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"Finding a Coach"

Does Your Coach Pass the Test?

Matt M. Starcevich, Ph.D. , CEO Center for Coaching & Mentoring, Inc.

(For individual use only, not to be reproduced or used in any way without permission)

When you go looking for a coach, you are not looking for a clone of yourself-you've already got you. You are looking for someone who has experience or insight you don't have in dealing with a particular subject. A good coach can be found anywhere, in or outside of your present organization. Think about a specific coach, either one you have just started working with or one you are thinking about asking for coaching assistance. Your answers on the following ten-question quiz will determine if you have found the right coach for you.

Have you found the right coach?
1. The coach sees you as trustworthy, sincere, and wanting to learn. YES NO ?
2. The coach has a unique perspective or insight to offer. YES NO ?
3. The coach is willing to give of himself or herself and to help others. YES NO ?
4. The coach is easy to talk to and can be trusted. You do not feel vulnerable. YES NO ?
5. The coach wants to see you succeed. YES NO ?
6. The coach is a teacher, willing to help others grow and develop. YES NO ?
7. The coach expects to learn something during your time together. YES NO ?
8. The coach believes that you should grow out of the need for his/her help and would never use phrases like "You need me" or "I can help you get ahead." YES NO ?
9. The coach believes that you need to struggle and find your own way and would never say: "I know best". YES NO ?
10. You have a good feeling about working with this coach. YES NO ?
TOTAL ____ ____ ___

Scoring: If you have 10 YES's, you've found the perfect coach. Are there any perfect 10's? We know there are. Keep looking if you have checked any NO's or ?'s for your particular coach. Consider the following:

1. Your credibility. The coach has to believe in you, to be convinced that you are sincere, want to learn, and can be trusted. Your credibility is all you can offer in return for the coach's time and energy. Generally, this credibility comes from the coach having seen you in operation; you are not strangers. The coach considers you trustworthy; you have supported him or her in the past. Question 1.
2. The coach's credibility. Coaches cannot be of value unless they have a unique perspective and are willing to help. Although difficult, check out the coach's track record in helping others. Do they give of themselves? Do they value helping others? Do others find them easy to talk to? Do others value their perspective? Do you value their perspective? Can they be trusted? Questions 2 through 4.
3. A desire to see you succeed. A crucial distinction between your coach and other acquaintances is that the coach wants to see you succeed-not necessarily to advance or achieve monetary goals, but to achieve your potential, to be the best you can be. The ultimate payoff is that the coach will feel good about your success. Question 5.
4. The coach as teacher. We don't mean by profession. The issue is, does the coach enjoy seeing others grow and develop? Is he/she secure enough to be challenged? Good coaches don't create dependency relationships. They are happy when you can fly on your own. "You need me" and "I can help you get ahead" create unhealthy dependency/reciprocal relationships. Does the coach have the patience to allow you to discover both the questions and the answers or do you sense a need to always provide answers and tell others what to do? When first starting out in my career, I felt comfortable going to a wise manager for advice. Rather than explore the nature of my questions or help me to think things through he would always have a ready answer. At first this was comforting, until I discovered that I was doing things the way he would, not thinking for myself. Did I have convictions, beliefs, ideas? Yes, but this coach was not forcing me to develop them. My reliance on and relationship with this coach ended. Questions 6 through 9.
5. Your feelings. As a final test, trust your instincts. Does it feel right to work with this person? If you are uncertain about a potential coach, trust those uneasy feelings. If the information and guidance the coach is providing feels wrong, re-evaluate the coach. If you are uncomfortable with the guidance, you're not talking to the right coach. Question 10.

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