• Anne Ward

Finding the Right Coach


Just as a sports coach can help you improve your game on the field, personal and business coaching can enhance your performance in life. One of the reasons that coaching works is that people learn best when they work on real-life issues, combining existing know-how with new skills and insight, to tackle opportunities and challenges that impact personal and business success.

More than Motivation

Just engaging a coach can bring with it feelings of motivation and renewed focus. This is known as the expectancy effect. It works similarly to a placebo, in that just taking action brings about a change in mindset. However, coaching can provide far more than motivation and focus. It can help build a range of skills, greater awareness of one’s personal style and how this shapes behaviour and effectiveness.

So before engaging a coach it pays to think through exactly what you are seeking and understand how to find a coach who can meet that need.

Coaching for Small Business

These days many people work in some form of self-employment. In fact, small business represents the most common form of business in Australia, accounting for approximately 43% of private sector employment. Small business is the economic lifeblood of our community. Self-reliance, personal initiative and autonomy are among the qualities that attract people to business ownership, yet managing a business involves multiple demands, including business uncertainty, competition and work overload.

Recent research showed that over a third of small business owners experience high levels of stress. Due to multiple roles and their sense of responsibility to employees, small business owners may continue to attend work rather than seek assistance. This can result in presenteeism – being physically present at work, but mentally absent. While a lot of effort has been invested in supporting mental health in the general workplace, small business owners may not know how to find the right kind of assistance.

In addition to improving personal effectiveness, coaching can be helpful in managing stress, exhaustion and preventing burnout. Coaching can, therefore, be a wise preventative health strategy. Coaching can provide business managers with an edge by raising awareness of ingrained patterns of behaviour that others may be working around, yet which none-the-less, may be limiting creativity, innovation and productivity.

Buyer Beware

Coaching is an unregulated industry. This means that anyone, regardless of their training or expertise, can call themselves a coach. There are different types of coaching, including business coaching, life coaching, performance coaching and executive coaching. Each has a specific focus and requires different skills and qualities on the part of the coach.

Qualities to Look for in a Coach

Coaching is more than a conversation. Qualities to look for in a coach include:

1. Expertise in terms of qualifications, experience and professional affiliations 2. Ability to grasp the different aspects of your challenges 3. Appreciation of your personal/business context 4. A good listener 5. Able to identify and explain the personal and business strategies for change to be addressed as part of a coaching plan 6. Able to work with emotions as required 7. Coaching process grounded in relevant business, psychology/behavioural sciences, adult learning principles 8. Is flexible and can provide a tailored approach 9. Able to challenge and provide constructive feedback 10. The coach stays within the limits of their competence and maintains professional boundaries

Anne Ward is an executive coach and principal psychologist of Mindinsight, providing evidence-based coaching and psychology services to individuals and organisations. Phone 4942 7660 or visit www.mindinsight.com.au or for more.

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