Finding the Right Coach for You

As the use of executive coaching grows in Thailand, there are many executives who, having seen how coaches have helped other executives in similar positions achieve great success, and are considering engaging one for themselves. However, while they are making this decision, most are probably unsure about how to select a coach for themselves.

“is choosing a coach like choosing a doctor?”

Could this be like selecting a doctor? You go to the hospital and if you have something mild, the General Practitioner gives you a prescription and off you go to get better. If its something more serious, you get sent to a specialist based on what the problem is and they can hopefully fix it for you.. The difficulty with this approach when it comes to coaching is you don’t want to be spending time going from coach to coach until you find the right one.

Is it more like choosing a car? You decide on the brand based on its reputation and feedback from other people you trust, and make your choice? In a way, this is how people choose consulting firms. The problem with approach, is that unless you are choosing based on an individual’s reputation, you may end up suffering the old “bait and switch” trick where you choose a company because of the good standing of its top person or, on occasion, people, but in fact, you end up with someone who just happens to available at the time. You may be lucky, you may not. And in the coaching world, membership with one of the bigger self-proclaimed “accreditation” organisations is no guarantee of actual quality.

“is google the best way to find the right coach?”

Choosing a coach to work with probably has similarities to many selection processes that we go through in our lives, and different people may use different techniques. However, because the choice of a coach can often have a significant impact on your career and potentially your life generally, it is an important decision and needs to be made carefully.

So what does an executive who is in the market for a coach do? Does he put out an advert in the Bangkok Post and wait for the best fitting coach to come to him? Does she just google coaches in his area and make a random selection? Any executive who is successful enough to be in a position to get a coach is unlikely to be so irrational. He could just ask his friends who are in the same position as he is about their experiences and ask for referrals, or he could ask his HR people to suggest someone. While both of these latter options have merit, the relatively small selection of coaches available in Thailand, and the even smaller group who live here and understand the culture while also having an international perspective, makes it more of a challenge than it might be in other parts of the world.


“it is essential to look carefully at a coach’s experience and background”

Whatever the method used, it is essential that the executive has a clear set of criteria that he can use to help him decide which coach to engage with. Having been on both sides of the fence, as an external coach now, and previously being responsible for the selection and contracting of coaches into a very large corporation, I have found that there are some basic fundamentals that an executive needs to ensure are present in any selection that he or she makes:

1. Business Experience – Coaching as a formal profession is very young, and at this point there is no formal global or even national agency that manages the quality of coaches in the market in same way that there are legal qualification boards in almost every country for medical doctors, or actuaries, or accountants. There is really no quick way to check the level of expertise a coach has merely by checking a title or membership of an coaching association.

Also, because coaches come from so many different professional backgrounds, such as psychology, business, sales and in some instances nothing more than a 2 month coaching course, it is essential to look deeper into the person’s background to ensure that they have the right background and experience to work with you professionally and effectively. While a coach, unlike a mentor, does not need to understand the technicalities of your business at the level of an expert, it is very helpful if he or she has had some type of business experience, having worked in corporates or other types of companies.

“avoid someone who is easy to be with because they don’t challenge you”

The coach may come from a similar functional background or something completely different, but as they not working with you on technical issues but rather on helping you more strategic and interpersonal challenges, they mainly just need to understand corporate dynamic and how they can affect your performance so they can guide you through them more effectively. For example coaches who come from an entrepreneurial or start-up background may focus on helping young entrepreneurs as they kick-off their business but may not be as effective with CEOs of large multinationals.

2. Methodology – It is important that the coach understand the process of coaching and can articulate it clearly. This is not about giving a step by step account of what will happen in the coaching, as this will be influenced by the client and the challenges being faced, but the coach should be able to communicate and share the framework that they use, the timeframes that they generally work within, the type of work and challenges that they have experience in dealing with, and the broad framework of the process. This is to ensure that you are being taken on an actual, measurable, goal-focused journey, rather than a meandering personal conversation with no clear objectives.

3. Fit -this does not mean that you need to like the coach, and in fact, it is expected that a coach can challenge you and move you you from your comfort zone (albeit in a respectful and humane way), otherwise they would not be doing their job, but it is important that you believe that this a person that you can work with and that you can comfortably and securely share confidences with and be completely open to. If you cannot, the coaching process will at best be slowed down and at worst completely ineffective.

4. Flexibility – different problems require different approaches but there are many coaches who will focus only on one technique or approach because that is all they know. While expertise in specific tools and approaches is very important, it is just as essential that the coach will be able to work with you in a way that best suits you and the challenge you are currently facing. The old saying that the person with a hammer sees every problem as a nail is apropos.

5. Gravitas – The coach should come across as credible, both in their experiences and background, and in person. They should be seen to take their role as a senior sounding board seriously.

Psychological Awareness – While coaches should not be expected to be psychologists, and they should never be doing therapy with clients, a strong foundational understanding of psychological theory and its practical use is essential to achieve everything from building rapport to influencing the coachee within ethical bounds.

There are many other things that may be important in your own selection of a coach, but don’t let that stop you from finding one soon and focusing on taking your performance to the next level!

For a free consultation with no expectations, please get in touch. If we do not have the right coach for you, we will gladly help you find them.

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