Free coaching: What I say to people who ask, “Should I become an executive/leadership coach?”

Perhaps because we just had the New Year, we are getting more than our usual number of calls from prospective members of the Center for Executive Coaching asking us whether they should become an executive and leadership coach or not.

  • “Will I be successful as an executive and leadership coach?”
  • “Is coaching a good fit for me?”
  • “Should I do this?”

It is challenging for us to help people answer that question. Usually people come to us when they already know they want to be a coach, and are looking for best-practice training, tools, and methods. In other words, once you know that you want to be an executive and leadership coach, we know that we can give you the best tools, processes, and ongoing support in the industry.

If you aren’t sure what an executive coach does, then perhaps order my book Coach! by clicking here. If you won’t spend $21.95 and read a book about coaching, you probably aren’t serious about getting into this field. If you want to learn about business development, you can order my book Guerrilla Marketing for Coaches on Amazon. Either or both of these will give you a good sense of what having a coaching practice is all about.

Sometimes we run across people who seem to be looking for a guarantee of success. We know that salespeople at some other programs are happy to tell you that you will be a huge success, and gladly take your money, even though they don’t give you much more than some basic core competency training. Our point of view is that no ethical person or company can guarantee your success. Meanwhile, we know the market for coaching. We know that executive and leadership coaching is a business like any other. You need to be comfortable developing business, or be willing to learn and get comfortable. You need to have enough financial resources to give your practice the time it might need to develop. You should have a track record of success, so that prospective clients see you as a credible professional. We know that we give you the coaching and business development content that will maximize your chances of success. If you are willing to do the work, you are more likely to succeed with our program. At the same time, the people who join our program tend to be seasoned professionals — whether through their work history, educational credentials, or other leadership — and are therefore likely to be more successful in this field.

Here is another way to look at whether to get into coaching or not:

Perhaps you shouldn’t put so much pressure on yourself or your coach training program. If you have the attitude that you are joining a wonderful educational opportunity that can open doors for a lifetime, then that might be a more balanced approach. If you want to set up a coaching practice, keep in mind that a single executive coaching client can pay back your investment in our program, and then some. If you are an internal coach, our program can help you be a strategic resource in your company more quickly, efficiently, and effectively. But if in doubt, go into this as you would any other educational opportunity — by looking forward to learning and developing new, practical, valuable skills.

So, should you be an executive and/or leadership coach? If you still aren’t sure, here are some criteria. If you meet even one of these, odds are good that you are in the right place:

    • Some of the most rewarding parts of your career have been when you have developed others. You’d now like to focus on that type of work.
    • People tend to come to you for advice, guidance, mentoring, and informal coaching.
    • You are fascinating by what makes people succeed and perform at their best.
    • You have had a successful career and are ready for something new.
    • You have an entrepreneurial spirit and love the idea of flexible hours, working from home, and working on addressing pressing leadership challenges with great people.

    Sometimes, even when someone knows they would be a good coach, they can’t get past certain concerns. As Pee Wee Herman said in his first movie, “Everyone has a big BUT.” Maybe you have a concern about your age, gender, educational credentials (or lack of same), industry focus, geography, time out of the workplace, current commitments, or anything else.

    All I can tell you is that everyone has some reason, or maybe many reasons, that could keep them from success. At the same time, I know many coaches who started with the same concerns and became successful. When I think of my own coaching practice, now two decades old, I can give you at least three reasons why I never should have been successful.But I kept moving forward and succeeded despite my own limiting beliefs about my potential. You can do the same, and we can help. In fact, we even have a quick and simple exercise that helps our members to help them to take their perceived weaknesses and turn them into strengths that prospective clients will appreciate.

    People also have lots of questions about the market:

    • “How much can I make as a coach?” Answer: How much do you want to make? Our program works with you to set goals, check your assumptions, and help you develop a plan for success. We also provide different business models to help you reach your goals, so you can choose the business model that works best for your style.
    • “Is the market saturated with coaches?” Answer: There are lots of coaches, but not enough good ones. The people who join the Center for Executive Coaching are seasoned leaders and professionals. They have the substance required to be successful when they add the training we provide.
    • “What niche should I pick?” Answer: Our program includes dozens of hours of business development webinars, including one-on-one support to help you pick the right niche, or niches, for your unique skills and background. We do that after you join, not before. It takes time and support, which is what our program provides.
    • “How do I get visible?” Answer: We guarantee that our program provides more robust business development resources and support than any other coach training program. We show you how to get visible, based on your preferences and talents.
    • “What price do I charge?” Answer: We give you ranges from the market when you join the program.

    Even with the above taken care of, some people still come up with reasons that they can’t do this, even thought they swear that becoming a coach is a priority. To me, those are people who aren’t committed to being executive and leadership coaches. After all, there is no perfect time, and no better time than now if you are serious.

    One statistic: When people tell us that they really want to start our coaching program, but need to wait a few months, we don’t hear from 95 percent of them every again. It seems that people who are too busy now, stay too busy in the near future; how you spend your time is the best signal of your true priorities and if you won’t make room for coach training (only 3-4 hours per week), then coach training probably isn’t really a priority. Similarly, the people who don’t have money now, usually won’t have money in the future. In contrast, the people who join are ready to take action within a week or two. They know they want to do this, and are ready to take action and realize their aspirations. It’s that simple. It’s either a priority or it isn’t.

    All of this doesn’t keep these people from calling us to ask, and that’s why we have written this post. If you want to do it, jump in. There’s no better time if you are serious and if this is something you really want to do. We promise that we will uphold our end of the bargain, and give you the training, tools, and support to maximize your chances of success. If you have excuse after excuse, then please don’t ask us to talk you into being a coach. If we have to do that, it’s probably a good sign that you aren’t ready.

    Having said all of the above, we certainly understand that it can be confusing to pick the right program, and that you probably have questions about how our program works in practice. If these are the types of questions you have, we are delighted to do our best to answer. Contact me anytime by email at you reach out, please go through our programs to confirm that the investment is within your budget. Please read other articles on our “Articles” page, including an article right up top about the International Coach Federation and their designations; if you need further coaching about the ICF, which can be quite confusing, please contact the ICF directly because they are the best source for current information about their designations. Please check out our FAQ page, too.

    In conclusion: If you want to get into the wonderful field of coaching, we will give you great content, great training, and great ongoing support to help you succeed. But first you have to make the choice and commit by taking action and joining a program. If in doubt, take the pressure off by thinking of this minimally as a great learning opportunity.


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