Q: One of my friends has begun referring to himself as a life coach, and has even been offering his services for sale. I have known him for a long time, and I am now wondering what it really means to be a life coach and what skills are required to become one. Do life coaches really help? To whom would you recommend this kind of coaching?
With people from nearly all backgrounds currently wearing it, it can be difficult to fathom the value that the title “life coach” truly confers. It seems as though the title does not require any special professional or academic qualifications to attain but merely self-declaration, which creates suspicion that the coaching profession is an occupational hiding place for anyone wishing to offer any sort of guidance to fellow human beings.
Have you asked your friend what coaching is about or researched the subject for yourself? The notion of coaching is probably more familiar in the context of sports where a coach helps players prepare for and pursue their sporting dreams. Conventional literature describes a coach as an individual capable of holding a safe yet provocative space for a coachee to reflect, discover insights, find clarity, chart a way forward and take appropriate action in pursuit of certain personal or professional objectives. Coaches neither prescribe solutions for coachees nor enter the pitch to play. Instead, they prod and nudge.
Has your friend been formally trained to coach? Has he acquired the applicable qualifications? There are reputable coaching institutions that accredit coaches such as the Academy of Executive Coaching and International Coach Federation. Needless to state, some people have erected backyard stalls and made virtual offers that purport to lend professional coaching qualifications. As with other trades, coaching has its share of charlatans. It is therefore best to verify the suitability of an individual’s credentials before subscribing to their coaching services.
And yes, coaching can especially be useful in helping individuals become more self-aware and take actions that enable them meet their personal or professional objectives. It works. Numerous successful executives and business people profess that their accomplishments are in part owed to the value that coaches have introduced in their lives. I however leave you to judge whether your friend is merely an aspiring or indeed a suitable coach.
Fred Gituku is a Human Resources Practitioner; [email protected]