Red Flags to Avoid When Selecting a Coach

Red Flags to Avoid When Selecting a Coach

Today’s episode is the third and final in a mini-series about coaching. If you missed the first two, catch up there first. The series was created after I walked into a local networking event and was reminded that the term “coach” can be a put-off for some people due to bad experiences. I wanted to help you answer some questions to determine if you’re in the right headspace for coaching and cover some of the basics of finding the right coach. In this episode, I also cover the red flags to avoid when selecting a coach. So, let’s dive in.

Too Many Coaches in the Field

I have been doing this work since 1999, and honestly, I don’t know what else I would call myself. In my recent networking and discussions, I’ve learned how many people are masquerading themselves as coaches because they think they can coach people. This has created a ton of confusion in the industry. Not only is this hard for people searching for coaching, but it’s also hard for people like me who have been practicing in this field for a long time. There are a few red flags to watch for in coaches that I’ve definitely seen in my experience. First, I want to explain a bit more about my process. 

My Coaching Philosophy

I’m tired of seeing the harm that has been done. Coaching isn’t right for everyone, and if it is the right move for you, it also needs to be the right person. Coaching alone is not going to get business owners results. Throughout my career, I’ve learned that a call and implement strategy is best. My philosophy is that I need to blend other mechanisms to get results. 


The first thing I focus on is coaching. It’s where I give clients the autonomy and agency to grow by asking questions, provoking insights, and holding people accountable. Clients are learning through self-discovery. Coaching is not an advice session where I tell people what to do. This is the time to definite their mission, vision, skills, and how that all transfers to small business ownership. 


In my blended model, I do some consulting work. That’s the time when I share standard operating procedures that I’ve put together and help them plug numbers into a template or calculator that is created. My clients will take these tools and use them inside of their business. Defining the business model for clients can fall into coaching and consulting because they likely won’t want to build that from the ground up completely. We might use a template that is already there and build from it. 


I have decades of experience working with corporations and small businesses. I use that experience and share learnings from my own journey with clients. This is like a mentorship. People are able to learn from my experiences and see what’s worked for me. 

Teaching and Training

This is all about skill development and skill transfers. When teaching and training, I am helping people build the skills required for small business ownership. Concepts are explained and practiced, and I hold people accountable for learning and developing their skills.

Blending Them Together

My blended model combines coaching, consulting, mentorship, teaching, and training. Some people get frustrated with coaches because they ask questions, but the client doesn’t know the answers and has some learning to do. That’s why this blended model works for me. I use many frameworks when working with clients, and they are a mechanism to teach and train from. 

As a coach, it’s important to me to practice non-attachment to my client’s outcomes. I need to be able to stay in a neutral observer place. When mentoring, I show up embodying the competence for successful ownership. When consulting, it’s important to me that I help clients navigate the learning curve and help do some of the workload along with them. If I’m operating within my coaching philosophy correctly, we will have the time to actually do the coaching. 

Red Flags to Watch For in Coaches

Coaches who are out there not doing any professional development make me angry. They ask people to invest in them for their development, but these coaches aren’t investing in themselves. I’m not covering the people who are out there coaching and trying to take advantage of people, I’m talking about the coaches who come from a place of good intentions but are incredibly naive about what it means to be a coach.

One example is coaches who believe that their lived experience is what qualifies them to be a coach. That’s a small part of coaching and fits more in the mentorship space. Many coaches repeat the jargon they’ve heard in self-help books and personal development, but coaches need to individualize the content for their clients. 

Coaches should always acknowledge intersections when it comes to race, class, neurodiversity, misogyny, and learning styles. As someone who is diagnosed with ADHD, I have experienced some coaches who have not been helpful because they didn’t understand or acknowledge how ADHD would show up in relation to goal-setting, mindset, business, etc. 

Poor communication is another big red flag. Coaches should be among the best communicators out there. If they aren’t constantly improving their communication skills, it’s an issue. Take a good look at their content, their tone, and their bias. It’s important that they acknowledge their bias and clearly communicate.

Another comment to be cautious of is, “Coaching is intuitive, and I just use my intuition.” Coaching is a process, and good coaches have one. Of course, it’s also intuitive, but the first thing you learn in coach training is the process. There needs to be some structure so you can set clear expectations. 

The final red flag is anyone who is extremely rigid with what they tell you. Coaching is an exercise that gets the client thinking. The client needs to have agency and autonomy, and the coach should ask questions to facilitate, not control. 

Final Thoughts

I hope you found the information about coaching beneficial. It’s good for me to revisit my training and experiences, and hopefully, it helps people determine if coaching is the right step. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any insight or anything to share with me. Please share this podcast episode with anyone you think it could be helpful for.

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