Coaching Mythbuster: is “the older the wiser” still of relevance?

The first question we would like to debunk is what does the perfect coach look like? A man or woman with at least 20 years of experience under their belt with an impressive amount of degrees, an ex-CEO and preferably with “grey hair”. This sounds like the perfect description of a coach to have right? Well, it might tick some of your boxes, but when it comes to choosing a coach, what else truly matters?

From our experience and various findings, here are the key factors to consider when picking the right coach!

  1. Chemistry: Opening up to a stranger might feel daunting and if this is how you feel when meeting your coach for the first time, then you might want to reconsider your choice. Chemistry is a complex emotion. It’s this intuitive feeling that makes you say ‘we click’! And establishing that connection and ease is crucial for a successful coaching relationship.
  1. Trust: Once you found chemistry, this is the most important factor of them all. If you are going to spill your guts to a total stranger, make certain that your coach is trustworthy and transparent. One way to ensure that your conversations with your coach stays with your coach, is to confirm that they include a confidentially clause in their coaching agreement.
  1. Care: The reason why people succeed at what they do is because they care! To care is to feel concern or interest and attach importance to something. Your coach has to care about what is important to you! So how can you identify if your coach truly cares? Some of the cues to look for: 1) they listen l and give you the space to talk. The whole point is that you speak more than they do. 2) They hold YOUR agenda! They focus on what you bring to the session and not what they think it should be. 3) They champion you and challenge you to go after what you want.
  1. Credentials: Accreditation and certification will set your coach apart from the rest. To become a professional and practicing coach it is a must to go through a comprehensive training program and obtain a certification and accreditation from a reputable school and a coaching governing body. The most well-known accreditation body out there for coaches is the International Coaching Federation (ICF). ICF has set standards and a credentialing system to ensure that the coaching industry integrity is supported and persevered through these standards and programs to build credibility and trust. Although many coaches practice without being certified, hiring a coach who is will give you the assurance that this person has followed a structured and recognized method.
  1. Experience: Your coach should have a certain level of awareness of the area you would like to tackle. For example, if you want to hire an executive coach, looking at the years of professional experience is not the key. What you should look for, is someone with enough corporate exposure to make you comfortable. This will make your coach more relatable. However, keep in mind that he/she doesn’t have to be an expert in your role or industry to be effective.
  1. Smart: And we are not talking about IQ here. We are talking about being clever; and having the ability to understand the business you’re in even if your coach hasn’t got the same experience as you. You need to work with someone who is able to comprehend, in a very short time, the environment you navigate in.
  1. Process/Method: The right coach will be able to explain what their coaching process is, the tools used and methods applied. Ask all the questions you need from the get-go and understand what you are getting into. It is also important to note that coaching differs from consulting, advising, mentoring and counseling. A good coach will never tell you what to do, but instead will help you discover your own answers.
  1. Success stories: Make sure your coach has something to brag about! Past experiences and testimonials are important. If your coach is not keen on sharing his own experiences, run!
  1. Challenge: You’re not hiring a coach to remain in the status quo but to assist you in your growth. Your coach will push your boundaries, challenge and help you discover different perspectives and ultimately reach your goals.
  1. Choose wisely: Having a coach has a true long-lasting effect on a person’s life and/or growth. So, meet with more than one coach and ask them for a sample session. This will give you a chance to assess whether you would like to work with that person or not and give you a taste of what a session would look like. Picking the right coach is very personal and it’s not a 1 size fits all!

So here you have it folks! A coach is not supposed to “look” a certain way or qualify under “the older the wiser” profile to be competent. And yes, sometimes the older can be wiser; however, don’t forget that there are also many other criteria to consider in the quest to find the perfect coach. So our advice when it comes to choosing one? Use the above as a checklist and add whatever else is important to you to find the ideal match. And when in doubt go with your instinct, because you know what? It’s always right!

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