I brand myself as a communication coach. It’s my way of saying I use my understanding of people skills and my skills as a coach to help people improve their communication and from there, get all sorts of cool results.
There are many coaches out there. And there are a hell of a lot more people who want, or at least dream about being coaches. My perception is that people often jump into this field with the same understanding about being a coach that a 10-year old has about being a brain surgeon. I know I certainly had my naivety about this field when I started coaching others careers and people skills.
This is not all caused by lack of available information about coaching. One major cause is the existence in all this information of many widespread myths about being a coach. My goal here is to address 3 of the major ones.
Myth 1: It’s all about love for people.
Love for people is definitely a big part of being a coach. But it’s not all about that. Coaching is also a business and you need to run in like one. This means you care about people, you help them, maybe you even help unconditionally or give more than you get, but at the end of the day, you make sure it’s financially profitable for you as the coach.
I’ve met coaches who believed that if they give all, love all and ask for nothing, they will be successful coaches. They are now working in recruitment, PR, anything but coaching. Because they didn’t make it sustainable for them to be coaches.
Myth 2: It’s all about asking questions.
Asking questions is an excellent way to facilitate solutions and an important tool for coaching. However, that’s not all there is to it.
There are basically 2 types of coaching: directive and non-directive. Non-directive coaching is based a lot on asking questions, but it doesn’t stop there. It also involves effective listening, paraphrasing, inspiring and stimulating your client. Directive coaching involves presenting principle and techniques, point out things the client does not see and giving him specific feedback or advice.
Some coaches have a non-directive approach, some have a directive approach and some have a mixed approach. I’m in this last category: I use whatever works for a particular client, to generate a particular outcome. If you want top results as a coach, you will need to have a quite large toolbox, with plenty of coaching tools you use masterfully.
Myth 3: Becoming a coach is easy.
If we’re talking about taking on the label of coach, sure: that’s easy. But if we’re talking about having the skills to coach people professionally, that’s a very different territory.
Some people and some companies want you to believe that being a coach is the next big thing. All you need is to care about others (which almost anybody thinks he does), get some formal training, coaching and certification (which they usually offer), then you’re off to making money, helping people and saving the world, all of this with a flexible schedule and from the comfort of your own home.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Becoming a good coach involves using the right tools, a lot of practice and the ability to consistently improve from one coaching session to another.
Even more importantly, being a really good coach is about understanding your unique combination of strengths and developing a unique coaching style which leverages those strengths, while at the same time providing top results. And did I mention, having fun with it?