48 | Red Flags to Look Out For If You’re Thinking of Working With a Coach

The Gentle Rebel Podcast

Jan 5 2024 • 39 mins

We're at the start of a new year. A time when many are thinking about projects, habits, and changes they want to focus on next. Whenever we seek advice on making a change, we're never far from a coach willing to help. But coaching has become a confusing and mysterious mixed bag. So I thought it might help to share some potential red flags to look out for if you're considering it this year. Growing Awareness of Bad Coaching Practices Have you noticed that everyone seems to be a "life coach" these days? Investigative documentaries, articles, and podcasts have started highlighting certain bad practices to look out for in the industry. Conspirituality released an episode examining emotional exploitation and parallels with multilevel marketing schemes of certain programs that train coaches to become coaches who coach coaches to be coaches. Season 3 of The Dream dives into similar topics in more depth. Online streaming platforms have an ever-growing library of shows exposing abuses in the name of coaching, such as "Escaping Twin Flames". The Closest Thing To Regulation in The Coaching Industry While still not perfect, reputable coaching bodies take great care to develop standards and core competencies that keep coaches and coachees as safe as possible amid the lack of official regulation. For coaches and coach training programs that are accountable to and assessed by associations like the International Coaching Federation (ICF), there is a level of professionalism and knowledge demanded of those who pursue accredited certifications. There are well-defined, concrete explanations about what you can expect from working with a coach. While every coach has a different personal and professional approach, and will develop the most effective ways of working with particular people, the basic scaffold of coaching is necessarily solid. But loose definitions and ambiguous understandings of coaching can confuse those exploring the field as a means of support. This can lead to misconceptions and a lack of awareness about what to look for and avoid when searching for a coach. What IS Coaching? Building on the ICF's definition, coaching is a thoughtful and creative partnership between coach and coachee that inspires them to explore the possibilities. It helps unlock sources of imagination and resourcefulness to overcome external challenges and inner obstacles to desired outcomes. It is focused on creating a practical pathway for a future-oriented objective. Coaching is not about fixing, advising, or training. Coaching is a specialist skill in and of itself. It's not about telling someone what to do or imparting knowledge. It's built on structured conversations that require trust and collaboration to serve an intentionally articulated purpose. The documentaries and exposés often highlight practices that insidiously and explicitly contradict these core coaching principles. Red Flags to Look Out For When Choosing a Coach If you're looking to make a change in your life and could use professional support to help you find focus, motivation, and the right path forward, working with a trained coach is a great option. However, not all coaches are equal, and I've compiled a list of red flags based on my observations and conversations with others who have horror stories from the so-called coaches they've encountered. Funnels, Systems, and Promises Be suspicious of any coach guaranteeing a specific result. "Get Rich Quick" is always tempting, especially when delivered in an attractive location with charisma and confidence. If it sounds too easy to be true, it almost certainly is. If their bio says "I'll Help You Grow a 7-figure Business", proceed with caution. The question to ask ourselves is, who wants me to believe this is easy? And what's in it for them if I buy the belief? Selling You a New Problem If you woke up today without the problem you are suddenly considering hiring a coach for or...