As we navigate our businesses, our teams and ourselves through change, we are often bombarded with advice, statistics, facts and fiction on how best to take us forward.

When I was a practice owner, finding the right kind of help was not a straightforward process. One thing I discovered is that it wasn’t enough just to find someone who felt right, although that was part of the jigsaw. I wanted more.

I always knew, for example, that I wanted someone helping me who had experienced and overcome the same challenges I faced. I also wanted someone who would not simply stroke my ego and tell me how good I was, but also challenge me and hold me to account.

Track Record

Results often speak louder than words, although often someone who knows nothing about your business might help with bringing in new perspectives. Understanding what your coach or mentor has or has not done, the successes they have delivered, and their failures will all help you to decide if they are a good fit.


It is important to know what training your coach has received. You may wish to work with someone who has experience, but also you may wish to understand the nature of their training and whether, for example that training is accredited. Just as vital is whether they have continued learning and deepened their skills.

Life-long Learners

A coach who is a committed to learning and developing their own knowledge will ensure they remain relevant in today’s changing world. Ongoing training matters. You will likely encounter people who were trained once – often some time ago. They may have a foundation to build on, but it’s critical to find a coach who is constantly training and growing.

The Team

There are many talented individuals in the world, but there are few, if any, who are experts in everything. Coaches come in all shapes and sizes; each will have certain skillsets and, dare I say, limitations. This is the case whether we are focused on business, executive, crisis, life or personal coaching.

It is essential that your coach can recognise when they are outside of their area of expertise and need to refer you on, or help you find someone to continue working with you. It is especially important when this may require expert help involving trauma or personal relationships. It is important that your coach understands this and will not try to keep you as their client either because they want to continue to support you, or they simply do not wish to lose a client.

Coaches who work as part of a team are able to draw on the skills, insights and experiences of their colleagues in order to maintain the quality and integrity of the service.

Tools & Resources

The range and depth of resources the coach has at their disposal will either enable your growth or potentially be the limits of your growth. If you know from the outset the systems, processes and tools they have available, you have a better chance of understanding what is truly possible.


Trust is a non-negotiable and essential ingredient in any coaching relationship. Trust builds over time and begins when we first connect with someone. Understanding what signs to look for will help you choose a coach where high trust will be maintained. Referral is by far one of the best ways to find the right coach. Have they already worked with others to accomplish the results or goals that you are looking for and will their existing clients be comfortable making a personal recommendation?


Chemistry is not the same as trust but is altogether a more subtle and subjective element. Conversations with your coach will often be frank and open, with vulnerability a key factor. A strong, honest, and open rapport is required if you are to genuinely accomplish what you are looking for.

It takes two

Selecting the right coach is a two-way process. While you’re trying to decide if the coach is right for you, a good coach is also trying to decide if you’re right for them. You’re in what you could describe as a mutual selection process.

A good coach will make sure you are going to be as committed as they are and will be looking for honesty and a willingness to take action to change. They will need to see you are prepared to focus on the process and prioritise their time to work on themselves. They will also need to know that you are open to change or to exploring different ways of doing things.

Are You Ready?

The final and most important question is: are you ready to make the change? Sometimes coming to the conclusions that you need to change may take months even years. You will know when that time comes because you will know that the waiting needs to stop and the first step needs to be taken.

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