It’s a commonly asked question, ‘What makes a great business coach? How do I know if I’ve got a great business coach, or if I’m going to make a great business coach?’ And once again I’m very mindful that you may be coming from one angle or the other, that is either you’re thinking about becoming a coach and embarking on that journey or you’re thinking about engaging a business coach to help you grow your business. And you’re wondering, ‘What is it that actually makes a good business coach?’
I’ve really got six key things that I’m going to run through with you today to help you understand from my experience what makes a great business coach. Now I’ve been in the business coaching industry for 12 years, and I’ve worked with hundreds and hundreds of business coaches across the globe. I was a global trainer, so I’ve trained many, many coaches, and I’ve watched many coaches come and go. And it’s quite interesting. We wrongly or rightly do the training, and a few of us that did the training on a regular basis would guess as to who would work out as a great coach and who wouldn’t make it. Quite often we were very wrong.
So it was interesting to look at how we had stereotyped what we thought would make a great coach, and who ended up being a great coach was two very different people. Now what I’m going to do in this video is give you my six key things that I’ve learnt when I look at all the great coaches that I currently have in my team, but also the great coaches I’ve worked with over the years. And what were some of their key attributes, and what it was that made them a great coach.
Point #1, A Business Coach needs to have a positive attitude!
The first thing I think that’s paramount, the very first attribute is that they have a positive attitude. You know you’re going to fail if you don’t try. We have a saying, ‘The only failure is the failure to participate.’ What that means is is that if you don’t give it a go, if you do nothing at all, well that’s the true failure. If your attitude is one of a defeatist, somebody who gives up easily, then you’re not going to make a great business coach. So if you’re talking to somebody and thinking about brining them on as a coach, if they have a negative attitude or an attitude of giving up, and it would be unlikely as these types of people wouldn’t be attracted to this industry, because coaching is about having a positive attitude and a ‘can-do’ attitude.
I listen to a lot of different podcasts, and I was listening to an interview just this morning in fact, funnily enough, and there was this woman being interviewed. There was one key thing that she learned from her upbringing, her growth and that was a saying, ‘If you can’t find a way, make a way.’ And I guess that’s what I’m talking about… If you know that you want a certain thing, if you want something badly enough, it’s not to be beaten down by someone saying, ‘You can’t do this.’ Some of life’s greatest successes, some of the most successful people were failures, and they were dubbed as failures. And then they went on to do great things. And I’m sure they wouldn’t have done that if they hadn’t had a positive attitude. So a great business coach has a positive attitude.
Point #2, A Business Coach needs to be empathetic
The second thing is that they are empathetic and I think that is a key attribute. A very big part of being a successful business coach is that you can show empathy and have empathy for your clients, which is about understanding where they are. I’ve got a saying I love that I use a lot, and that’s ‘walk a mile in their shoes.’ So as a coach works with somebody, they should walk a mile in their shoes. It’s easy for a coach to say, ‘Hey what are you doing? You should be doing x, y and z,’ but if they haven’t walked a mile in their shoes, they can’t honestly say they know what that person is going through or feeling, what emotions, what their roller coaster for them is looking like. So you’ve got to have empathy. Not sympathy, you’ve got to have empathy because empathy is about understanding. Empathy is about saying, ‘You know what? I understand what you’re going through, I understand how you feel, I understand where you’re at, however if you want to get to the results you want to get to, the successful spot you want to get to, then we’re going to have to change some things about what you’re doing.’
Point #3, A Business Coach needs to know about business
Now I’ve spoken a bit about their personal being, so positive attitude and empathy. Attribute number three is more about a skill set, and that’s about having a sound business knowledge or business acumen. And it’s very important if you’re going to engage a business coach that they actually know a little bit about business, at least the basic fundamentals.
Now the good news is they don’t have to have business degrees. Some people would argue this fact with me, but I’ve been in the industry long enough to prove to you that we do not need to have any business degrees or any kind of accounting degrees to teach you how to run your business better. In fact, your coach just needs to be a step ahead of you. Remember, coaches are probably doing the best business degree they could, and that is that they’re working with dozens of businesses at any one time, and they’re seeing what works and what’s holding people back versus what’s helping people be successful. So they’re getting the best training they can once they’re on the job. If you’ve got a coach that doesn’t have a sound business knowledge, then the likelihood is they haven’t been coaching very long or they haven’t had any previous business experience. So sound business knowledge is very, very important, but once again, they don’t need to have a degree. I just don’t want you to get that confused with where their skill level needs to be at.
Point #4, A Business Coach needs to be honest
Attribute number four, the fourth thing that I think they need is they need to be open and honest with you. This is about them being your unreasonable friend. They’re not going to be unfriendly, but they don’t have to be your buddy. They don’t have to be the best mate, they don’t have to be the person you’re going to hang out with everyday of the week, because when they get too close to you, they’ll let you get away with not doing what needs to be done. So it’s more about having an unreasonable friend.
They need to be open and honest with you. As much as it may hurt for you to hear the truth, that’s what they’ve got to do. Your business coach needs to be a person that can tell you the truth no matter what. And it’s not for the sake of being facetious or antagonizing, it’s about helping you. So if a coach understands that by telling you the truth it will help you understand what it is that you’re doing wrong or what you could change to get a better result, well that makes a good business coach. You want someone who’s open and honest who’s not going to be your friend. I always say to people if you just want a friend, go down to the pub. A friend will cost you a schooner. There you go, that’s my tip on getting friends. Not that they’re going to be long-term friends. Once you run out of money to buy schooners, they’ll run along to somebody else. Anyway, that’s getting off topic.
Point #5, A Business Coach needs to be a good listener
The fifth attribute that I think is vitally important for a business coach is they have to be a good listener and be great at asking questions. There’s a very good saying in sales that applies to just about everything in life, and that is, ‘You’ve got two ears and one mouth. You should use them proportionately.’
I believe that coaching it’s very much the same thing. A coach is different than a consultant. A consultant does telling and training and doing. A coach does asking, helping you do the discovery for yourself and the learning. Now by asking great questions… Now education came from the Latin word ‘?d?c?’ which means to draw out. So asking questions is the best way to teach somebody something.You have to be great at asking questions, and of course it’s no good asking great questions if you’re not a great listener. They sort of go hand in hand.
Point #6, A Business Coach needs to commit ego-cide
And my final key attribute, attribute number six… and this is not an exhaustive list by any means. This is just my top six that I thought of when I got asked this question. But I think this one is vitally important. To be a great coach to have to commit ego-cide. What that means is it’s not about you as the coach… The coach is there to do a job, and sometimes it can be a thankless job. It’s a bit like being a parent, I think, or being a Mum. My wife works hard at home to make sure that everyone’s got clean clothes and that the groceries are done and the pantry is full, and doesn’t ever really get thanked for it, which is a shame. But it’s not about that, it’s about providing.
It’s the same in business coaching, making sure that you’re providing for your clients. A great coach will provide for their clients without expecting recognition or reward in return. That can be difficult for some coaches because the very nature of the industry attracts outgoing people that require that external recognition and reward. I think it’s vitally important if you’re going to be a successful business coach that you commit ego-cide, you make it about your client and not about yourself.
There you go.
Hopefully those key six attributes help you answer the question ‘what makes a good business coach?’ Of course I always welcome your feedback, so below the video you can leave comments, questions, suggestions, anything you like really, I don’t mind. If you go to maxmyprofit.com.au you can check out the website.
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About the Author
Ben Fewtrell is a sought-after Business Coach, Keynote Speaker and trainer who has featured in Virgin’s Inflight Magazine and Entertainment Portal, SKY Business and “Secrets of Top Business Builders Exposed”. He is also the host of the popular Business Brain Food Podcast where he interviews leading experts on anything and everything business.