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Who Is A Coach & How Do I Find The Best One?

How to chose a coach

Rabbi Zidnee Ilman
“My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”

The coaching market is becoming more and more complicated with increasing numbers and types of coaches. The offer, skills and experience varies incredibly and can be very disorientating for someone new to the world of coaching. The key question here is how do you increase your chances of hiring the right coach to meet your needs. As someone who has extensive coaching experience and training I believe that coaching can have a significant impact in the life of an individual in the area of professional and personal goals.

In this article Saiyyidah Zaidi, Expert Growth Coach and Positive Psychologist and Founding Member of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital (a Harvard Medical School Affiliate) will take you through the key things to consider when looking for a coach.

There are many reasons why someone hires a coach and many reasons why we do not. A coach is not for everyone. But, if you are ready for it, a good coach can really help you by assessing your abilities and limiters from the outside and make suggestions on how you can improve. It takes time to find the right coach – someone you respect and someone who has the knowledge necessary to assist you. A coach that works for your best friend might not be right for you.

Who is a Coach?
Essentially a coach helps people live out their potential. For me the power of coaching is in the ability to accelerate positive change. To provide the environment and process to enable a client to think about their thoughts and emotions, to reflect, learn and take forward what they experience and the actions they undertake and the feedback. The change occurs between sessions and that is the invisible power of change.

In life many of us are playing the ‘inner game’ and we don’t even know it. The relationship between self 1 (the conscious telling self) and self 2 (the unconscious automatic doer) can be profound. Knowing how to play the inner game is about finding yourself and being yourself and the coach supporting you to do that- being aware of negative self talk and embracing it to pull out reflection and learning; and thriving on positive self talk whilst also reflecting and learning.  A good coach will always find the elephant in the room.

So how do you select a good coach?
Here are some tips to help everyone looking to hire their first coach.  As an experienced coach I love working with ‘educated clients’ and the contents of this article will help you to become just that! A client that is able to stretch a coach is worth their weight in gold.


Coaching experience: Many coaches will answer this either in their introduction to you but if they don’t do ask them:

  • Why did you become a coach?
  • What is the nature of your experience?
  • What did you do before you became a coach?

Training: I always recommend potential clients do a Google search for their coach to find out a bit more about them.  There you will find some of the answers to these questions and if not, do ask.

  • Where were you trained? Are you accredited?
  • What other relevant qualifications/experience do you have?
  • What do you think are the key skills for a good coach?
  • What professional memberships do you have?

References: Always obtain a reference or get information on case studies. You want to work with a coach that you have complete confidence and trust in. After all, this is your personal and professional life we are talking about.


Trust and Chemistry: Without the appropriate chemistry I do not believe a coach can serve a client. Rapport and chemistry go both ways and when it exists coaching can be magical.

Style: Ask the coach to explain what kind of coaching they use and why. Also ask them if they distinguish between life coaching, business coaching, counselling and mentoring. (Coaching is not counselling, therapy or mentoring and if the coach is not able to distinguish this then I would recommend you find someone else).

Before and after the session: The difference between a good and excellent coach is what takes place before and after the session. I believe both coach and client should centre themselves and make sure that they are present and ready for the session. A few minutes either side of a coaching session can really help to make the session more productive and embed the new realisations from the coaching session.


Location: Regardless of where the location is it is important for there to be no physical and metaphorical distractions- the coach should be 100% focused on the needs of the client, if you hear a kettle boiling in the background or some notification noises going off on the other side- challenge your coach.

Method: There are various methods and technologies for coaching (Skype, phone, face to face) and we should consider the impact of these technologies in coaching and how a coach can serve a client. Using technology for coaching sessions has no impact when the client (and coach) are familiar with using it.

Length of time for sessions: Recently I experienced a coaching session 6 minutes in length where my client said ‘That was a life changing experience!’ Now this is probably unusual, but the point is that coaching sessions can vary from 6 minutes to 120 minutes. What I have found in my experience is that the level of focus and openness are the things that create the real value in coaching for the client and this can happen in either 6 or 120 minutes. More often than not the client requires time to get deeper into the subject matter. Now when we look at focus – if you are really in the zone, results are no longer related to time but the ability for your sub-conscious to communicate with the conscious.

Pricing & Programme: What is the typical coaching programme and fee structure? Make sure that you are clear on what you are signing up for.  In my experience as both coach and client the fee for an excellent coach will stretch you a little but it’s worth every penny/cent because the breakthroughs that you make in your life/business are priceless.


Coaching is a profession that is rapidly evolving and it is essential for any coach to have on going professional development to continuously refresh, update and expand knowledge and coaching capability.  Ask your potential coach:

  • What professional development do you undertake?
  • What support and monitoring systems do you have?
  • Who coaches you?
  • Who supervises you?

I believe that all coaches need to have a coach and if you have the right accreditation and continuous development you will also have a supervisor who is supporting your coach to be the best coach that they can be so that they can serve you in the best way possible.

An average coach enables the client to improve on the situation now, an excellent business coach will also deal with the future – Brian Tracy said ‘Life is like a combination lock – your job is to find the right numbers, in the right order, so you can have anything you want.’

If you are looking for a coach and would like to work with Saiyyidah please email her at sz@saiyyidahzaidi.com for information on how you can get a complimentary coaching session inshaAllah.

Authored by Saiyyidah Zaidi
Saiyyidah Zaidi is the Positive Psychologist and Expert Growth Coach at Millionaire Muslimah and the founder of Working Muslim. She is an international speaker and is known for her training and seminars on entrepreneurship, work faith balance, positive psychology, high performance and abundance. You can find out more about her work at www.MillionaireMuslimah.com and www.facebook.com/workingmuslim.
Edited by Shamsiya Noorul Quloob

Prophet Muhammad - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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