A Question for any Coaching Client: Am I ready for coaching?

From a coach perspective – right from the very first meeting we are thinking about the coachability of our clients: ‘Is this client coachable? And ‘Am I the right coach for them?’ However, there is also the client perspective where a client will be thinking: ‘How will I know that I am ready to be coached?’ This article shares some thoughts for clients to reflect upon and empower an independent decision if coaching is right and what type of coaching can support them in their unique situation.

Coaching began to become popular in the 1980s and now is attached to every area of life, sports, work, health, marriage etc. As a client it can be overwhelming and hard to know What is good coaching and how do I know I need coaching versus something else?’

My definition of Coaching is a trusting partnership, with the Coach in a leadership role supporting the client to self-manage a whole system personal transformation in their chosen area of focus to enable endless possibilities through the coach’s use of expert coaching skills.

But first to explore how does a client think or reach out for coaching. Many clients will be recommended a coach by a friend, an employer, a google search or a past experience of coaching but nearly always with a challenge, a problem, or a need for change in their mind.

Before a client makes any decision the following areas of self-reflection will reap huge benefits; an understanding of coaching, the problem they are trying to solve and what they hope to achieve, their own readiness for coaching and willingness to engage in a coaching process.  I will address each individually.

Understanding of coaching: Coaching is a $3billion dollar industry worldwide, with 1000’s of types of coaches and coaching styles, some good and some questionable. In recent years coaching has become certified with the bodies of ICF, AC and EMCC and coaches who have this certification will have completed certain qualifications and importantly will have verified experience in coaching and also be supervised to ensure they meet a certain level. It is important as a client to do your research into the type of coach you want, the experience that the coach has and the accreditations they hold. It is useful to review client testimonials and also request a chemistry meeting with them (which should be free) to establish the type of coaching they do and also if you connect with them. It is important that you trust and feel comfortable with the coach, feel you can be vulnerable open and honest and that you know they will challenge you to enable real transformation in you. They should also give you clarity of what to expect from the coaching including logistics, cost and approach so there are no surprises. If the coach is a recommendation remember we are all unique so just because the coach suits someone else doesn’t mean they are the fit for you. Try out a few coaches and pick the one that suits you best.

The problem you are trying to solve: We face problems and challenges every day so when deciding if you want a coach to support you, it is good to reflect. Is it a self-sourced decision to find a coach or a suggestion by someone else, your friend, your boss? Is this something that you want to solve yourself or have you been told by someone else to solve it?  Is coaching the right approach or could mentoring or counselling suit you better. What makes this problem/challenge solvable by coaching, what do you hope to achieve? Why now and what makes this the right time to engage a coach? It is useful to discuss this with the coach in your chemistry check meeting to answer your own questions before proceeding.

Willingness: Following on from above it is also good to explore your own willingness to engage in a coaching process. Coaching is all about enabling you to think differently, being open to change, taking time to explore you and to bring about real transformation in you. It is good to ask yourself what is your personal motivation to engage now, what are the indicators that you can look in yourself to show that you are ready to engage in this rewarding transformational process. Do you see this as a potentially positive rewarding process, do you have positive energy when you think about it, are you open to learning more about yourself, have you already started this process, have you begun to wonder who am I and what’s important to me? Are you willing to be challenged to find out more about yourself? Sometimes clients find themselves pushed into coaching by others and unless the willingness and desire to engage is owned by the client and seen as a positive not a threat then coaching won’t reach its full potential.

Readiness: As important as it is to be willing to engage in a coaching process, it is also important that you reflect on your readiness to engage in the process of coaching. Coaching takes time and energy not just when you are in a session with your coach, but also afterwards and in the period around coaching. Real transformation takes effort, thought, reflection, sometimes habit changes which all take time effort and energy. It is useful to think can you commit to the time and do you have a support system that can help you commit to the time when challenges arise.

As coaches we often get asked is everyone suitable for coaching, I believe yes, but with a few caveats, most importantly the client first has to establish that they are ready and willing to be coached and secondly that the time is right. I believe this readiness and willingness will happen at certain points in our lives, the key is to know when. When that exciting moment happens it is critical the client chooses the right coach for where they are at and then their enlightening journey can begin with high potential to be a really rewarding journey.

By Niamh Walsh. Student at Sandown Business School

Master Diploma in Leadership Coaching and Mentoring with Science, Artistry and Systems.


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