An interesting article from Inc. Magazine – honest! The October issue to be precise. It suggests four different coach areas; media, business/executive, negotiation and life ones. As with any categorisation there is some simplification. The first point I want to make is that you are sure that you know what you are looking for. It is easy to confuse a coach and a mentor. A mentor knows about the industry and the task so is good for asking advice. A coach, on the other hand, will be more demanding of you making you work harder identifying what you want and then finding ways to achieve it which may include how to overcome some of your own issues. A good coach may well be both having had personal experience as well as having worked with people in a similar situation.

Media coaches will help you with your presentations and developing your communication skills both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’.

Business/executive coaches. Here do distinguish between the two as the skills are very different especially between smaller and larger organisations. Business coaches tend to work mainly on the growth of the company; strategy, structure etc. and executive one focus more on the individual and their leadership.  Of course, there can be quite a bit of overlap as if the leaders are not growing neither will the company.

Negotiation coaches have very specialist skills, some quite technical, and are used in very specific situations. They may not be coaches but rather bankers or corporate advisors for example.

Life coaches work with you and what you want in your life which is broader than your job. They will get you to examine yourself more deeply and get you to ask bigger questions. Many of the better ones will have an understanding of psychology. Life coaching is not for the faint hearted!

The article also suggests when you may want to use a coach and breaks it down to three reasons.

1. Changing when in a period of transition

2. Fixing recurrent issues

3. Adding new skills

Of course, there are many different scenarios, most of which are confused and may be overlapping. Starting to work it all out with a coach is often a good place to start and usually much cheaper than bringing in consultants or other professionals. Many people find it easier to spot the need for coaching for one of their colleagues but if you want changes it is usually best to start with yourself.

A useful article which sets out a simple structure to help you decide when and what sort of coach you need. Of course,  a chat with me may well be easier and quicker!

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