As a small business owner you'll take every advantage you can get.
Business coaching has the potential to deliver some important advantages for you and your business – but only if you can find coaches that are really as good as they say they are.
Here's the problem: The business coaching industry is extremely crowded. Some coaches have the training and experience you expect in a business professional while others are self-appointed coaching gurus with sketchy qualifications. The tricky part is telling the difference between the two.
You don't have to be a coaching expert to distinguish genuine business coaches from charlatans. All it takes is a basic knowledge of the business coaching industry and our list of attributes of a good business coach.
- Self-awareness. A truly legitimate business coach is very aware of his limitations. Unlike counselors or consultants, business coaches generally don't offer advice to their clients. Their job is to motivate and encourage the client to understand and achieve his own objectives. Good business coaches are aware of their limitations and enforce role boundaries in the coaching relationship.
- Results-oriented. The best business coaches aren't wishy-washy about what they're trying to accomplish. They are results-oriented professionals who measure success by their clients' ability to achieve measurable results.
- Relational. Coaches are usually interested in developing relationships with their clients. If all goes well, your business coach will work with you for an extended period of time (usually between six months and two years). Successful coaches take relationship building a step further by going the extra mile to ensure the development of a horizontal relationship, i.e. a relationship in which both the client and the coach are on equal footing.
- Experienced. When you're interviewing potential coaches, experience counts. But the kind of experience are looking for isn't necessarily corporate business experience. It's coaching experience that makes a difference, especially with clients that are similar to you in business size and stage of career.
- Listening attitude. Don't be surprised if your coach listens more than he talks. Top-tier coaches are expert listeners who have been trained to hear your ideas and clarify your thought process. If a potential business coach makes it difficult for you to get a word in edgewise, he's probably a hack who doesn't understand what coaching is all about.