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Attributes For A Successful Life Coach

Whilst coaches may come from a range of backgrounds and there is no specific background required or previous employment area which sets some out as having an advantage, there are skills which can be learned or enhanced to improve effectiveness as a life coach.

Some life coaches may focus on specific areas, such as business coaching, weight loss, careers counselling, and so on.  Other coaches may prefer to work with a wide range of client concerns.  So the skills required by life coaches may vary considerably depending on their specialties.  However, there are some skills that most life coaches will require in order to work successfully with their clients and to run their own successful life coaching practice.

A coach needs to be able to focus on the client they are working with and the issue at hand.  This sounds obvious, but if they are not able to focus on what the client is saying and pay attention, then important issues can be missed.

A coach needs to be able to organise their time well.  They should be able to make appointments, allow sufficient time and be prepared.  How can a client be expected to trust them to help their time management if the coach themselves turns up late without the correct information they require?

Business skills are important.  A coach needs to be able to keep satisfactory accounts or books, plan their diary, keep up to date with their taxes, insurance and so on.  Anything that would be required from anyone running a business will be required by the self-employed life coach.

A coach may be the most brilliant coach on the planet, but if no-one knows about them and their services, they will not gain any clients and make any income, so marketing their services is very important.  A coach may use paid advertising, such as in newspapers, magazines, or website adverts, but there are also other forms of advertising that can be free, such as the use of social media such as twitter, facebook, blogging, forums, and so on.  The life coach may also choose to have their own website, perhaps with a contact enquiry form where a client can make a brief enquiry to see whether their goal(s) is something the coach is able to help them with.  They may also rely on word of mouth where satisfied past clients give them a positive appraisal to potential new clients (though this obviously takes a little time to establish).  Those with a website might include client testimonials to promote their services.  A coach may take many steps to ensure that clients in their area know where they are, and what they can help them with.

Linked to marketing skills is networking.  Life coaches need to be approachable, personable, friendly and helpful.  They should be enthusiastic, empathic and have a sense of humour and patience.  Possessing these qualities are important in helping coaches to gain new customers, but also new business contacts.  Networking amongst business associates is now a common approach.  This may be done in the virtual world via online social networking, forums, and so on, but it can also be done through 'traditional' face-to-face meetings.  Business people in a specific town may meet up at regular events, such as luncheons or breakfasts, social events and so on.   Professionals belonging to certain associations are also likely to attend regular meetings.   A life coach might attend seminars, workshops, or conferences held by related professions where they can make new acquaintances with other professionals who might refer clients unsuited to their line of work to the coach. There are many different ways that a life coach can make themselves known.

Imagine a life coach who works with people to help them change their careers and improve their businesses.  They may attend monthly business meetings with people in Town B.  By doing so, they start talking to potential clients, or people who may know potential clients – their name becomes known, they develop a reputation and can gain clients for their business now, as well as promote the likelihood of future business.

An important skill for any life coach is problem solving.  A client goes to see a life coach so that they can achieve their goals.  They may not see how to change their behaviour or resolve a problem, but a life coach needs to be able to listen to what they say and make suggestions on how they can change their life.  Without this ability, the life coach will not really go far.  As mentioned previously, to truly help a client, a coach has to ensure that they are really listening to what the client has to say.

So, a very important skill for any life coach is 'listening'.

A coach really does need to listen to a client to be able to accurately determine what that client needs.  Although many clients will share common problems and needs, it is a mistake to take a blanket approach to life coaching, or to assume that all clients need the same things.

A coach's first task is to determine exactly what each client needs.  This requires careful and active listening.

Language is used to convey and share information.  A client may meet with a life coach and tell the coach a great deal, but they might also be hiding information from the coach.  This could be due to embarrassment, fear of appearing silly or stupid in front of the life coach, feelings of shame or guilt, and so on.  This information may not be relevant to the coaching process, but sometimes it may be, and so the coach needs to be able to encourage a client to feel comfortable and secure with them in order that they will reveal pertinent information.

Imagine a young father goes to visit a life coach.  His wife is the main breadwinner and he has therefore decided to stay at home and care for the children.  The children are close to starting school and he has set up his own business working from home.  This has proved quite successful and is getting better and better.  He comes to you because he wants to find ways to improve his business, to look at networking possibilities, and so forth.

However, underneath all this, the main problem is not growing the business, but actually his own time management and guilt. He is finding it hard to fit the work in.  His wife is used to him doing the main caring for the children and is not very supportive or willing to change.  He does not know how to find the time to fit his business into his life.

Clearly, there are issues relating to his relationship with his wife and his time management.  Then there is the guilt.  He feels guilty answering work calls or emails, when he should be with his children.  He is ashamed to admit that he may need additional child care support when the children start school to grow this business.  All of these issues may be beneath the surface, but all of these issues may affect how his business grows.

He may not say any of this to the life coach, but his posture, non-verbal cues and some verbal cues may actually send a message to the coach that there are other issues involved.

Therefore, a coach must be prepared to 'actively' listen to each client in order to better understand what the client really thinks and feels.

Could you be a Life Coach? OR, are you a life coach looking to improve your knowledge and move your business forward?  ACS have a number of courses to suit different levels of learning, and increase your knowledge, inlcuding:
Life Coaching
Certificate In Business And Life Coaching

ACS also offer a great range of eBooks to read, including:
How To Be A Life Coach

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