What to look for when there are so many choices available

It can be tough to pick a coach. Getting it right will liberate you from your current thinking patterns, making the problems you have today appear very different. Getting it right means solving a problem today in a way that is less likely to cause other problems down the line. Getting it right means you’ve spent your money, and your time, wisely.

Getting it wrong though can mean you waste precious time and money. Getting it wrong can cause more problems than it solves. Getting it wrong can, in fact, be damaging to the the way you think, and ultimately damaging for your business.

So what should you be looking for?

There are two key things that a make a coaching relationship successful, both equally important:

The first is your relationship with your coach1, what is known as the therapeutic alliance. From your perspective, this means that you are looking for someone who:

  • you can connect with
  • is trustworthy and makes you feel safe
  • is skilled in what they do.

This relationship is not a one-way street however. This is why coaches often want to meet with you in advance so they can determine if you can work together.

Your part of the coaching relationship is equally important. You must be prepared to:

  • work collaboratively
  • co-create the coaching process
  • show up and actively participate.

The second thing is the coaches ability to coach you2. By this, I don’t mean their their qualifications, testimonials, or accolades. I’m specifically talking about their level of thinking, their level of Dynamic Intelligence, compared to yours.

© and used courtesy of Dr Darren Stevens

In a developmental undertaking, the coach or other professional must be at a higher level of Dynamic Intelligence than you, the client. They must be what is known as a More Complex Other.

If you are both at the same level, then no development is possible. There is no frame of reference within the coach for your higher level of meaning making. So, they can’t provide the scaffolding which will help you to develop; to increase your level of self-awareness. It’s just dialogue at this level, and why would you pay just to have a chat?

If the coach is at a lower level than you, then they may actually harm your thinking by ‘bringing you down’ to their level of thinking.

What does this look like in practice?

As an example of what this looks might look like, in my own coaching practice I ensure all of these things in place as follows:

Before I commence any kind of coaching relationship we have a 30 minute discovery session so that we can judge our suitability for one another. Does the client ‘connect’ with me, and believe they’ll feel safe working with me? Do I believe they’ll actively participate in a collaborative coaching relationship? And do I think I can help them, or should I recommend another coach or professional?

From a trustworthiness perspective, I am a member of the ICF and am therefore bound by their Code of Ethics3. Should I breach this code, the client knows they have a professional oversight body that they can refer to. Being a member of the ICF also means that the client can have confidence in my level of skill. The ICF has rigorous training and qualification standards. To qualify, I also needed to be assessed in person by a qualified assessor while I conducted a coaching session.

Finally, I know my own level Dynamic Intelligence™ (DI) and request that clients start any coaching relationship by getting an Identity Compass® profile so that they can understand theirs. My clients will then know both mine and their level of DI so they can have confidence that I can actually develop them. If I find that their level is higher than mine, I recommend a coach with a higher level of DI to them.

In summary

To summarise then, if you don’t want to waste your money (or worse, by actually paying to damage your thinking) then ensure that:

  • you connect with your candidate coach
  • you can can trust them
  • they can actually help you to develop.

If, after reading this, you think that I might be the right coach for you, then please get in touch to arrange a free discovery session.

1 https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2016-30467-001
2 https://pureportal.coventry.ac.uk/en/studentTheses/does-constructed-development-exist-as-a-conceptual-measure-of-sel (P380)
3 https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics

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