Why Even Coaches Need Coaches

I truly believe that every single person can benefit from working with a coach — and that includes coaches themselves.

I speak from experience: I’ve hired several coaches over the years to help me with aspects of my business and my personal life. In one case, I hired a coach to help me find ways to market my business. In another case, I worked with a coach who supported me and helped me find ways to take my business up a notch. Last year, I hired a money coach to help me get my business finances in order and to help me reshape my mindset around money. That was a totally new experience for me and I found it incredibly helpful.

In almost all of my experiences with coaches, they’ve helped me see possibilities that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered. And equally important, they helped me understand what was already working really efficiently — the things I had perfected that I didn’t need to tweak.

My friend and fellow coach, Hana Ayoub, shared her thoughts with me about coaches hiring coaches. Like me, she’s a firm believer in the idea of coaches being powerful for everyone.

“I had been a consumer of coaching for about seven years before I pursued a career in coaching,” Hana says. “Being a client myself has shown me the immense value of working with a coach — I was able to tackle huge life decisions with clarity and confidence that set me up for success. I would not live in New York, have left my corporate job, or built a sustainable coaching practice if it wasn't for the coaches I've hired over the years.”

My story is similar: While my drive and desire to be a coach and independent professional would have persisted, much of the confidence I’ve developed and strategies I’ve employed have come out of productive discussions with coaches who understand me and my goals for my business.

Simply put, I think it’s not just worthwhile, but imperative, for coaches to be open to enlisting the help of other coaches to help them solve challenges and get unstuck. If you’re a coach who’s ready to work with a colleague in your field, here are three points to consider before you jump in.

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1. Find a coach whose style aligns with yours, but remember it doesn’t have to match exactly.

The challenge for me in finding a coach was that I wanted someone like me — someone who was going to be firm in holding me accountable and moving things forward in my life and business. While I wasn’t hung up on the idea of a coach’s style exactly matching mine, I did want my overall approach to generally align with theirs. I don’t get motivated when I feel like I’m being coddled, so I knew I needed coaches who held the same philosophy on accountability that I did.

At the same time, know that even if your coaching approach aligns perfectly with another coach, there might be other aspects of your personalities or work styles that don’t match. I worked with one business coach who took a long time to respond to emails and another who seemed kind of disorganized. In these two instances, it wasn’t our coaching styles that didn’t mesh. Even so, when I found myself getting anxious about our interactions, I knew it ultimately wasn’t a good fit. The same was true of a coach who infused spirituality and religion into our sessions. She would say, “God will get you through this,” and I’ve never wanted to hang up the phone so badly. It might have been a perfect thing to say to someone else, but it didn’t resonate with me or make me feel comfortable.

2. Do your best to be a client, not a colleague.

When I experience another person’s coaching style, I’m really aware and tuned into it. That’s just inevitable when you’re in the same field (you know how they say doctors are the worst patients!). But to the best of my ability, I try to step back and be a client, not a colleague. I want to reap the benefits their average client would receive. That’s why I went to them, after all.

It’s not always easy to take this step back, especially if your own approach is at odds with the other coach’s approach in some way. When this happens, I remind myself that I’m there to grow and gain strategies to move forward, and critiquing will only make me more stuck where I am. Plus, I respect that every coach has worked hard to develop a process that works best for them. I talk with clients all the time about how there’s never ONE right way, and I truly believe that.

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3. Be open to gaining new insights about coaching as well as the client experience.

While I try to act as a client while our sessions are in progress, I definitely absorb ideas for new coaching techniques along the way. Sometimes, I’ll be presented with an exercise or strategy that I immediately know I want to tweak and incorporate into my own coaching. Other times, though, I’ll realize after the fact--like when I’m reviewing notes from previous sessions--that something was really effective. For me, it’s a great bonus of working with other coaches.

In Hana’s experience, the same is true. “The exposure to different coaching styles has not only diversified my coaching toolbelt but also helped me find my own unique approach to my work,” she says.

Though I have lots of friends who are coaches, and we freely share ideas, strategies, and tips among us, there’s something different about being on the client end of the equation. If you’ve never worked with a coach, it’s hard to imagine the particulars of that dynamic and experience. And for that reason alone, I think every coach should work with another coach at least once.