How to Choose the Right Coach 

 November 1, 2017

By  Donna Woodrow

Congratulations, if you are reading this then it's possible that you have made the decision to engage in coaching! But wait a minute, where do you start? How will you know that you have found the right coach for you? The purpose of this blog is to assist you in engaging with a coach who has the right knowledge, skills, style and delivery that will be vital to you reaching your outcomes.


What do you want from your coach?

Before you go looking, it is best to know what you are looking for. What specifically do you want from your coach? There is a huge variety of experience, skill levels, styles, delivery methods and processes that coaches employ. It can be confusing for the client to join the dots... 

"Is what this coach has to offer, going to give me what I am looking for?"

The main question to ask yourself here is, what style of coach do you want? There are many different styles of coaching, and I don't wish to oversimplify a complex topic. However, the bottom line is this, do you want to feel understood by your coach or do you want them to challenge your thinking?

The answer to this question has implications for the type of relationship you are seeking from your coach. Both being understood and feeling challenged can be valuable types of coaching. Which one you choose to engage with depends on what feels right to move you forward. A good coach will know how to deliver both, by understanding, validating and challenging you, throughout your evolution.

You may choose a coach because you 'get along' with them, or feel a "fit" with them. However remember that a friendly coach doesn't necessarily translate into outcomes for your professional or personal growth. Rather than looking to "fit" with your coach, ask the question... Do I think this coach can help me to achieve my objectives?

Questions to ask yourself...

  • Do I want to be challenged by my coach?
  • All things considered, do I think this coach can help me to achieve my objectives?

Should my coach be certified?

Anyone can claim to be a coach. In fact, the standards for becoming a coach can vary from a weekend workshop to months of rigorous training and bench marking, so how will you know what a good coach looks like? We will provide a few key points that will assist you in filtering the good from the bad, and the ugly. Then you can be sure you have found the right coach for you. There is a monumental difference between reading a few self-help books and calling yourself a coach, to someone who has been certified as a coach through training with leading edge coaches in the industry today.

Along with their original coaching certification a good coach will also have extensive training in one or more methodologies in the human potential movement, such as;

  • Human Resources 
  • Psychology
  • Counselling
  • Hypnosis
  • Neuro Linguistic Programming
  • Neuro-Semantics
  • Integral Theory
  • Stage Structures of Development

A good coach will also have knowledge and experience with assessment tools and personality profiling tools such as, Enneagram, MBIT, DISC, or 360 review. 

Your coach should be able to understand and communicate complex coaching processes. A reputable coach will also be in good standing with and hold memberships with relevant bodies such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF).


  • Reputable coaches will be certified by a reputable training company. 
  • Ask your coach what tools and methodologies they bring to a session.

Get to know your coach.

Most good coaches will offer you a free coaching session to allow you, and the coach to explore if the relationship will be ethical and valuable. Don't be afraid to ask your coach questions. Talk openly with them and discuss any concerns you may have of the coaching process. Indeed, a good sign after you have spoken with a potential coach is if you feel excited and inspired and a little bit frightened that they are going to stretch you beyond your comfort zone. This is essential if you are looking to grow.

Also, check out their web page, and any articles or blogs they may have written, what does this say about them? Do you like their thought leadership and do they uphold a brand of professionalism? Is their style of coaching to your taste? If what you observe mostly resonates with you then you have probably found your coach.


  • Don't be afraid to ask questions of your coach.
  • Read your Coaches blogs and connect with them on social media.

How should a good coach behave?

A good coach will display behaviours that are congruent with good coaching skills. They will display deep listening skills, probing questioning skills, and will be able to identify patterns of behaviour. 

You might also want your coach to be able to model key leadership behaviours such as relationship building, emotional intelligence and establishing trust. And of course, a good coach will behave with integrity and will uphold confidentiality. (They should make very clear agreements with you around this.)

Finally, a good coach will have a coach. If they believe in coaching so much and want you to engage with them, doesn't it seem appropriate that they will be on the similar journey with their own coach?


  • A good Coach will walk their talk.
  • A good Coach will have a Coach of their own.


Because coaching is content free, a coach does not need to be the expert in your field, or have experienced your life situation. Coaches are experts in structure. This expertise allows them to really get to the core of what is holding you back in work or in life and to challenge your thinking and behaviour to move past your habituated ways of being and into new and more valuable resourceful states.

Now that you know how to choose the right coach for you, why don't you read our blog on how to optimise your coaching experience, for the best return on your investment.

Donna Woodrow

Donna takes a genuine interest in the collective and personal growth of the human race and its individuals. Donna is a seeker who loves to travel and invests considerable time in her own personal growth. Donna is a professional coach and trainer, experienced Enneagram facilitator and the Managing Director and Partner of Modo Coaching & Training.

Donna Woodrow

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