The headline of this post makes me feel lousy. Like I am dissing other coaches who I feel are not the real deal.  But the post has been brewing within me and I must let it loose.  I recently had an experience with a rogue coach that left a bad taste in my mouth, and I want to help you to avoid the same.

These days I am coaching a lot online.  I believe that coaching via technology is a skill that needs mastering in the same way that face-to-face coaching needs mastering.  It offers us coaches a wonderful opportunity to reach out to clients who travel, who live and work remotely, who are far too busy to spend idle hours in the traffic getting to and from coaching meetings.  And it’s very effective.  Because I want to ensure that I know the best online tools and techniques to use, I have started a Facebook group where other coaches and those interested in coaching online meet to discuss best practice.  Recently,  Coach X enquired about the group and I took it as a wonderful opportunity to connect with an unknown colleague in a profession that I value so much.  We began a conversation.  Coach X shared that Coach X runs an immensely successful coaching practice and that people pay $10,000 per seat to attend Coach X’s personal mastery programs. Wow!  I was impressed.  And, I was skeptical.  Coach X had no proof to validate these claims other than a lovely website with some extraordinarily good testimonials about Coach X’s coaching from people…who didn’t exist.  Yes – they didn’t exist.  Because I had some free time on my hands on that particular day I researched all the testimonials on Coach X’s webpage to discover that none of those people existed.  Some few days later, this same coach asked me if I would like to join a group that Coach X had created specifically focused to coaches like me.  I checked out the link.  It was a rip-off – a misrepresentation of a leading professional coaching group.  It was not real.  Coach X was using the name of the professional coaching group to entice clients in.  And so our friendship ended.

Choosing a coach is not something you take lightly.  Investing money with your coach and trusting the coaching process is a commitment.  How can you tell if you are making the right choice?  How can you recognise the charlatan coach?

Do they coach real people?

Ask your potential coach to put you in touch with one or two people who they have coached.  They should be happy to do so.  Personal references carry weight and will help you to understand your potential coach’s style and how others have experienced working with them.

Are they qualified to do what they say they can do?

Some coaches choose to not qualify formally.  Some have years of experience in leadership or mentoring or training and this qualifies them appropriately.  Some take specialised training and secure formal qualifications in the coaching field. Don’t be shy to ask your potential coach where and what they studied and how their knowledge or training might benefit you.

Do they make claims they can substantiate?

Some coaches charge a great deal of money for their services and seminars.  I applaud that!  But are they worth it?  Some coaches may tell you that they will unleash your true potential and help you to live out your dreams.  That’s awesome. Still, beware of the guru coaches.  Be realistic when putting your expectations into someone else.