I'll be honest with you, becoming an expert coach is not all sugar and spice, and everything nice. Having the ability to coach effectively does not depend on luck. You don't just wait around patiently, hoping that someday you'll turn into an exemplary expert coach.
What I´ve found to be true though is that the journey of learning and personal breakthroughs for yourself rewards you handsomely along the way.
Most expert coaches start at the bottom. They work hard. They practice their skills consistently. They expand their knowledge, learn new techniques and methods. And they connect with the right people.
In my experience, what most engaging and prosperous expert coaches have in common are the characteristics I´ve put together for you here in this article.
Take this list to heart. Apply it to yourself. Developing these characteristics can set you on the road to becoming the successful expert coach you have it in you to be!
One of the most vital characteristics - and not just in coaching! - is self-awareness. Self-awareness is defined as the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.
And it is crucial when it comes to improving your performance.
Self–awareness is also a valuable characteristic when it comes to being able to adapt to what's happening in the moment. It allows you flexibility so that you can respond in a way that fits the situation. Flexibility and versatility are vital tools in any coaching toolbox.
I see it as a combination of Emotional & Social Intelligence. Both are life long studies that broaden our reach and influence, inside and out.
For every situation, there is a big picture and there are specific details that need to be taken into consideration.
As an expert coach, you need to be able to see both.
On the one hand, you will be able to immediately analyze the larger scenario and see how it fits into other scenarios that may be going on.
At the same time, you will want to be able to identify the important details - no matter how small they may be - and evaluate how they can affect the overall situation.
This characteristic is key in helping you make wise decisions about how to serve and support your clients in the best way possible. Being able to share this knowledge and way of thinking with the people you coach is equally valuable.
Without proper communication, there is no coaching. Communication is the lifeblood of your coaching business.
It really doesn't matter how good your practical skills are if you are not able to share your knowledge through words, listen for what's being voiced (and what´s not) and motivate others to take action.
Conversational Intelligence is also a growing talent that blossoms over time with the proper care and practice.
Lifelong learning and expert coaching go hand-in-hand. In the beginning of your career you naturally need to learn in order to be effective. Over time, you will continue to learn to maintain and expand your expert status.
A willingness to learn is important if you ever hope to keep up with new trends and techniques. Keeping yourself open to change is key to making yourself relevant in any field of coaching - no matter how old you are.
Coaching doesn’t have to be monotonous and boring. The most successful coaches have developed fun and exciting methods to engage their clients or trainees.
Try thinking outside the box to create a new way of combining theoretical and practical learning to make it as much fun as possible for everyone involved.
When I attended a weekend course at the London School of Economics years ago, the professor had a funny story to illustrate every key point in each module. To this day I remember his presentation in its entirety and I accredit this to his brilliant use of the powerful tool I refer to as "humor in teaching".
At this point in my life, I have an agreement with myself that if I do not enjoy it, I will outsource it. (With the exception of children & family, of course!)
This characteristic deserves extra emphasis. Caring for others is the basis for you being able to be the best at what you do.
Always consider the motive of the person who comes to you and treat them with the care, support and respect that they deserve. People often forget what you say but they seldom forget how you make them feel. And that feeling is what will motivate them when they tell others about their experience of working with you.
Make your clients feel cared for. Help them get the results they are after. When you do, you will become the coach they can´t help but recommend to others.
They asked Jung near the end of his life why he thought Freud was so successful with so many patients. “That’s easy,” he said, “He loved them.”
(Not the deep Freudian theory you were expecting?!)
This characteristic is necessary when it comes to learning new things as well as when evaluating circumstances. Train your mind to always think critically; no matter how trivial what you are hearing may seem. There is almost always something more you can learn, another layer to peel back, a new insight to gain.
Learning when, where and how to ask powerful, insightful, empowering questions is an art form cultivated through bold practice. Go for it!
People go to coaches for many reasons...
Consider how important a person's goals are to them personally.
Be willing to help them reach their goals. Show a true interest and caring in what they have to say. Be present and focused on them while you are together. These are the characteristics of an expert coach and a caring soul. You want to be both.
Yes, coaching is a two-way street. You are not only transferring your knowledge and skills to another person, they are doing the same for you.
Though perhaps not directly, it is not unusual for the coach to be coached during a session as well. The ability and the willingness to recognize that your clients have knowledge to share with you - and to be open to it - is yet another valuable characteristic of an expert coach.
Bottomline is that the way you ultimately learn “how to coach” will be taught to you by your clients.
Openness to other opinions, techniques and ways of doing things - not always feeling that only you have the answer - is a very important characteristic of an expert coach.
Coaching is not all about you. It´s about the person you are helping.
Along with generosity of spirit, a willingness to be open to other perspectives can fuel compassion and help you stay focused on the other person´s desires and needs.
As an expert coach, people see in you what they hope to become. What is required is that you practice what you preach.
As the old saying goes, “Action speaks louder than words”. When you set a good example, you don’t have to continually repeat what you've said; people will know and they will follow.
What we model speaks louder than any other tool we possess.
To my way of thinking, these are some of the most important characteristics of an expert coach. If that´s what you are aiming to become, take a look and ask yourself how many of them are already an integral part of who you are
...and which ones you still need to work on.
I´d be interested in hearing what you come up with. Share your thoughts and your questions with me in the comments below!
May you encounter abundance, joy and love for what you are striving to bring to the world as an aspiring Expert Coach.
William Holt is the go-to coach and trainer for executive women wanting to transition to coaching as a way of sharing their professional expertise with the world. He is also the creator of the Holt Coaching Method as well as the founder and leader of the LinkedIn Group - Executive Women´s Growth Forum.
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