One: No training/ winging it. Many coaches hang their coaching shingles without bothering to get coach training. They think that because they have an MBA or worked in HR or as an executive that they can just get into coaching. That might have been true 20 years ago, but it isn’t true now. Those coaches are dead in the water. I have met a number of these coaches, and they don’t know what they are doing. They talk a big game. Some even have books and endorsements from well-known opinion leaders. However, once I got to talking to them, I found out that they can’t get clients, can’t keep clients, and really don’t know how to get their practices going. They are all smoke and mirrors. With solid training, you can beat them.
Two: Poor training. Just as disturbing, I have worked with coaches from many of the larger, better-known coach training schools than the Center for Executive Coaching — even some of the original ones in the market. I’ll let one coach speak for this group: “My school gave me good basic training in how to be a coach, but they didn’t teach us anything about how to set up a practice, attract good clients, or work at the leadership level in organizations. It was more about how to promote coaching as some great thing, but no one wants to hire me based on that.” At the Center for Executive Coaching, we go so far beyond what these schools teach. We focus on what matters in the market, how to get results for clients, and how to establish yourself as a go-to professional in your market. We also give you specific tools and methodologies to help leaders, business owners, and up-and-coming talent address their most pressing challenges. You need these methods to be credible in the market.
Three: Dabblers. Many coaches I met act like they have a trust fund or won the lottery. They are dabblers. Their resume reads like they have jumped from one job to the next. When it comes to their coaching practice, they don’t seem to take it seriously. Maybe they have one or two clients paying them a low hourly rate. They don’t do what’s needed to market themselves. They hide out in their offices writing blogs that no one reads. They talk about a leadership book they will never finish. They quit after they get a few rejections. They just seem to be fly-by-night coaches, and maybe fly-by-night people. If you are serious about starting a coaching practice, you can beat these coaches — and there are lots of them — simply by taking this business seriously and sticking with it.
Four: Not willing to do the work required to make a practice successful. Either because they lack courage or they are dabblers (see #3 above), too many coaches don’t realize that they are in a real business. You can’t be in any business if you aren’t willing to do the work to market yourself and be successful. You can do circles around most coaches in the market today if you have a good work ethic. Having worked with hundreds of coaches outside the Center for Executive Coaching in the past year, I can tell you that most of them are like deer in the headlights. They are just sitting there, mostly doing nothing, hoping their phone will ring.
Five: Can’t think critically. Too many coaches do not come across as being especially bright. I can’t say it any other way. They are suckers for pseudoscience. They jump on the latest fad, even when it isn’t backed up by solid research and science. They spew simplified, bumper-sticker mantras about leadership. Serious executives, business owners, and professionals will not put up with their vapid thinking. At The Center for Executive Coaching we feel blessed: We attract really smart professionals, often with advanced degrees, who like to dig into complex challenges and work with leaders to solve them.
Six: Always overwhelmed. The one thing I have heard most from coaches outside the Center for Executive Coaching is, “I am overwhelmed.” Almost everything overwhelms them: presenting to a group, writing a marketing message, negotiating with a prospect, making time to get clients, dealing with a challenging client. They seem to be in a constant state of “always overwhelmed.” I’m surprised they get out of bed in the morning. Of course we can all feel stress at times, but I am telling you that you can beat most coaches in the market simply by having some basic coping skills.
Seven: No track record of success or substantive experience. I don’t think you should be coaching people to be better leaders if you haven’t demonstrated leadership yourself. And yet people who have not been especially successful in life wake up one morning and decide to become coaches. Coaching is the one profession where the “Imposter Syndrome” is a real thing — many people in the profession truly are imposters. These coaches won’t succeed. You can.
Eight: No edge that sets them apart. In any business, you need a unique selling proposition, some advantage that sets you apart. Most coaches I’ve been working with outside the Center for Executive Coaching can’t come up with one. They point to things like their listening skills, passion, and integrity. These are important qualities, but every coach should have them. In our program, we work with you to identify your unique edge so that you can stand out in the market. Plus, most of the professionals who join us have a track record of achievement and accomplishment. They have gotten results. It is not hard to tell a story that makes you credible, and we help you put it together.
Nine: Not focused on results and value. It is ridiculous but true: Too few coaches bake results and value into their coaching processes. They ask never-ending questions that go nowhere. They don’t know how to track and measure results. They seem more interested in having the client “transform” with some emotional catharsis than actually improve performance in the real world. They come across as, for lack of a better word, fluffy. Everything we teach at the Center for Executive Coaching starts and ends with bringing value and measurable results to clients. How else are you going to get hired?
Ten: No presence. If you want to work with leaders, executives, and up-and-coming talent, you have to have some degree of presence. This is hard to teach. It is cultivated over time. A lot of the coaches I’ve met outside our program don’t have it. They are light weights. I wouldn’t hire them as coaches, but I would refer them to coaches to get some help.
Eleven: On a self-indulgent journey. A few too many coaches sign up for coach training programs as part of their own inner journey. They are there to transform themselves in a weekend. It’s all about them. It’s a narcissistic approach, and coaching fits into their plan for personal nirvana. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t lead to the ability to serve demanding corporate clients.
Twelve: Evangelistic vs. market focused. A lot of coaches come out of other coach training programs ready to evangelize a particular philosophy, like ontology, or psuedo-scientific approach to how to make one’s life better. Executives and leaders don’t want to listen to evangelists, anymore than we want an evangelist knocking on our doors while we are eating breakfast on Sunday morning. People hire coaches to solve pressing problems. At the Center for Executive Coaching, we show you how to think with a market-focused mindset, so that you understand the prospective client’s issues and challenges, and then work with them to develop a solution. You start with the client’s situation and goals. You don’t force a particular ideology onto your clients. That way, you stand a much better chance of getting hired.
Thirteen: Small thinkers. Many coaches think way too small about their practices. They charge tiny amounts of money for a small number of sessions with clients who can’t really afford coaching and aren’t serious about being coached. That is a really bad strategic plan. Obviously you can do circles around these coaches, and I would estimate that these types of coaches make up more than half of the current market.
Fourteen: Angry at corporations and authority. Some coaches got into coaching to become social justice warriors. They don’t like how companies are run. They think most authority figures are bad. Maybe they had a bad boss and got into coaching to fix all the bad bosses out there. They are certainly welcome to their opinions, but I don’t know many leaders who will hire someone who resents them.
Fifteen: Too academic. Finally, many coaches can’t move clients forward because they are stuck in theory. They don’t know how to get out of their own way. They’d rather explore an issue to death with a client, like a therapist, then get results.
For all of the above reasons, YOU — if you are a seasoned, smart professional — can beat the vast majority of coaches in the market today. I have seen them in action. I am not at all impressed. Join the Center for Executive Coaching for the tools, methods, and support you need to be successful.