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  • Writer's pictureNikki Trotter, MS, M.A., SHRM-CP, ACC

Many coaches are called, but not all should be chosen

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Hiring a professional coach is one of the most important things that you can do for the growth and development of your career. But the same due diligence that you would take for seeking out a dentist, a lawyer, or a medical doctor is the same care that you should take when it comes to hiring a coach. Coaches don’t perform medical procedures, nor do they defend you in court from a high-priced lawsuit. But what they do is equally as important. Coaches are hired to help you make life-changing transformations in both your personal and professional life. That means sharing and revealing some of your innermost secrets as well as your deepest hopes and darkest fears. I have had clients tell me that they have “never” discussed the things that they have shared with me with their spouse or their closest family or friends. That speaks volumes. Therefore, this illustrates the vital importance of being certain that the person that you call coach; and that you invite into your life is a professional that is not only tried, tested and true but they are worthy of your invitation, and they have earned the right to be hired and be called your COACH. Therefore, I feel compelled to outline 10 questions that you should use when questioning and considering potential coaches for hire.

1. What is your coaching experience (number of individuals coached, years of experience, types of coaching situations, etc.)? This question is extremely important because the coaching industry is NOT regulated. Therefore, anyone can “call” themselves a coach. If you search LinkedIn, you will find hundreds of profiles with the word “coach” in them. An experienced coach should have years of experience as a coach with a proven track record of success as a coach.

2. What is your coach-specific training (an ICF-accredited training program, other coach-specific training, etc.)? Professionally trained coaches have hundreds if not thousands of hours of coach training. They have completed an approved training program that requires rigorous professional standards which includes coaching hours, mentorship, supervision, competency assessment, exams, and an assessment of your coaching skills and abilities. This also includes strict adherence to the strong code of ethics. There is a reason that a coaching certification is coveted and sought-after certification and credential.

3. What is your coaching specialty or areas in which you most often work? Understanding a potential coach’s coaching specialty is also important because you would be much better served by hiring a coach that specializes in an area in which you are seeking to be coached. Why? This is beneficial because this means that this coach has a lot of experience working with clients like you; and/or they have been coaching similar issues and challenges that you are facing. This is not so much about them being able to provide you with the answers or offer solutions, as much as it is about having more up close and personal experience with the experience and understanding of your coaching subject matter.

4. What types of organizations do you work with most often? And, at what levels (executives, upper management, middle management, etc.)? If you are looking for a leadership coach, it would best serve you to know what type of leaders and what types of industries and organizational the coach has experience with. Especially if the coach is going to be working with coaching teams and needs to understand the cultures in which they work. Because let’s face it, different industries have very different cultures. In addition, there is also a very different dynamic to coaching an Executive leader with years of experience vs. coaching a brand new leader. Therefore, the more experience and understanding a coach has within a respective industry and level of leadership, the more effective they will be as a coach.

5. What types of assessments are you certified to deliver? Assessments and coaching go together like a hand and a glove. A coach should be not only certified but extremely efficient in their ability to facilitate and interpret the results of a personality or leadership survey. The results of these surveys are often used to assist the coach and the client in creating goals and objectives for the coaching relationship. So, if a coach is unable to analyze and interpret their feedback or the results of the assessment, this could impact the coaching outcomes. This could in turn be extremely harmful to you and your career.

6. What are some of your coaching success stories (specific examples of clients who have succeeded because of coaching)? An experienced and successful coach should be able to demonstrate their current and past successes for a potential client. This means presenting references, case studies, recommendations, etc. They should also be able to articulate what outcomes and return on investment the client will receive by hiring them as their coach.

7. Are you an ICF Member? Do you hold an ICF Credential? There is only one gold standard professional coaching association: The International Coaching Federation (ICF). They are the leading global organization with 35,000-plus professional coaches, and the only independent and internationally recognized coach credentialing program. It is the crème de la crème of coaching. Therefore, if you are seeking to hire a coach, make sure that they are certified and credentialed through ICF. If you look at LinkedIn, you will find many individuals that profess to be “certified” but this does not mean that they are certified via ICF. They may hold a certificate of completion of their coaching training, or they may just be calling themselves certified. However, you will need to be 100% sure that they are a credentialed and certified coach through ICF. Most importantly, if they are not a certified coach, they are not held to the code of ethics. This means that you may be hiring a coach that is unethical and can be breaking the law. So make sure that you are protecting your career, your development, and your career by hiring a coach that will uphold the integrity of its clients as well as the integrity of the coaching profession. For more information on the International Coaching Federation (ICF), check them out at

For a confidential coaching conversation, please contact me at

Nikki Trotter is the Founder and CEO of IO, LLC., a transformational coaching company. I specialize in coaching professional women in leadership from the front line to the C-Suite. I help my clients master the art of resilient leadership to take control of their careers with courage, clarity, and confidence.

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