A Guide to Finding a Coach

October 19, 2022
Minute Read
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This is Part 1 in our two-part coaching series, which looks at best practices for finding a coach as well as connecting with the credentials to become a coach.

The field of business coaching is difficult to navigate.

There are currently no industry standards or regulatory bodies to give guidance on which of the thousands of coaches in the nearly $2 billion industry in the U.S are legitimate. (The International Coaching Federation is currently the “gold standard,” but it is not regulated).

In this sea of coaches, finding the right one is often hard work, requiring searching for recommendations, trialing several coaches to find a fit, and then the difficult task of building a working relationship.

Why Find a Coach to Begin With?

First, what are the benefits of coaching programs? Why should anyone think of becoming or looking for a coach?

The answer is in the research. In general, coaches improve skills across self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-leadership.

  • Organizations with strong coaching cultures showed increases in internal promotions, employee engagement, and higher retention rates in high-performers. —Joint ICF and HCI study on coaching culture
  • Coaching is seen to have positive effects on work performance, coping, and goal-setting. –Theeboom, The Journal of Positive Psychology
  • Women who are offered opportunities to seek coaching saw increases in self-awareness, positive changes in their perspectives on power and conflict, and progress in their roles in organizations. –Bonneywell, International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring

Across a diverse body of research, coaching has a significant impact on an individual's performance in an organization. Not only does it increase their progress and emotional intelligence, but it also helps them build better relationships with their own teams and the leadership of their organizations.

However, the foundation to all this success is two key items that the individual brings into their coaching experience:

  • A willingness to be coached and engage.
  • Finding a coach and making sure that there is good chemistry between the pair. (Scoular, Harvard Business Review)

How to Find a Coach

Coaching is a heavily unregulated field, so individuals can offer coaching services with little to no experience or credentials. Here is what you need to do.

Make sure you are committed.

In addition to rapport with your coach, your own commitment is the other crucial factor in finding success. Evaluate whether a coach is what you need. List out what you want from your relationship with the coach. If it is tending toward more emotional and psychological needs, it may be better to see someone who focuses more on psychology or counseling.*

*People commonly misconstrue the difference between coaches, consultants, and therapists. While these roles
are interwoven, they are not quite the same.

  • A coach is not a subject matter expert, but they are trained in getting you to be an expert in your position and focus more on questioning rather than answering.
  • A consultant is a subject matter expert and someone an individual can lean on for advice or expertise.
  • A therapist helps you understand something from the past or trauma that influences your present.

Use your list.

Now that you have your list of what you want from your coaching relationship, use it to shape what kind of coach you are looking for and impact questions you can ask when interviewing possible coaches. Think through the below list as you prepare to meet with potential coaches:

  • What are the key values you are looking for in a coach?
  • Do you want to develop a relationship in-person, or will an all-virtual relationship work
    for you?
  • What is the coach’s approach to their work? Do they use or follow a specific methodology exclusively, or do they pull from multiple ideologies in a bespoke plan?
  • What are your coaching goals? Do you want a coach to help you through a specific situation at work, or do you need more general career pathing and guidance in your role?

Start your search.

Once you know what you are looking for, go to your networks to find good recommendations. Use LinkedIn, or ask your manager or leaders in your organization if they work with someone who could be a good fit. Use resources like the International Coaching Federation’s certified coach search to find individuals in your area. As you search, begin whittling down your list to 3-5 coaches who you think would be a good match for your needs.

Build an evaluation process.

Once you have created a list of 3-5 coaches, plan your first meeting with them. Use your impact questions to guide the conversation and make sure they can meet your needs. Bring these to each possible coach so you have clear benchmarks to measure who will be the most beneficial coach for you. Do not hesitate to ask them for their formal Coaching Philosophy or Coaching Commitments.

Do not settle.

Once you choose a coach, make sure the relationship feels right. If you have 2-3 sessions and are not making progress, reassess the relationship. Some coaches will have a minimum agreement term, so this may be tougher in some circumstances. However, most coaches will be open to ending a relationship if it is not going well. If you need to, go back to step #1 and reaffirm your own commitment and needs.

Impact Questions for Coaches

  1. What is your overall coaching philosophy?
  2. What is an example of work you have done with a client that you are most proud of?
  3. Since starting your coaching career, what is the one way you have grown most as a professional? As a person?
  4. What commitments do you make to your coaching clients?

The Ethos Approach to Coaching

Coaching is just one of the services that Ethos provides clients to help them reach their full potential. In our practice:

  • We use our research-focused mindset and industry knowledge to shape an experience based on the specific needs of each, individual coaching client. It is our belief that coaches should act as mirrors to their clients, showing them another view of themselves.
  • We act as both students and teachers, understanding that there are multiple solutions to every problem. Finding the best solution is not about being right as the coach but guiding our clients to the answer that resonates most strongly with their needs and values.

As Ethos continues to grow and offer resources to our clients, coaching has been an incredible option for us to make a significant impact in organizations, both at the individual level and in taking those lessons to construct company-wide training.


Finding a good coach is difficult work. The best way forward is often through preparation, research, and trial. Ethos offers a number of options for coaching. If you think it could be a fit, do not hesitate to reach out to us
at info@ethostalent.com.

Check out Part 2 of this series if you are interested in the credentials and skills it takes to become a business coach.

Are you ready to create a culture of belonging in your organization?

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