I remember not too long ago when pop singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter made a song called “Bow Down.” Due to the song’s lyrics, there were some comments made that she was sending a double message to one day preach “girl power” and the next day to call other women b****** and tell them to “bow down.” While most of the critics were buried with accusations of being “haters,” there was some validity to the criticism. It does send a double message no matter how much some want to justify and excuse away the behavior. How does this relate to the coaching industry?
As an observer of the industry over the past 2 years, I have seen glaring inconsistencies between what coaches preach and what they practice. I have personally experienced them on a couple of occasions. In order to help another entrepreneur prevent the mistakes I made, here are some things to look out for in a business or life coach before hiring them:
4 Things to Watch Out For Before Hiring a Business or Life Coach
1. Not doing what they say they will do.
This person has no follow through. They tell you one thing, and then they do another or they do not do anything at all. This is a sign of a lack of integrity. Whether a one time session or an on-going program, the coach should deliver on every promise she made. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having hired the coach before noticing the behavior, a solution is to not work with them after the contract agreement ends.
2. Overstating skill set or clout in the business world.
This is a form of false advertising. If you happen to offer services to the wrong person, you may find yourself on the unfortunate end of a lawsuit. This is easily preventable by simply telling the truth. No exaggeration necessary. This also entails falsifying receipt of industry awards and making up new awards in order for the coach to make herself look like an “expert” and gain more clients. Is there really a “Master Coach of Infinity and Beyond Award?”
3. Not delivering a service for which you have already paid.
I have found myself in a situation where I paid all of my money- upfront- for two sessions. I never had the second meeting although I contacted the “coach” to ask when she would fulfill the agreement. My take home lesson was to be more careful before jumping on a “limited time” offer.
4. Being a business or life coach who fails to treat people with respect.
It is in poor taste to speak to clients- or anyone- in a disrespectful and condescending manner. I have been both the onlooker and recipient of the wrath of a business coach who probably believes just as Beyonce says, we should have bowed down to her because she was the coach. If you are a business or life coach, people expect you to have your life together to the point where you do not conduct yourself in such an unprofessional manner. The coach who behaves in this way discredits herself and can cause people to distrust and dislike her. Furthermore, if word gets around of the behavior- and it will eventually get around- the coach can find herself in a business drought. No one wants to work with an unprofessional coach.
Being an entrepreneur, I have become very- and sometimes painfully- aware of the mantra that a business and/or life coach is a necessary component of making it in business. I am not being dismissive of the industry. I know that there are some great coaches and there are people at every stage who may need one in some capacity. I know that no man is an island, and everyone needs help at some point. Nevertheless, it is my professional and personal experience that the necessity of a business coach for success is highly exaggerated when there are other options such as a well-seasoned mentor.
The danger in this over emphasis on the necessity of a business coach is that people are rushing out to hire one who may not be a good fit for them or their business. When you feel pressure, slow down. Do not make any decisions based upon emotion baiting. Many of them have gone to expert training and are good at tugging on your fears and ego. Always remember that there are other options to grow your business. If you are a Christian, the first option should be the Holy Spirit.