What’s One Quality All Great Coaches Should Have?
Ruthie: Rob, I have a lot of coaches in my network and I think you have a lot of great insight for them. I don’t know too many coaches that have been coaching for as long as you have, so can you give me one quality that you think a great coach should have?
As they’re moving forward and looking at their professional development, what’s one quality they really need to pay attention to?
Rob: Well, it depends on what they’re trying to do or what they’re claiming they can do for you. If there’s one universal quality, it should be honesty about who they are and what they can bring. Because there’s such a low bar of entry to coaching, so many people can just hang a shingle and say, “I’m a coach.”
Top Coach Quality: Honesty
Far too often, that’s somebody who’s recently lost their job, they’re 40-something, they’re back living with their own parents, they don’t know what to do with their own life and they can’t figure it out. And then they go, “Oh, I know! I’ll be a life coach.”
But they haven’t really worked it out for themselves. That would be a bit of a dishonest representation of their abilities. They can tell you what to do with your life, but yet they can’t manage their own.
There’s a lot of people selling money online and if you look at their books, they’re not actually making a lot of money. But they know that if they can get you to pay them, they could make a lot of money. All these big claims are oftentimes a bunch of half-truths or maybe completely false. So you want to be able to know that this person is really who they say they are.
Sometimes, You Just Need to Be a Couple of Steps Ahead
Do they have to be completely enlightened and evolved in every direction? Maybe not. As long as they’re coaching you on something where they’re just a couple of steps ahead of you, they can authentically say, “I may not know everything, but I know where that step is. So let me guide and help you.” I think they have to be honest about what they say they are, and they have to honestly want to help you.
People who may not be of the highest integrity are doing it because it’s a way for them to make money, and they don’t really care whether you get an outcome.
There’s definitely coaches out there who really care. Once I take on a client, I’m committed to their transformation; they’re not getting out of here without changing. I’m going to seal off all the exits. There’s no way through. If any of it’s difficult, I’m going to hold your hand through that difficulty so you can get through it.
However, I don’t think all coaches are doing that. You want to look for honest people who are earnest in their efforts to help you.
Ruthie: That sits well with me. If I’m even meeting coach, are they going to be honest? Are they the person who would look me in the face and be like, “Hey Ruthie, even though I know that you could afford me and that there are things I could help with, I don’t think I’m the best fit.” I have to be confident that you’d look at me in the face and say that.
Rob: Totally. That’s a great point.
How Can I Tell If a Coach Is Right for Me?
Ruthie: My next question was about determining whether or not the coach would be a good fit, but I feel like you already went into that.
Rob: Even if you’re certified, it almost doesn’t matter. Some of that certification stuff is not really that helpful, so I think testimonials go a long way. If you can actually see that other people are earnestly talking about their experience, that’s something to trust.
I think that if you can, you should be able to talk to them beforehand. You should be able to have a meeting with them and see if it’s a fit. Realize that there may be moments where you won’t like them, because there’s going to be a time when they might need to challenge you.
I think this happens in therapy a lot too; you get into this polite relationship where nobody wants to hurt anybody’s feelings. Part of the coaching context is calling you out. The client would also need to commit to not masquerading or lying to their coach.
You can also read testimonials that you can tell aren’t real, or that are cherry picked. Like they pick the one sentence, you know, and that’s the only thing that’s there. Can you follow up with those people? Does that coach have clients that are willing to talk to other people and recommend him? That’s not a bad thing to ask for. These are the things I think of when making a decision on who to invest in.
Ruthie: It is an investment, and if you’re going to make an investment, it’s important to do your due diligence. I hadn’t thought of talking to past clients who’d be willing to talk with me about their experience.
Should Buyers Beware of Beginner Coaches?
Ruthie: So what about new coaches? I feel like I meet a lot of coaches and sometimes it feels like a trap. Once they get even a whiff in the air that I’m looking for a coach, it’s like speaking to MLM people.
Rob: Oh yeah. I’m with you.
Ruthie: Not all of them like that, but a good number of them are.
Rob: Not all MLM people are horrible either, but we know what you mean. Once they get their hooks in, they won’t go away. They just keep following up, which is usually automated and won’t be dissuaded if you decline them. They’re also asking for referrals, and it can be really crazy.
It’s hard for me because I want to put out good content that’s helpful in the personal development space. But I look at my own content online and I think, “I wouldn’t want to follow me. What’s this? It’s just another meme and another positive thing.” And it feels so empty sometimes.
It’s just gross and everyone’s jumping on that bandwagon. Some of that is embarrassing to me because I realized some people are looking at me like that and just rolling their eyes. It’s just deeply annoying.
You Can Be New AND Good
To specifically answer the question about new coaches, there are all these warnings about them, but I think I was a pretty good coach out of the gate. People can get trained and be amazing. So I wouldn’t say avoid new coaches; you don’t necessarily need the oldest coach in the room. It goes back to that earnestness.
I coach a lot of coaches, and I love working with coaches when they genuinely want to help people. If they’re just there to make money, I get turned off. One thing I say to new coaches is that working with somebody is important.
You could be the best brain surgeon in the world, but you can’t do brain surgery on yourself. Sometimes we need to work with a therapist, have a good conversation with a smart friend in a bar, whatever. We need to get a different perspective to be able to see what we can’t see by ourselves.
Working with any coach, if they’re competent at all, is a positive thing to do. Even if you’re a beginning coach, just setting goals with somebody and then holding them accountable is good enough, redirecting their focus to what’s valuable.
But if they’re over-promising, that may not be as true. It just depends on who they are and what’s going on.
Check Testimonials to Match The Claims
Even experienced coaches might burn out, and not be able to bring the same energy later in coaching. Can you really sense that this person really wants to help me and is capable of doing what they say they can do?
If you’re making enormous claims about how big the transformation can be, I would start checking testimonials. I would start asking them to tell me how they’re going to do it.
Be careful though, because it’s an investment of not only your money, but your time and attention. If you waste that on somebody who’s a charlatan, you might be turned off from coaching in general. The most exceptional people in any field all have coaches: Michael Jordan, Bill Gates, etc. I’m a fan, just get the right one.
Ruthie: I think if you’re a newer business, that’s what you need; a person who’s going to hold you accountable. People might be thinking, “Why would I pay somebody to hold me accountable?” Well, if you’re not going to hold yourself accountable, then you’re not getting those tasks done.
As you mature as a business owner and entrepreneur, it can seem like, “Oh, I’m doing fine. I don’t need a coach anymore.” But if your goal is not to just coast along at “fine” for the next few decades, without a coach it may take you twice as long to get to the next level. You don’t want to waste any time.