Dr. D Ivan Young is an ICF Master Certified Coach specializing in innovative and research-based coaching for high-net-worth individuals.
High-level business coaching is a big investment. If you already have a coach, you’re probably dedicating thousands of dollars and weeks or months of your time to your work together.
A top-notch coach does have a cost, but the long-term payoff for this investment is priceless. With your coach’s expertise and support, you can start to overcome obstacles and reach your full potential — learning to listen and reflect more deeply, building effective approaches for problem solving, and developing new mindsets and actions for lasting behavioral change.
But not all coaches are on the same level. It’s important to assess your coach’s competence and credentials before getting too far along in the process. Are they an expert in their field? How exactly will they help youachieve the transformation you want? Are their services worth their fees? As with most things, you get what you pay for. Notable high-quality coaches cost more but provide more value.
Here are three essential elements that every good coach should have:
1. Evidence-Based Methodologies
Great coaches don’t simply throw ideas against the wall to see what will stick. They use methodologies grounded in research and practice. Ask your coach which methodologies they use and, more importantly, why. What is most effective about their particular approach? How has it had positive results for their clients?
Standard coaching methodologies include cognitive behavioral therapy, positive psychology, neurolinguistics, acceptance and commitment therapy, strengths-based therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy — and most professional coaches will connect with one or more of them.
For example, in my practice, I use a combination of positive psychology (reinforcing non-judgmental acceptance to cultivate strengths), acceptance and commitment therapy (managing problems realistically) and neurolinguistics (shaping language and thought processes to reach desired outcomes). Your coach should be able to explain their methodologies clearly and concisely.
2. Techniques Customized To Your Needs
A masterful coach partners with you to discover what’s going on beneath the surface, what it means and how it’s affecting you — while always staying focused on your ultimate goals. They don’t use a paint-by-numbers coaching template. Instead, they customize a color palette and tailor their techniques to fit your individual desires and needs.
Though there are many more, at a minimum, look for a coach who employs at least some of these foundational elements in their practice:
• Appreciative Inquiry
Your coach wants to understand why a particular issue is important to you. They help you take an in-depth look at a subject, without judgment, to examine your relationship with it. What does it mean to you? How does it affect you cognitively, emotionally or physiologically? Does it keep you up at night with worry or raise your heart rate with joy?
• Transtheoretical Model Of Change
Your coach helps you identify which stage you are in when it comes to making intentional change in your life. For example, if you’re considering making a career change, you might be in one of the following stages:
1. Pre-contemplation: “I’m not sure I even want to change careers. Why would I?”
2. Contemplation: “What if I did make the leap? I might, I might not.”
3. Preparation: “I think I’m ready to start looking at new opportunities.”
4. Action: “I’m going to do it. I have a call scheduled with a recruiter.”
5. Maintenance: “I’m actively searching for jobs and have laid out a six-month plan.”
Once your coach understands why this change is important to you, they can help you create awareness about where you are in the process, if you want to make a move and what it will look like.
• Motivational Interviewing
Your coach talks to you to dig deeper and gain more clarity on an issue. In your own words, what are your reasons for wanting to change? Why do you think you get stuck? Do you have any previous successes that you could learn from and build on? Your coach’s goal is not to direct, but to evoke. They teach you to sharpen your eyesight and turn up the volume on your thoughts to identify your own reasons for change — arriving at a generative (or a-ha) moment.
Your coach gives you the tools you need to elevate your autonomy and self-efficacy. When you believe in yourself, you don’t need anyone else’s approval to achieve transformation; you do it because you choose to, for your own reasons. A great coach encourages you to be more accountable to yourself by connecting your goals with your core values. They ask questions like: How does this goal align with your vision for your life? Why does it really matter to you?
3. Verified Credentials
A competent coach will have easily verifiable credentials that authenticate their training. Inquire about where they did their coach training program and how many coaching hours they were required to complete. Are they certified by the International Coaching Federation? Did they complete an ICF-approved program through a university or receive board certification from a body such as the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching?
Look for other markers of professional experience and recognition as well. How are they maintaining their skills? Where do they speak or publish? How do they continue to demonstrate their professional value?
Before you dedicate time, money and energy to a coaching relationship, do your homework and think carefully about your decision. Make sure your coach is worth the investment. Done right, with the right practitioner, coaching can significantly impact your life for the better.