Ultimate Guide To Coaching

Ultimate Guide To Coaching: Can Anyone Be A Coach? How To Find A Good Coach?

  •  
  • Coaching
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  •   by Richly Wills

  •  
  • Coaching
  •  
  •   by Richly Wills

  • In our modern times, coaching is more in demand than ever. Why is coaching so popular today and how to get the best out of coaching.

    In this ultimate guide to coaching for a 21st-century world, we will explore what coaching really is, whether you will benefit from getting coaching, the future of coaching, whether you have the right stuff to be a good coach yourself, what makes a good coach in today’s modern tech-led world, and where to find one.

    What Is Coaching? How Is Coaching Different To Mentoring, Teaching, Therapy Or Consulting?

    What is coaching? Well, it's a lot of things as this guide explores
    What is coaching? Well, it’s a lot of things as this guide explores

    Coaching can be defined as ‘a development focus where a coach who has experience within a specific field helps a client work out and achieve and specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance‘.

    A coach is not the same as a counselor though, who specialises more in helping someone with more emotional and mental blocks in life that are damaging their self-esteem. A coaches job is not to console and prod into underlying issues, so as much as a coach will aim to help you find the right direction in what you need coaching in specifically, they aren’t there to just listen to your problems, they are there to make something happen, to take action.

    Of course, a coach can act as a counselor at times, but their primary focus is on delivering action and results towards your goals, which is why finding a coach should be like zeroing in on a target.

    When finding a coach you should also understand how a coach isn’t a teacher or a consultant as such either.

    A mentor is also different from a coach. A mentor is someone to learn from, who has been there. With a mentor, you can be the student learning from the master, who shares their knowledge or wisdom and aims to help you grow and develop, but doesn’t go into a development program as such.

    A coach focuses more on the client’s goal and helps them reach that goal or realise their potential often through a coaching program or step-by-step ladder, as they are trained to assess and bring out the needs and skills of their client, and aims to help the client find their own solution rather than expecting them to just follow the coaches wisdom or advice.

    It’s more on bringing out the qualities of someone else rather than passing on the qualities of yourself as a mentor would.

    There are also differences in coaches to consultants and teachers.

    There’s a good brief article about the differences and similarities between a coach vs a consultant, but essentially a consultant works with clients on more technical aspects of specific expertise, whilst a coach helps people develop soft skills in many different areas of life.

    The difference between a coach and a teacher is in how a coach helps a client learn how to figure something out rather than teach them or tell them what is what. Of course, coaching can have times where some teaching is necessary but the aim is strickly to teach in of itself.

    Do I Need A Coach? How Coaching Can Help You

    Coaching (and mentoring) can help people achieve their goals
    Coaching (and mentoring) can help people achieve their goals

    Whilst this guide looks into different aspects of coaching and helps you figure out whether coaching is right for you, it’s worth starting with the fundamental benefits of coaching. Here are 5 strong reasons why you should consider getting a coach:

    1) To Help You Find Direction

    Essentially, the main reason to get a coach is to help you with something you don’t really know but which you need to know to help you achieve your goals.




    This can be in so many different areas of life, and as such we have coaches in many broad fields from life coaching, business coaching, elite executive coaching, productivity coaching, creative coaching, financial coaching, wellbeing coaching, motivational coaching, and even to more niched areas such as poker coaching and resilience coaching.

    In some ways, coaching opens up many doors to search through and at least one of those doors will lead you in the right direction.

    2) To Motivate You To Focus Or Make A Change

    We want to find direction in life often because we want to change our outlook or we struggle to focus, or we feel we don’t have time. Coaches keep us accountable and people hire a coach to ensure they are positively (and sometimes negatively) motivated to act.

    Coaching is all about taking action, but this doesn’t always mean physical action, it can also mean a mental change. In fact, much of coaching is really about our mental state and a coach will help you overcome doubts and implement skills you might not have the know-how or confidence to on your own.

    3) To Make You Accountable

    If we didn’t have coaches or mentors in life we would probably not get as far. Think back to school. We had teachers helping us learn. At work, we likely had colleagues or bosses to learn off, to begin with. We learn effectively on the job because there are other people to learn from, and with coaches and mentors we can push our minds to a new level of learning that is often hard to do on our own.

    It’s not to say it’s impossible on our own, but we would need to be very good self-motivators and most people aren’t. A coach is paid to make us accountable. If we don’t feel like something or feel like giving up, then a coach is there to make sure we do it. This is the winning mentality that coaches give you, and it helps you get from A to B a lot quicker than having to do everything on your own.

    4) To Help You See What You Would Miss Otherwise

    We all have blind spots. We all fall into certain ingrained biases and conditioning, and if we have been doing something the same way long enough then we will likely live on autopilot. A coach can help us see what we are blind to and introduce a new approach to our stubborn minds.

    Even with our friends and family we likely fall into the same channels of habits and communication (below). A coach is like having a second mind, in that they will pull us out of our first mind’s set ways and make us look at something differently.

    5) To Improve Our Communication Skills

    We often mistake communication as simply being ‘we talk they listen’, but it’s two ways, and beyond that, there’s verbal and non-verbal. Without a coach, we couldn’t see what we are good at and not so good at, so having a coach gives us the opportunity to improve our communication skills.

    To get the best out of coaching we have to become attentive listeners, and these listening skills can then be transferred to be used in other areas of our lives.

    Can I Or Anyone Become A Coach? How Has Coaching Changed In A Tech-Led World?

    There's a 66% chance I'll grow up and be a coach!
    There’s a 66% chance I’ll grow up and be a coach!

    Coaching (and mentoring) is not a regulated profession so it means anyone can, technically, become a coach, but in reality, there’s a reason why not everyone would be good at coaching.

    Without regulation, the coaching industry can continue to boom, and it has. The online coaching industry is worth billions of dollars today and coaching is the second fastest-growing industry worldwide.

    It’s not too surprising really when you consider how today’s tech-led world has provided more opportunity for coaches and coachees to connect, and with a much more comfort-led world people start looking into self-awareness more, so much so that 94% of millennials have said that they would be willing to invest monthly on self-improvement. 

    However, there is a downside to a lack of regulation as it means anyone can just seek coaching as another income stream without actually building the skills to become a good coach. It almost becomes a buzzword that people affix to their CV without any real idea of what it takes to become a good coach.

    For better or worse people care about themselves more than ever (better for health and human development, worse for a potentially inflated ego), and this has driven the coaching boom, alongside a pandemic that has shown how jobs don’t last for life and both investing in yourself AND developing a more flexible portfolio career can reap more benefits.

    The Future Of Coaching

    Asimo impressed us with backflips but will robots be coaching people in the future?
    Asimo impressed us with backflips but will robots be coaching people in the future?

    In 2022, it seems this growing trend in coaching will continue further, with the future of coaching pointing to more demand for coaching amongst everyday people (and not just business elites), more niched coaching, such as sub-branches of the health, finance, work, and life coaching sectors.

    For example, there will likely be a boom in retirement coaches who help a growing number of baby boomers deal with retirement challenges, and adaptability or innovation coaches who help people deal with a fast-changing world in technology or future innovations.

    There could be more niched purpose coaches who help align clients to ensure they are finding work that is purpose-led and impactful in terms of helping the world in some way. With a big drive in ‘green’ jobs and net-zero targets over the next 10-30 years, this seems likely, especially when you consider people are starting to seek more purposeful living today, with jobs that provide impact and flexibility.

    With the technology available to us today, so many of us are now in a position to document our knowledge and share it from anywhere, rather than see it go to waste, which only makes the likes of coaching and mentoring more desirable to a flexible lifestyle.

    Another potential future implementation for the coaching industry could be a change in how coaches will either have to, or seek to, get accreditated as a professional coach. With such a growing industry then it doesn’t surprise, such is the potential for capitalising from accredited courses, but the main aim would be to separate the pretenders from the real deals.


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    Even if this is not forced on coaches then people may seek to become verified as to be highlighted within a growing crowd and potentially overly-saturated market (which will also lead more potential coaches to find more direct niches).

    Also, with the ease of remote coaching online it seems that more and more people will gain access to all types of coaches and coaching, with online coaching fast becoming preferred to face-to-face, although a mixture of both would arguably be the best balance in that coaching, like counseling, differs when online and in-person.

    What Makes A Good Coach?

    Good coaches are like personal superhero assistants.
    Good coaches are like personal superhero assistants.

    It takes a certain blend of personality and skills to be a good coach, and most good coaches share these common traits. Look for evidence or signals into these when selecting a coach, or if you are aiming to be a good coach yourself.

    1) Ability To Coach Their Skills

    It might seem obvious but while we all have knowledge and skills a good coach knows how to bring out those skills in other people.

    There are too many average coaches out there you think it’s just a question of having knowledge or even popularity (you can easily spot them, they talk about themselves all the time instead of focusing on methods to help others), but who don’t really know about training other people’s targets, or putting themselves in others’ shoes, which brings us to point two.

    2) Good Perceptive Skills

    A good coach possesses the ability to see the potential within you, to read you, and figure you out. This is not the same as judging someone in a label-defining way, but in perceiving your strengths and weaknesses in how you talk about your aims and how you act.

    By being able to see the difference within each client a good coach will be able to craft a tailor-made personal plan for each client.

    3) Good Personal Skills

    Would you want to be with a coach that you didn’t get along with? Likely not. Whilst there is an element of a coach pushing people and setting the facts straight, especially motivational coaches aiming to get their clients to accept action through shock tactic methods, you can easily see underneath that exterior as to whether the coach is a decent person who really cares about your progress, or is just in it for their own pay-packet.

    Of course, you want a coach who knows what they are talking about, but it’s equally important to ensure they communicate well, sometimes tell you how it is, sometimes listen, and are generally a decent person under the surface.

    4) Accessible & Organised

    Coaches can be busy people and may have to help many people simultaneously which means they need to possess another set of skills in how they manage their clients.

    If your coach isn’t open to contact all the time then that can be understandable, but if they never seem open for you (other than in the billable hour) then it could be a red flag. Coaches have lives too, of course, but even if it’s just through email a coach should have a channel whereby their clients can reach them to ask certain questions and a coach can answer back within an acceptable timeframe.

    Being organised also allows a coach to manage more clients effectively. If a coach only has one or two clients and feels overwhelmed then there’s probably some aspect of time management that the coach is lacking.

    5) Goal-Focused & Motivational

    Not every coach will come across like Mr. Motivator or Tony Robbins but almost all coaches have to be motivational towards their clients goals, albeit in their own style. It could be that one coach uses a drill sergeant approach, another a very soft and caring positive affirmation-led approach, and you’d likely find that you will find success with a coach capable of display both extremes at times, but no motivational push or follow up is another red flag.

    A good coach (or teacher for that matter) will feel good when your goals are achieved, as it means theirs are too. They won’t just quit on you when a goal is done, as milestones are incrementally built upon, and further goals are added.

    A good coach is someone who is both a big thinker who can help you layout and see the big picture with you, and someone who can get down to what needs to be done first, and who can help you cut out procrastination and time or energy sappers.

    6) Honest In Feedback

    A coach needs to be direct at times in order to help their client understand whether they are on track or missing something. Likewise, a client should be able to ask a coach for honest feedback.

    This means a good coach will be attentive to their client’s needs and their progress. A poor coach would just give generic feedback at best but to be a good coach you have to be wise towards the improvements and struggles of your client, and be able to help them in changing situations which brings us to the final point.

    7) Adaptable Coaching

    A good coach is someone who is balanced and adaptable. A client might have a changing circumstance or a ‘bad day’, or at times digress a bit, but a good coach will understand progress isn’t a constant upward curve but often a case of two steps forward, one step back, and therefore they have to be adaptable to the needs of the client on that day.

    Part of this adaptability is understanding that life happens. People are busy, and most clients who seek coaching tend to be in situations where they are professionally climbing ladders or have their own family to look after. Often a client seeks coaching because they want to progress quickly, and whilst a good coach should be able to explain that any skill takes time they should also be able to help their client adapt their coaching to work around their client’s life as seamlessly as possible.

    Who Are Well Known Coaches? And Does It Really Matter?

    Coaching is big business today. Ever since Thomas Leonard, a financial planner, popularised coaching in the 1980’s it’s grown year-on-year exponentially since. There are some very established coaches out there, no more so than Tony Robbins who makes billions from his position as a leading business and life coach, but there’s also plenty of coaches out there whose names are not known publically so much but who offer a whole array of different wisdom.

    But does it really matter though if a coach is well known or not?

    Yes and no.

    In some ways, their recognised status puts them in an instant circle of trust amongst other people.


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    We, humans, are survivalists and we tend to take the ‘popular’ choice because it says to us that this person had been vouched for and therefore must be trusted, and therefore I am safe with that person.

    However, that was arguably a wise and safe bet before the internet came along. In today’s world, a popular coach doesn’t necessarily mean a good coach, but just someone who has worked hard to find ways to be found online.

    They are arguably a good coach in SEO or in social media in this regard but are they a ‘good coach’? Maybe, maybe not. That will depend on whether they possess some of the key skills of a good coach (as mentioned above) and have expertise within their area.

    Yet, if truth be told, it doesn’t really matter today whether someone is well-known or not, what matters is if they are going to be able to help you in your needs. After all, you are likely paying for a coach (and no coach worth their salt will be doing everything for free), so you will want to ensure they are a good fit for you.

    Finding The Right Coach For You

    Find a coach who is the best fit for you. Which door will it be?
    Find a coach who is the best fit for you. Which door will it be?

    Coaching has long been a go-to profession once people have accumulated enough specialist knowledge and/or reputation within a field, but today with the internet, and especially since the pandemic and the resulting work from home lifestyle changes, more people than ever are both calling themselves a coach and looking for one.

    This creates both an overload of coaching options and also a goldmine of potential wisdom for each and every one of us to tap into.

    There’s also more than a fair share of coaching charlatans, simply because there are no barriers to entry and anyone can technically call themselves a coach in something, as mentioned above. However, if we can cut through the bull, so to speak, we can find that coaching is really a lot about a personal fit, a fit towards the situation and stage of progression we are at in life, and a fit towards the connection we develop with a coach.

    We might think of a ‘life coach’ as a cover-all-areas type of coaching, but when we search for a life coach we aren’t really pinning down what we really need. Sure, we might not know what it is we really need, and therefore hope a life coach can help us work it out (and a good coach will help you work that out).

    Of course, a good coach knows how to make the job easier for you to work out what. They know it is essential to make a goal both understandable and attainable.

    A general life coach might be too broad in their approach giving too much generic advice such as ‘believe in yourself’ or ‘work hard’. Most people know that should be a given already and you don’t need a coach to teach you that, but a good coach will instead keep that motivational message and goal in mind and help you drill towards a more tangible and personal goal, helping you both figure out that goal and work towards it.

    However, it’s worth noting, working with a coach shouldn’t feel like a one-off need where the end result is ‘they will transform my life for me’.

    Coaching is very much a help-in-hand arrangement, similar (but still different) to mentoring in that a coach will help you bring out your qualities and understanding, but you still have to be willing to put in the work to implement what you are being coached.

    Finding the right coach for you requires more digging than just searching ‘life coach’ and picking whoever turns up. You can try it this way but no coach is going to solve the world in one session, so if you did try coaches out then you might not really go deep enough to figure out which coach is really right for you.

    Instead, you need to give thought to what you need from a coach, what area you are struggling with or want to improve in and to give it time. You will likely work out whether a coach is just a bit of a generic bullshitter or not pretty early on though, so if you smell a rat then, sure, get out and save yourself the bother, but otherwise trust the process and you will find there are many good coaches around who might fit your needs.


    Richly helps individuals and teams ‘get out the box’ each day to ‘create change’ so people can build the skills that will help them craft purposeful lives that have a positive impact on the world. Get out the box coaching today.