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What is business coaching?

There are an awful lot of people out there today calling themselves business coaches. Without any real professional accreditations or associations, it’s hard to know who to trust. Not just about their methodology or the quality of the training, but about their approach to business and life in general. It’s a deeply personal engagement and on some level you’re buying who they are and why they do what they do.

Business Coaching is a relationship. It’s a place where you go for guidance, support, and challenge so you can figure out what’s in the way of creating the business you want. Business Coaching is not just about having a trusted guide, they also have to have the right map.

We’ve been at it for 35 years, and have helped over 70,000 businesses transform. We know what it takes.

It’s about asking you the right questions in the right moments from a place of real competence, so that you become a better leader for the sake of your business, your employees and your bottom line. Great coaching helps you build a company culture based on ownership and accountability, and backs up the right ideas with real tools to put theory and tools into practice.

A Trusted Partnership

Business coaching is not consulting, and it’s also not therapy - it’s right between the two. A good business coach is someone you can trust that has the acumen to be able to diagnose specific and systemic issues in your business, but who has the strength to wait for you to deliver on the solution instead of jumping in and doing it for you.

Being a good listener is half the equation, but a coach can’t help you unless they understand what makes a good business good and a great business great.

Being smart about business is half the equation, but a coach can’t help you unless they care about people and really want to get to know you personally.

Great coaches are patient - their job is to help you get clear on what needs to happen next, but they wait for you to take action. And of course, they hold your feet to the fire on your goals. A great coach lives by one rule: that you already have the fundamental ingredient to transform your business - which is the ability to change your relationship to it.

Curiosity and Courage

Great coaching is equal parts curiosity and courage. Curiosity to look in each and every corner of your business to find the root cause for why things are stuck or stagnating. Great coaches understand that you want the truth, even if it stings a bit or takes a little longer to achieve.

The Goal Is Obsolescence

A business coach with integrity wants to make themselves obsolete. Their passion is to show you how to do for yourself what you need their help for today - which is to become a real-time diagnostician of what your business needs next. Like any good helping relationship, it’s a bit of a paradox. Your coach makes money by you staying on as a client, and at the same time their success is determined by whether you need them less over time. A coach with integrity is up front about this, because they’re confident enough in their own abilities to know that after they help you with “Level 1” (what you need to change) you’ll want to continue on to “Level 2” (what you want to change).

How Good Is Your Coach?

Here’s how you should evaluate every meeting with your coach, and the relationship overall:

  1. Do they meet you where you are? Are they comfortable being with what’s real in the moment - whether that’s to celebrate a success or really be there with you when something goes wrong.
  2. Do they know where they are? Do they have a proven map that they use to ask the right questions for your specific business in the specific stage it’s in? (Don’t assume because they have “coach” on their business card that they have a real plan or any real training.)
  3. Can they hold a long term vision while they help you fix today’s problems? Do they notice patterns and trends or are they just reacting to today’s frustrations? You want wise counsel, not quick fixes.
  4. Do they make you more curious and hungry? Their way of thinking about things should be infectious, you should find yourself asking other people the kinds of questions they ask you.
  5. Do they understand what coaching is? Watch out for consultants in disguise and amateur therapists.
  6. Do they have the guts to make you mad? They should be willing to fire you if you don’t honor your commitment to yourself to show up, do the work and make changes.
  7. Do they hide behind lingo, lists or tricks? It should never be complicated to translate the work you do with your coach into your daily life. Hard maybe, but not complicated.

A great coach is a lot of things - but the best way to say it is that they’re not your best friend, they’re the business’ best friend - and that’s a partnership where everybody wins.

Learn more about working with an EMyth Coach.

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Jonathan Raymond

Written by Jonathan Raymond

Jonathan was a frequent contributor to the EMyth blog from 2011-2015. His articles focus on marketing, branding, and organizational culture.