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Finding the right coach can feel like you’re hunting for a needle in a haystack. You’re bombarded by sales coaches, business coaches, leadership coaches and personal coaches – not to mention Instagram coaches, dog-walking coaches and style coaches. And then there’s cognitive coaching, systemic coaching, adaptive coaching … it’s no wonder people don’t know which way to turn. You need a coach just to help you find a coach.

Well, I’ve been doing the job for more than 15 years. In that time, I’ve worked with and alongside an array of coaches. I’ve picked up some valuable tips along the way to help you find the right coach for you. 

I care deeply about this profession. I consider it a calling and I feel privileged every single time I get to sit alongside another wonderful human being while they figure stuff out in their lives. 

It’s currently an unregulated sector. That brings both gains and costs, but faced with a vast range in quality and approach, how do you begin to find the right fit for you?

When someone approaches me for coaching, I always ask if they’ve spoken to anyone else. If not, I encourage them to find at least two other coaches, and have a rapport session with each.  The work (when it’s done well), needs to be respectful and caring with both the coach and coachee in mind. 

I’m not the right coach for everyone. I’ve learned this over the years, by saying yes to certain clients that I should have passed on to other coaches, who were a better fit. A mismatch is no good for them or me.

If you’re ready to start working with a coach to help you get to the next level of your personal and or professional development, here are my seven must-know tips to help you choose the right coach for you.

1.     Get clear 

The clearer you can be about what you want to get out of coaching, the more likely you are to find the right coach.  

Of course, sometimes we’re not sure where we want to go, but we know we need support. A good coach can help you get clear. Asking for a one-off session to get clear on your development goals is a totally acceptable request. Once you’re there, it should be clear to both of you if this partnership will be a good fit. A coach wants to see their clients succeed.  

If you have a well-formed outcome in mind, you’re already a good way towards narrowing your search.

2.     Know your limits

Coaching is a dance of support and challenge.  It’s really helpful if you’ve explored how much challenge you’re open to and how much support you need. Do you need a nudge or a push? 

If what you really want is to talk and feel listened to, counselling or other talking therapies might be better for you. 

Coaching is traditionally about helping you get from A to B. In my experience, that journey to B, often needs a few pit-stops to unravel the beliefs that have held you back from getting there by yourself. Or to see there might be a more effective way.

You’re going to be doing the work, so it’s important that you get an honest sense of your commitment to show up and knuckle down. 

Is the time right? Do you have the resources around you that you need? Are you willing to be held accountable ?   

3.     Set your boundaries

It’s a good idea to get a sense of what’s ok and what’s not ok for you. Healthy boundaries help to contain the power and safety of effective coaching.  A good coach will be able to tell you what their boundaries are. I have a client agreement that I talk through with all coaching clients in our first session together. It gives me the chance to share more about my approach: what to expect, how I work, my terms for commitment and cancellation. These are all based on what I know works to keep momentum for the work.  

When you’re researching coaches, ask about their boundaries.  A coach without them won’t hold you in the work as safely and successfully as one who’s thought carefully about them. 

4.     Seek professionals 

When I first became a coach, I was a leader responsible for a large team of people. I cared deeply about every one of them having the chance to reach their full potential, so I went on any course I could to help me to become the best boss and the best coach.

It wasn’t until I set up my own business that I joined a professional body. I chose the Association for Coaching.  There is also the  International Coaching Federation and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council.    

My membership means I’m committed to practice based on a code of conduct and ethics.  But interestingly, my clients have never ever asked me if I have professional membership (or qualifications for that matter). 

Nevertheless, professional membership and qualifications matter to me because they’re important my own professional standards. 

Be willing to ask your coach about their professional standards.

5.     Ask about their professional and personal development

I’ve never met a good coach who isn’t always learning. 

It’s almost a requirement of this profession to be hungry to learn.  Coaching is about development, evolution, growing and enhancement. If we’re required to do that work alongside our clients, we need to be open to lifelong learning ourselves. 

I commit to regular supervision. It’s  a safe space for me to reflect on the success of my work, to tackle tricky interventions and to enquire about my own edges. I want to do the best I can for my clients, so I have to be willing to look at myself honestly and kindly – and work on my own development. 

Successful relationships need good self-awareness and a willingness to figure stuff out together. Coaching is a relationship.  

6.     Find rapport 

The biggest question of all, is: do you have rapport? 

And I’m not talking about finding a coach you like, because they’re going to  be nice to you. 

When I’m looking for a coach, I’m searching for someone who will challenge me, as well as support me. I can be a cunning fox when I don’t want to see something about my life. I can live happily in denial for a while. 

I know I need someone with firm boundaries; someone who will challenge me. I work best with coaches and supervisors who can access their head, heart and soul when they’re working with me. A head-only coach would never get through my tough barriers to the juicy stuff – and that would be a waste of time and money. 

Sure, it’s helpful if I like them. But more importantly, do I feel safe with them? Does my intuition feel settled – and perhaps even a little excited/nervous? 

7.     Talk about money last

I’ve never come across a sector with such huge variation in its pricing. From less than £50 to millions of pounds. It’s absolutely bananas.

But the higher the price doesn’t necessarily mean the higher the quality. Some people coach to give back. Some do it as a side hustle to their day jobs. Some only want to coach where they feel it’s most needed – and that may be a sector with very little to invest. 

As a self-employed coach, I’ve experimented with all sorts of different pricing models and I can tell you this: the price isn’t what matters.

What matters is this: Is the coach as good fit for you? Will they support and challenge in the right amounts? Do they have a process, and will they hold it so you can show up and do the work? If things aren’t going well, do you feel they’re capable of working that through with you? Can you trust them?

Finding a coach you can work with who’s both professional and relational is one of life’s biggest joys. There are a lot of great coaches out there. Make sure you find one of them. 

To find out more about our coaching offer or to be matched with one of our professional coaches, email