Because I have been in the coaching profession for so long, I am often asked for advice about becoming a coach, both as a full-time profession and as an additional skill set.
In the case of leaders as well as learning and development professionals, it does seem like an awfully good skill set to have in the toolbox. If that’s you, here are some thoughts to keep in mind as you begin to explore coaching.
Experience good coaching firsthand. Work with a coach and have an experience of what it is like to be a client. Working with an exceptionally capable coach will provide you with perspective and answer a lot of questions you might have. You will learn what a coach really does and experience some coaching techniques firsthand. Most important, you will get a strong sense of whether or not you want to provide that kind of service for others.
Take it slow and steady. If you do feel a strong calling to be a full-time coach, that’s great—but don’t quit your day job. It will take a while to get to a full practice that will sustain you financially. If you have never run your own business before, remember that that is an entirely separate skill set and the learning curve can be steep.
Get training. Being a really good listener is not enough. Being an excellent trainer or facilitator is not enough. Consulting skills are not coaching skills. Being a psychiatrist or psychologist can be handy—but, again, coaching is a distinct approach and skill set.
Stick with certified programs. Certification is important now and will become even more so over the next decade. Find a training program that is accredited by the International Coach Federation. There are a lot of excellent programs; I cannot endorse one or another here. Your goal is to invest in a program with a proven track record and one that has the appropriate administrative structures in place. Once you find a program that appeals to you, ask to speak with a couple of former students.
Get focused. You will also want to explore what you want your focus to be. There are programs devoted to leadership, neuroscience, health and wellness, real estate sales—it goes on and on. It is okay if you don’t have a specialty going in. Many programs provide a good foundation for lots of different specializations. If you aren’t sure about what your niche should be, a good first clue will be the kinds of people you do your best work with.
Coaching is a great calling and coaching skills are useful to everyone—helping professionals, managers and leaders, parents, performance and sports coaches. I encourage you to explore if you suspect this could be your passion. It would never be a waste to get training, even if you don’t feel a strong calling to be a full-time coach. If you do have your heart set on being a full time coach, don’t ignore the fact that this will mean starting your own business. So, do go in with both eyes wide open.
I invite other longtime coaches who work in organizations to post in the comments additional thoughts they might have, and I am happy to answer questions as well.
About the Author
Madeleine Homan Blanchard is the co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 150 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.
4 thoughts on “Considering Becoming a Full Time Coach? Here are Five Tips for Getting Started”
Great article, Madeleine, and thank you for inviting comments from other long-time coaches! Here’s what I often share when asked for input from those considering becoming a coach…It’s most important to step back and determine your path, your purpose, your big picture. If you’re a life coach, your choices will be different than if you’re an external executive coach, or an internal corporate coach, or business coach, or relationship coach, or leadership coach. Each needs different tools, courses, certifications, etc. The courses, tools, groups and networks you’ll choose will have as much to do with your industry or specialty focus as with your intended market. First decide where you’re going, then craft a map to get there. There’s also the question of whether or not to go for a credential in addition to your certification from where you got trained as a coach. Much of that has to do with your intended clients and the norms or expectations of their industry, role, and geography. Once you know where you’re going, you might consider these trusted resources to guide you further:
Coaching Is Calling: A guide to coach training programs and professional career paths
by Lauren B. Weinstein
This book is for those new to coaching or considering becoming a coach. It includes well-researched content, worksheets, reflections, and resources to help as you begin your coaching journey. http://www.coachingiscalling.com/
Peer Resources Network
by Rey Carr: http://www.peer.ca/coaching
This online directory offers a wealth of coaching resources including literature, coach training programs, perspectives on certification, associations and networks, and much more.
Library of Professional Coaching:
An online, free set of resources associated with professional coaching. It’s been referred to as “the Huffington Post of coaching” and has a searchable database of high-caliber materials.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever
by Michael Bungay Stanier
Hope these resources help you with your decision!
OMG Suzi this is so helpful. Thank you for your extremely valuable input. Amazing.
Thank you both! So grateful…I have been researching this desire and working with a coach for about three years. I am ready to take the next step and you have both helped me do that with your advice and resources. Very much appreciated!!
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