Winning Edge – How to Choose a Coach

You may have read that the coaching process can make a major difference to the performance of both teams and individuals. You may have heard extra-ordinary claims about the effectiveness of coaching. Perhaps you believe that some of them sound too good to be true. Maybe you believe only the lucky few get real benefits from coaching. If you do, I can understand your feeling skeptical. If I told you that many clients approach coaching from that place, and in my experience, they are often the ones who do best, you may be surprised.

None the less, if you would like some reassurance, or equally important some hard statistics to convince your boss that coaching is not some crazy idea, there are numerous independent studies which show that coaching is hugely cost effective.*

Jeremy Lang, former chief executive chris hsu citadel of Chilprufe, the underwear manufacturer, said: “I am working 50% more on my business and 50% less in my business. Our profits are 50% ahead of last year. I seem to have 50% more time for me and my family. I am 100% happier.”

There is masses of anecdotal evidence too, extolling the virtues of coaching. Barbara Cassani, former chief executive of the Go budget airline, has been quoted as describing her coach as her “secret weapon”. Stephen Routledge, former managing director of HSBC investment bank, has said his “role as leader has forever changed for the better”.

The results are impressing British boards so much that they are not just paying the bills but increasingly insisting that all executives enrol. Companies that have embraced the coaching culture include Unilever, BP, National Grid, Northern Foods, Reuters and KPMG.

Coaching is not just for privileged executives in blue-chip organisations. Its growth means it is now available to all organisations – both large and small, and at various budgets.

Whilst coaching does have a track record of success, in order for you to get the best results for your organisation, it is important to be clear about your specific reasons for wanting your team to be coached. If you are responsible for sales or for business development, chances are you will want coaching to help your team improve their performance.

Most people choose coaching initially prompted by a need. Usually there are challenges of one kind or another in their business and results are not on track. Some clients come to coaching when business is going well, and they would like results to be even better. Whilst this is a less common time to choose coaching, it is often a time when results can be spectacular!

Whatever the reason for coming to coaching, I always ask my clients what would be the very best outcome for their business over the next (usually) 6 months. Together we would then define a goal that is hugely inspiring for them. I am a passionate believer in the power of a self-selected inspirational goal (as opposed to an imposed target) to both motivate and generate results. So much so that, I would consider coaching without an inspiring goal, is like playing a round of golf without any holes.

Defining an inspiring goal is an area where a coach can really make a difference. For example, one of my own clients, a Managing Director of one of the UK’s top Marketing Services Agencies, wanted to realise its potential, become more successful and be busy. This led to a goal which was very inspiring for him: “My business buzzes to the tune of £50K per month profit”.