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The International Coaching Federation (ICF) recognizes more than 50 000 professional accredited coaches worldwide. This represents tremendous growth for an industry that didn’t exist in the mainstream until the 1980’s, especially as these numbers do not include non-accredited individuals providing coaching services, or managers using coaching skills as part of their work. With so much choice and so many different types of coaches out there, it can be difficult to know where to start in choosing a coach.

Lets’ start with why you might need a coach. Quite simply, we all have problems that are struggling to overcome, goals we are trying to achieve, slumps we are trying to get through, ruts we are trying to escape, or choices we need to make. A coach is an individual trained (for the purposes of this article we will be focusing on accredited coaches) to help you with these challenges. According to the ICF’s 2017 Global Consumer Awareness Study, people who have partnered with a coach report a range of positive impacts, including:

  • Improved communication
  • Increased self-esteem/self-confidence
  • Increased productivity
  • Optimized performance
  • Improved work/life balance

In the words of Robert Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot and Chrysler, ‘I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.’ Perhaps you agree and decide that a hiring a coach will be helpful in reaching your aims. Where do you begin? The most common way to find a coach is via recommendation, but even then, success is not guaranteed. To give yourself the best shot, ask these 5 questions when choosing a coach, but only after some self-reflection. Why do you need a coach? What is the issue you need help with? What type of coach is likely to have the skills and focus you need? Here are some ideas.


9 types of coaches

One of the most widespread forms of coaching, life coaching assists individuals in identifying, structuring and achieving life goals, and working in alignment with one’s life purpose. This often involves new insights, motivation, and behavioral change. Feeling lost and uninspired, or looking to rediscover meaning in your life? A life coach is for you.

Leaders face a unique set of challenges not experienced by other members of organizations. A Leadership Coach has the experience or unique insight needed to see his/her client’s needs in the broader context of successful leadership. From there spring the techniques, tools or developmental processes that assist leaders in performing better as individuals, and achieving more as leaders.

The world of work is changing rapidly, with the average Millennial expected to change jobs four times before the age of 32, often changing entire industries. Regardless, choosing a career remains daunting, and requires more from you than simply filling out an aptitude test. A good Career Coach will guide you in choosing work that is aligned with your needs, your goals, and your personal capacities.

To varying degrees, health plays a role in all coaching topics, but if you have a specific health issue, or are focused on building your mental and physical wellbeing, a Health Coach can offer tremendous benefits. With so much competing and conflicting health advice in the public domain, expert guidance and coaching are imperative in optimizing your health and building vitality and resilience.

Competitive or serious sport puts a unique strain on the body and mind. Challenges faced by athletes can only be understood by someone who has experience and training in this difficult terrain, which is why a Sports Coach is critical if you want to prepare for a major event, or shift your performance to the next level.

As the name implies, a Relationship Coach helps two or more people change or improve their engagement in a healthy way. This is nuanced and tricky work, and requires expert skills. Coaching, however, is not the same as counselling. Many Relationship Coaches are trained in both fields, but counsellors are usually rooted in therapy of some kind. A coach is not a therapist, and a Relationship Coach is most effective in situations where people are seeking a specific outcome in their relationship dynamic.

Expanding the impact of 1-on-1 coaching, a Team Coach works with the leader(s) and members of a team to achieve team alignment around vision, goals, strategy and culture. This can involve individual coaching, but always within the context of the desired outcomes for the group.

A specialist, usually with significant business experience, that coaches an individual in optimizing her/his workplace performance, as it relates to the success of the business as a whole. This can include the development of new personal business skills, modification of behavior, or implementation of new business systems. Business Coaches often work with entrepreneurs in making their businesses more successful.

Though it relies on many of the same interventions as coaching, mentoring is slightly different in its application. If you would like to emulate someone, or follow the same path that he/she (the mentor) followed, or reach the same skill/competency he/she has, then mentorship is for you. A Mentor is a guide who has successfully walked the path that you wish to travel, and is able to help show you the way.

Looking for a coach? offers a rich library of professional and accredited coaches in almost every field.


Photo by Heidi Sandstrom. on Unsplash