Bill Abbate

Have you noticed how many people call themselves coaches lately? Especially life coaches? They seem to be popping up everywhere, but beware! It is far too easy for anyone to call themselves a coach. Yet, many are dubious without proper training or certification.

You can add the title coach to your LinkedIn profile or resume, but that doesn’t mean you know a thing about being an authentic coach.

Let’s look at professional coaching and what it can deliver.

Defining coaching

Coaching is a relatively young profession and is different from centuries-old sports coaching. So you know, this article is not meant for self-promotion as I am retired. The following consists of my opinions about coaching after serving many clients for thousands of hours. Before starting my coaching practice, I invested considerable time and money in training and certification on a University course accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF.)

The ICF was founded in 1995 and is the largest independent certification organization for professional coaches. Several other organizations certify professional coaches, and like ICF, they require rigorous training and a certain amount of experience. They also set high standards to become certified and maintain certification. Yet there are also too many certification mills that do not do the coaching industry justice.

While there are a variety of coaching specialties, for our purposes, we will discuss two basic categories — life and business-related coaches.

“Coaching works because it’s all about you. When you connect with what you really want and why — and take action — magical things can happen.” Emma-Louise Elsey

If you look up “coach” in a dictionary, it is unlikely you will find a definition for modern life and professional coaching. One of the best definitions for coaching is from the ICF as follows:

“ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” ICF Website

A coach provides services different from a mentor, therapist, counselor, or consultant. A trained professional coach is a skilled individual who holds high standards to ensure results, hence the need for rigorous training and certification.

According to the reputable Co-Active Training Institute (CTI), a professional coach holds the coachee (the person coached) as “Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole.”

A professional coach walks beside and with you, not in front or behind you during your coaching journey. Experienced coaches suspend judgment, have excellent listening skills, and ask insightful and powerful questions. They help you better understand yourself and see beneath the surface and behind the words you speak.

“Coaching is a unique process of human development, one that works to change a person’s life for the better and help him or her achieve a number of specific objectives.” Ian Berry

Benefits of Coaching

Professional coaching provides numerous benefits, some of which include:

  • Building greater self-awareness
  • Helping you change or modify behaviors
  • Uncovering blind spots
  • Improving relationships and relational skills
  • Developing and increasing emotional intelligence
  • Enhancing various strengths
  • Perspective building
  • Increasing leadership abilities and presence
  • Increasing productivity
  • Clarifying values
  • Creating a vision for your life
  • Identifying, reducing, or eliminating the effects of self-imposed limitations
  • Seeing and understanding reality

While there are other benefits to being coached, those above clearly show many advantages to serious coaching.

“Executives and HR managers know coaching is the most potent tool for inducing positive personal change, ensuring better than average odds of success and making the change stick for the long term.” The Ivy Business Journal

Hiring a coach

You must be selective in choosing a coach. Since this is still a relatively young profession and almost anyone can call themselves a coach, some due diligence is in order. Many “coaches” are consultants, mentors, counselors, or therapists who add coach or life coach to their bios, LinkedIn profiles, and such. Yet many of these have no formal coach training or certification.

Before parting with your hard-earned money, some questions are in order. Ask where they received their coach training and check out the organization to ensure it is legit. Also, ask them if they are certified, maintain their certification, and who the certifying organization is. Again, check the certifying organization online for its legitimacy.

Many coaches are ICF certified, and you can hardly go wrong hiring one of them, but be very careful of other organizations.

“Simply put, Coaching is where you work with someone to connect with yourself, redesign your environment and your life, and then take action to implement it!” Emma-Louise Elsey

Reasons to consider using a coach

There are nearly as many reasons to hire a coach as there are people. Consider hiring a coach if you have something or some area you want to improve, personally or professionally. Remember, coaching is about the coach walking alongside you. They are typically not teaching, leading, or otherwise influencing your decisions. A few reasons to hire a coach include such things as:

  • Gaining a better understanding of yourself
  • Improving self-confidence and self-image
  • Improving leadership abilities and skills
  • Improving self-leadership
  • Improving personal relationships
  • Improving working relationships with subordinates, colleagues, bosses, or others
  • Improving your abilities to learn and grow
  • Improving emotional intelligence
  • Improving personal, professional, or executive presence
  • Getting a handle on your finances
  • Improving skills (not the skills themselves, but your attitude, inspiration, and other things that prevent or help you build a skill.)
“Everyone needs a coach, whether it’s a top-level executive, a graduate student, a homemaker, a homeless person or the President of the United States.” Anthony Robbins

Final thoughts

The coaching profession is enjoying tremendous growth because of its many quantifiable benefits for clients. I hope this article inspires you to look at personal coaching to help you improve your life and accelerate your career.

A good coach can help you forever change your life with vastly improved results! I leave you with some final words to inspire you to investigate coaching for yourself.

“Coaching helps you to take responsibility for your life, let go of what others think and become your true self. It’s about you creating the life that you want — and deserve.” Emma-Louise Elsey

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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