business, understanding and respecting your unique goals (without bias) and offering guidance with full commitment to your success.

Step 6: Assess.  

Next, did you feel comfortable with them as a potential coach?  Do you feel that you will trust them?  And above all, do you have confidence in their commitment to confidentiality, expertise and style?

Step 7: Follow Up.

Finally, it may be crystal clear that this coach is a great fit or you may have follow up questions.  Either way, connect again to move forward or not – leaving behind gratitude for taking the time to explore the possibilities.

The Secret Sauce to Guaranteed Results

On the whole, this process can (and should) be a leap of faith to some degree. Of course, you want to ‘click’ with your coach and trust them to guide you. However, it’s okay to be uncertain as you embark on this journey.  Above all, the ability to adjust is a cornerstone quality of a good coach.

One of the shifts that I see with my most successful clients is when they switch to a place of trust and expansiveness.  So, what does that mean?  Certainly, they let their guard down and go with the flow. As a result, they open up to solutions and mindset growth.

Most Importantly, a great coach will recognize this shift and alter their methodology to suit that client. Indeed, the bottom line is that it creates a rewarding experience that ensures the end result that you, the client seeks – whether you knew your desired outcome at the beginning or not!

In the end, if you’re looking to learn, make some changes, explore solutions and carve a path that will showcase your strengths and increase your happiness and success, a coach could be a cheerleader and partner in your journey.


I’D LOVE TO KNOW: Have you hired a coach before?  Did you follow a process to find the right fit?  Also, what were your biggest wins from that coaching journey? I’m always keen to learn more so share anything that might be missing in this blog?

Finally, I love questions so if you’d like to ask me anything (maybe using the steps from this blog), reach out for that discussion anytime.

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