Three Ways to Know When Coaching is Right for You

Mic Berman

October 27, 2016

As a certified coach, people often ask me how to know if they could benefit from coaching. Many think it’s just for executives and high-profile leaders they’ve heard use it, like Eric Schmidt and Mark Zuckerberg – and then they assume they aren’t senior enough or can’t afford it. Some think of coaching with its old stigma (“If I need a coach something is wrong with me”). Some confuse coaching with mentoring or therapy.

None of these assumptions hold any truth whatsoever. After spending nearly two decades in the corporate world and the past several years as an executive coach, there are three things I look for when deciding whether someone will benefit from coaching. These things have nothing to do with corporate title or experience level. They have everything to do with who you are as a person – whether or not you want to grow as an individual and how hard you’re willing to work to achieve your goals.

  1. You’re ready for a change that you want to instigate.

    You can see it, feel it, taste it. It may be a big promotion you’ve set your sights on or a complete career change. Doesn’t matter if you’re 25 or 65, running a business or working at a convenience store. You have the desire and the drive; now you need experienced, unbiased support for the what and the how.

  2. You’re facing a new challenge and you know what you don’t know.

    You’ve been placed in a new job or a role that requires you to operate at a higher level of performance, leadership and emotional intelligence than ever before, and you realize you don’t have all the answers. Often this scenario includes managing former peers and managing “up” – skill sets that take time and focus to develop according to your unique strengths and personality, and which benefit greatly from having an experienced guide.

  3. You’ve realized the biggest obstacle to reaching your goals is you.

    Almost everyone has a self-saboteur – an inner voice of doom that keeps them from achieving their best – and a lot of people aren’t ready for the self-introspection required to tame it. You know you’re ready for coaching when you realize that the pep talks, promises and scolding you regularly give yourself aren’t working, and you’re finally ready to do the hard work required to tame your gremlin once and for all.

Each of these scenarios requires asking and honestly answering questions about who you are and what you truly want – not what your boss, spouse or parents want. If you can’t be honest about yourself and what makes you tick, your success will be limited at best, and it’s just a matter of when – not if – you hit a dead end. Why? Because highly effective people leverage their distinctive abilities, strengths and ways of interacting with others to achieve great things, versus trying to adopt versions of themselves they can never maintain, especially under pressure.

What to Expect from Coaching

People often think that being coached requires showing up for a conversation once a week or every two weeks and having a discussion about work issues. In reality, coaching uses a rigorous methodology of inquiry, called powerful questions, that’s designed to help uncover your unique personality and strengths, and it does so not by giving you the answers but by helping you learn to ask and answer the right questions on your own. Participating in this process can be either enjoyable or challenging, depending on your personality; it requires deep reflection about your fears and weaknesses, what within you is holding you back, and what behaviours you need to own in order to change your situation.

If you’d like to talk about how we can help, please reach out to me at

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