How to Choose the Right Executive, Career or Life Coach

by Michelle Velan

Coaching can improve your life, help you achieve your goals, advance your career prospects and much more, but it’s important that you get the right coach. In 2016, it was estimated by The International Coach Federation that there were 53,300 coaches, up from 47,500 coaches worldwide in 2011 (, 2018). Moreover, the coaching field is unregulated. Consequently, anyone can call themselves a coach and unfortunately, there are many untrained and incompetent coaches that are damaging the reputation of the industry. Currently, there are more than 500 training and certification programs worldwide, and many of them will certify you with no rigorous training if you simply pay them a fee. At Wondersource, we aim to overcome this problem by carefully vetting all our coaches.

Regardless of the process you use to find a good coach, it’s important to take the time to find the best one for you. We recommend that you identify 3-5 candidates and consider asking each some of the following questions:

  • Do they have a structured plan? In some instances you’ll want to see a coach as and when things come up, but in most cases you’ll want a program with clear milestones.
  • Do they have success stories that they can talk about? While not necessary, if your goals are very particular, it may be helpful if they’ve worked with people who’ve achieved similar goals that you want to achieve or dealt with similar challenges.
  • What makes them different from other coaches? Why should you choose to work with them over someone else? These are great questions because a) you will get to hear how the coach summarises their unique value proposition in their own words and b) it shows their ability to think strategically about how they are positioned amongst peers, demonstrating self-awareness and critical thinking, two key skills for a good coach.
  • What are their learnings from their most successful client relationships? This will show you how they are able to reflect, learn, improve and also provide a guideline for how you too can ensure a successful experience.

As for yourself, consider the following questions:

  • Do you have rapport? You need to get along with your coach to get results. It’s important that you feel safe, understood, supported and that they believe in you.

  • Do you admire / respect the coach? Look for whether they have a proven track record, a relevant degree or certification, testimonials from clients, a compelling and professional LinkedIn profile and a public or social media profile. Assess whether you like what they have to say in blog posts, presentations and their social feeds and if you are confident the approach can work for you.

A good coach should be able to identify and acknowledge all of your great and unique qualities and strengths, while encouraging you to overcome your inner blocks and blind spots and motivate you to move forward.

But don’t forget: your coach is only your partner in success. In order to achieve results, you’ll have to do the work. Working with a trained and empathetic coach and leveraging their experience, is a proven way to advance skills, overcome challenges and achieve goals as long as you’re committed and doing the work.

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