Professional coaching is a blessing; It shows that the organization believes in its employees and is willing to invest in their abilities and help them become a better version of themselves. Twenty years ago, a coachee would have said, “If I were to be trained by a coach, there was something wrong with me that needed to be fixed”.

Now, the same person is likely to think: “I'm doing really well, doing a good job, and getting on with my career, and coaching is a great tool that I can use to improve myself”. That “best character” is not limited to one's professional life, as coaching can be a huge blessing for personal development as well.

As a certified professional coach who specializes in emotional intelligence (EI), I think the value of coaching is hard to overstate. A good coach enables clients to set achievable goals while addressing their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, EI Coach helps clients change their current way of thinking in order to improve their status for career and personal advancement.

Each person who has thought about hiring a professional coach undoubtedly has many questions, and in this article we will address these concerns and provide tips for finding the right coach. I emphasize the importance of emotional intelligence and coaching in a world of  major changes. With the rising levels of stress at work as well as depression and anxiety among employees, how will leaders respond to these challenges, especially as younger generations enter the workforce?

Before we talk about the importance of professional coaching, it may be useful to understand what it is. Professional coaching is defined as a guiding process in which a client engages with their coach to become very effective in one or more areas of life, whether professional or personal.

The coach provides support during the transition process. The client moves from their current location to their desired position. At their best, professional coaching can be a transformative process at any stage of their career. It can address a gap in skills or a failure in progress, but it is also useful when the client is already a high performer and is ready to take their performance to the next level.

Professional coaching or cognitive behavioral therapy?

Although some forms of professional coaching are similar to cognitive behavioral therapy, the method of implementation is different:

Therapy looks deep into the past, examining the events in the client's life that have shaped their current behavior. Coaching may touch on past experiences as well, but it focuses a lot on forward thinking, change, momentum, and movement. It is geared towards goal setting and action planning for the purpose of obtaining the desired change.

I've had clients come to me for professional coaching, and after going through the process of figuring out exactly what they want to achieve, they decided that clinical therapy would help. In those scenarios, my role was very limited and specific; I helped them gain confidence, clarity, and focus so that they could make decisions about personal aspects of their lives. 

Why should you deal with a professional coach?

Research shows that professionals who receive coaching succeed and advance in their careers more than those who do not. This is not limited to individuals. Coaching is also very popular among teams because institutions have become fixed and project-based.

Teams that receive coaching are very productive and have good communication skills, and high performance. Performance is highly dependent on focus. When I work with leaders and teams, they are often well aware that they have, for example, poor communication skills, but they just weren't able to change that behavior.

Coaching helps the client to focus and understand not only why they are ineffective, but also the underlying factors, such as perceptions, values, and beliefs that prevent them from making lasting change.

How to deal with a Coach?

For those wishing to engage with a coach, the first step is to identify areas that could benefit from new strategies and approaches.

An individual may, for example, need to work on self-confidence, while team members should learn to trust others. Professional coaches are trained to listen and ask the necessary questions that help guide clients to their own conclusions.

For some, this may seem like something people can do on their own when sitting back and thinking. However, it is very hard to look at oneself from an objective and external perspective in order to think deeply.

Many coaches use journaling to encourage self-examination, but getting to the core issues usually requires a trained coach who can ask the right questions. Coaches help clients explore their innate talents and deep desires, change their perspective, and promote new mental habits. For most people, this is a life-changing experience.

Acquiring new mental habits can be difficult in itself:

After all, we are only human, and it is human nature to revert to old habits. However, it's time to engage with a coach when those old habits don't work, or when the client has high expectations that haven't yet been met.

The problem is not necessarily the client's ability to perform their role, as they may know how to do their job. Instead , the questions may include how well they work with others? How is the team led? Where  does the team get its leadership, guidance, and vision? These  are all "personal" issues that professional coaches are specifically trained to address. 

When does one seek a coach?

An individual may consider professional coaching if they wish to explore their own potential or become more resilient:

Maybe they want to be more mindful or reflective, looking for answers to deep questions like, "Who am I? Or  who I am at work? As  a leader, who do I want to be?" Coaching can help with all of these scenarios.

What do you expect when hiring a coach?

A coach's first priority is to identify exactly what the client hopes to achieve at the end of the process. These goals should be clearly defined before the actual coaching process begins. Then the coach and the client together develop a "roadmap" that sets expectations and lays out specific steps to achieve the goals.

After developing this roadmap, the strategies of coaching may vary from session to session. Some will include feedback and assessment, while others will focus on the client's personal goals or those of their team. The roadmap should also address details and logistics, including the frequency and duration of meetings, as well as whether the client has “homework” between sessions.

In general, the roadmap outlines a direction for the coaching process with clear metrics to define success. Ultimately, both the coach and the client should be able to accurately measure progress. 

Searching for a professional coach:

The most important thing is that a professional coach must be accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Anyone interested in searching for a coach can consult a local ICF branch to find qualified individuals in their area.

The accreditation of a coach through this leading international organization means that coaches adhere to ethical behaviors and follow professional standards, such as the roadmap discussed above.

ICF-Certified coach also demonstrates some core competencies, including the ability to build trust and confidentiality, use effective listening and necessary questions, help the client step from awareness to insight, define action steps and strategies, plan goals, and manage accountability with the client. 

Coach-client compatibility is another important factor:

Sometimes, spending time reviewing the coach's website and their CV helps potential clients gain a good understanding of how successful they are in working with this coach. The client should feel completely comfortable with the coach and trust them.

Before making any commitments, the coach and the client can also engage in an "exploratory conversation" to decide whether they are compatible and can build a strong relationship. Feeling a personal affinity for the coach is certainly very helpful. 

The role of the professional experiences of the coach:

Aside from a personal level, some coaches may be more compatible with a client due to their previous professional experience:

A trained and certified coach should be able to work with anyone, as they may have more experience in certain areas. This is often the case with executive coaches, business coaches, or entrepreneurship coaches. The process places greater emphasis on professional insight and practices than on the person. 

Why to choose an emotional intelligence coach?

Just as coaches have different experiences, they can also have different styles or disciplines that affect the way they work with clients. In my case, I'm certified in emotional intelligence assessments and intrigued by the neuroscience behind emotional and social intelligence and how it affects our leadership.

This is reflected in my coaching practices, as emotions affect every aspect of life. All behaviors, ideas, perceptions, and models stem from emotions. I use emotional energy in my coaching process by helping clients understand neuroscience, such as how their minds guide their emotions, choices, compositions, and responses.

This enables them to see how these responses affect their perceptions, ideas, actions, behaviors, and biases. Using an emotional intelligence assessment to create a baseline allows the client to identify areas where they are more or less effective.

I request that my clients ask guided questions such as: “What does this mean in terms of self-awareness and how do I interact with others? How do I make decisions? How do I drive change? And how does all of this affect my work? ”.

Emotional intelligence is not about personality or whether the client is introverted or a socialite:

It is about the way a person thinks and responds based on their mindset. My approach may differ from an executive coach approach that looks at things through the lens of strategic thinking, communication skills, and hiring and delegation practices. Emotional intelligence goes very deep, examining a client's basic thinking, which is driven by their neurochemical responses.

The way we interact with people at work is changing:

In the near future, as the next generation enters the workforce, leaders will have to adopt an entirely different style of leadership. This will require a completely different skill set and a great deal of emotional resilience. Coaching will become very important.

Research shows that rates of depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD at work are the highest ever. Specifically, according to Global EAP Network analyses, depression increased by 58%, anxiety by 74%, and stress by 28%.

Depression and anxiety are the main reasons for absence from work, they represent 82.6% of all health cases of employees. The generation that is now graduating and entering the labor market is the most depressed, anxious, and suicidal in history. One out of every five university students suffers from depression.

Keep in mind that in the annual World Happiness Report rankings, the United States has actually dropped from 18th to 19th place. This means that as a country we are becoming less and less happy. Leaders and employees alike must gain emotional strength and resilience if they are to get through these tough times.