I keep encountering coach certification programs that start with the words: “Do you have the right qualities to be a life coach” or something like “can you be a life coach?”. What are the requirements to become a life coach?
I strongly believe that anybody can be a life coach. Just like everybody can be a teacher or a writer. I’m not comparing between coaching and writing, but just like everybody who set his mind to learning how to become a writer can do it, so does someone who decides that he wants to learn how to be a life coach, can do it.
Just like any profession or skill, the quality of the service provided, depends entirely on the person who renders that service. Just as there are qualities that someone possesses that would help him be a better writer, there are certain qualities that would help a person render service as a life coach. This doesn’t mean that there are people who can be a life coach and some who can’t; it just means that if you are naturally inclined to certain qualities, then coaching would come easier for you.
Below are the main qualities I believe a good coach should have. Each one of the qualities below can be improved and trained. So in case you feel you are lacking in one of the fields, don’t worry (!) all you need to improve any of the below qualities is just the will to do it and some practice
The qualities are in no particular order. I believe all of them are important for a good coach. This doesn’t mean, however, that if a coach doesn’t possess any of the qualities, then he is not a good coach.
When turning to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, solidarity is defined as
a feeling of unity between people who have the same interests, goals, etc.
A good coach works together with its client, to achieve goals. It’s important that the coach would identify with the goals that were set, and feel as though the goals are his own. This would build trust and ambition for both the client and the coach.
It’s important to remember, though, that too much of identifying with the goals and client might affect the coach’s ability to help. The coach is not the client’s friend. He is there to help him, support him, and bring the best out of him. In order to do that, it’s important that the coach would have the ability to look from the sidelines on the coaching process, and too much solidarity might affect that.
The ability to listen is vital for a good coach. Without the ability to listen, the coach might not be able to understand the client’s situation, and know how to aim the clients actions.
You hear with your ears. You listen with your emotions.
When the coach truly listens, he can identify with the client’s wants and needs and understand them better. This would create better process and guidance.
Empathy is the ability to experience something from another person’s point of view, without having to go through the experience yourself. It’s a huge asset for a coach to be able to understand his client’s feelings during a certain experience, as it strengthens the bond between the coach and client, and increases the chances of the process to succeeded.
Awareness (of self and client)
Being aware is extremely important to for coach. A lot of information is being transferred in conversation in a non-verbal manner. Capturing these signs and interpreting them correctly can provide many insights into the feelings and desires of the client.
In addition, during the session the client is enthralled in the thinking and discovery process, and he doesn’t pay attention to many things he himself say or does. These nuances also provide important information to the coach, and being aware as they happen can also affect the course of the session
High EQ (emotional intelligence)
According to Wikipedia, Emotional Intelligence (and the scale that measures it – EQ) is described as:
a term used to describe the ability of an individual to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior
Emotional intelligence is necessary for a coach to understand what the client is going through RIGHT NOW. It’s the emotional compass which enables the coach to understand the current state the client is in. This quality is vital in determining how the session is progressing, and where, emotionally, the client is found.
Authenticity means being who you are. No more, and no less. Pretending to be something you are not, will only hurt the trust and the relationship between the coach and the client. Being who you are means firstly living in the current moment. Living in the moment and truly listen to the client is the key to elevating the client and helping him. And that is ultimately what coaching is all about
There is no place for any criticism or judgment in a coaching session. Everything the client does have already been done, and that’s OKAY. There is no need to explain or justify any of the actions that already took place. A coach just takes what is said and done during the session, and reflects them to the client AS IS. Any outside interference in the form of the coach’s opinions on the actions/words will only interfere in the process
Desire to be of service
The desire to help other people is the quality that touches every other quality on the list. It
is the true want to elevate the client to places that he never thought he could reach, and the desire to help define the blocks that prevent the client from taking actions on what’s important for him. The impact of the actions taken by the coach, on the client, will be determined by the desire of the coach to really help its client
This is not really a quality, but more of a skill. The coaching process should be as clean as possible. This is achieved on the side of the coach by letting go of all his experience, and knowledge, and just immerse himself in the moment. This enables the ability to listen to the client, and hear and see everything from HIS point of view, without any thoughts or opinions that come from the coach.
This is one of the hardest things to achieve in a good coaching session. And all though it gets easier with time, and training, letting go completely requires a lot of faith and trust, and sometimes it’s a bit scary, but it’s essential for a good coach to be able to do this.
This list is what I believe a good coach should have. If you think of any other qualities I should include, or if you have any experiences with a coach which made one of the qualities above stand out, feel free to write about it in the comments below