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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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Who will you trust? (part 1)


My husband will tell you otherwise, but it’s not normal for me to have a big rant over something. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do for a living. I genuinely get a real kick out of helping an individual or organisation develop. My only problem with what I do, is that it is pretty much unregulated – what that means is that any Tom, Dick or Harry can set themselves up as a Coach or Training Consultancy.

So let’s start with coaching. [In my next post on the blog, I will look at training] It is only since the 1970s that coaching has emerged as an independent discipline, moving into business away from the sports field. In fact Timothy Gallway, the founder of modern day coaching, did not publish his famous book on coaching ‘the Inner Game’ until 1997. Do a search on Google today and there are over 44 million hits for ‘coaching training providers’. In fact one ad on the Google search has a ‘free report’ which will show me how to make £5000 every month as a life coach. [As a professional coach, I am somewhat sceptical about this claim!] In addition to the many coaching qualifications I now hold, I hold a certificate in life coaching – and didn’t actually have to do any coaching to gain my qualification. Is it any wonder that there are a lot of poor coaches out there who will promise far more than they can deliver, take a lot of your money, and potentially do more harm than good?

So how do you go about finding the right coach for you?

  1. It’s not the letters that count

    It seems that every coaching training provider will award you a set of acronyms once you have paid them enough money and jumped over enough hoops for them. If you are UK based look for whether your coach holds an accredited coaching qualification from any of the big three coaching associations – International Coaching Federation (ICF), Association of Coaching (AC) or European Mentoring Coaching Council. Membership of one of these associations is not enough – you can become an affiliate member of these associations by virtue of paying your annual membership fee.
  2. Price is not a guarantee of success or experience

    Unlike some of the regulated professions such as financial services, accountancy or the law, anyone can call themselves a coach, and charge what people are willing to pay. Before you sign up with a coach do ask for (and check) references from previous clients. If the coach does not have any attributed case studies, testimonials,  or feedback on their website be wary... If anyone guarantees you success, walk away...
  3. Check the chemistry

    Rapport is very important between a coach and their client. Sometimes, despite the best intentions of both parties, a relationship just doesn’t gel. Good coaches will always spend time getting to know you, and what you want out of the coaching relationship – BEFORE, starting to charge you for their time. I pride myself on being able to build up rapport with nearly everyone I meet, however, I know that there are some types of coaches that wouldn’t work for me – but work for other people.
  4. Ask around

    The very good (and established!) coaches very rarely have to advertise their services. A decent coach with an established business will gain over 90% of their warm leads from referrals – normally happy satisfied previous clients.  Having said that, a coach advertising their services, doesn’t necessarily mean there is something wrong with them – but do ask some questions where they find most of their clients.
  5. Do they walk the walk & talk the talk?

    What I mean is, who is coaching them at this present time? A lot of people have become coaches because they believe they can make a few bob, whilst not really living and breathing the ethics of coaching.  A decent coach will be regularly coached by someone else. If your coach can’t answer the question – what’s your view of supervision for coaches... walk away...

    Just because your coach has been a top exec, pyschotherapist or acknowledged leadership expert - doesn't necessarily make them a good coach.
  6. Do they have professional indemnity (PI) insurance?

    Any good coach should have PI insurance. Would you use a doctor, accountant or lawyer who didn't have PI insurance? So why work with a coach who doesn't have PI insurance - you are placing similar levels of trust in them as your accountant or lawyer. In effect, if your coach does not have PI insurance they are taking a business shortcut. Where else may they have taken shortcuts - and potentially how could that negatively impact yourself? For example, I have just been hearing of business coaches who, without being a qualified accountant or FSA regulated individual, advise on overdrafts and loans to their clients. So be careful!

Heather Townsend, the founder of The Efficiency Coach, holds an Associate Certified Coach credential from the International Coaching Federation, and vaid PI insurance from Towergate. If you would like to explore what a coaching relationship could do for you, please give me a call + 44 (0) 1234 48 0123 or drop me a line, [email protected]

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Heather Townsend


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