Who is a business coach and how to choose one for your team


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The coaching market in Russia is young: this gives rise to hundreds of pseudo-experts and skepticism in society. However, many entrepreneurs plan to work with business coaches. Let’s figure out how to choose a corporate coach

About the expert: Alexey Baranov, certified coach in the Gallup StrengthsFinder methodology, executive coach, CEO of CrewMakers.


Who it
Why business
How to choose
How the work is structured

Who is a business coach

A business coach is a professional mentor who supports, educates and inspires business owners and teams. He makes recommendations regarding the company’s vision, growth and goals.

Effective business coaches not only provide motivation, but also implement strategies and set priorities that help the business grow.

A coach is an objective third party who offers an unbiased point of view and constructive criticism, removes limiting beliefs, and recommends new approaches to processes, and opportunities to expand your network.

According to the global coaching institute IPEC, 99% of those who have undergone business coaching were “satisfied or very satisfied” and 96% said they would “do the process again.”

Why does business need coaching?

40% of all Fortune 500 companies invest in business coaching. Demand was forecast to reach $11.2 billion in 2023.

According to Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Google and former member of the board of directors of Apple, both companies owe much of their trillion-dollar valuations to their business coach Bill Campbell.

Today there are 93 thousand certified coaching practitioners in the world. The global coaching industry is a billion-dollar market ( approaching $20 billion), covering a wide range of areas.

To summarize, coaching is helping another person achieve their personal and/or professional goals.

At some point, almost all business owners discover that without additional support they will not be able to take their brainchild to the next level.

A business coach becomes this support and guide to the desired goal.

How to choose the ideal coach: criteria

  1. The most important thing is education. The minimum training period to obtain a professional coaching certificate from the ICF (International Coaching Federation) is 128 hours. To obtain other levels of certification, you need to accumulate 100, 500 or 2500 hours of practice (ACC, PCC, MCC levels).Every year, the coach must confirm his qualifications: at least 40 hours of training. Moreover, the story with education is not only about the “crust”, but also about mastery of several approaches and the ability to mix them during the session, understanding what a particular client needs.
  2. The coach must understand what he is talking about and be congruent. As a rule, a business coach is an experienced entrepreneur himself, who has achieved more than one success and decided to use his talents in the field of mentoring. That is, if a specialist offers business coaching services, he must be in context to help achieve some entrepreneurial results. If we talk about the position of an executive coach, this is a person who combines more than one role and can often go beyond one specific tool to achieve results for the client. This includes coaching itself as an essence, and mentoring, and even psychological work.
  3. The focus should be on the result, not the process. Competent formulation of the question and constant return to the goal as the main guideline is a key skill of a business coach, which is taught in all international coaching schools. Our thoughts often become intertwined and take our attention away from the original goal. Emotions, limiting attitudes, fears and beliefs come into play. The coach must return the focus to the goal.
  4. It is important that a specialist is visible in social networks and the media space. After reading what a person shares (expertise, cases, position, values), listening to podcasts, looking at his communication style as part of an interview on YouTube, you can already determine whether you want to work with this person or not. Pay attention to how the coach corresponds to what he is talking about. Sometimes a profile may convey one thing, but a blog post may convey something completely different.
  5. Pay attention to the number of hours of practice, as well as reviews from corporate and private clients, including negative ones. Everyone’s needs are different. It may turn out that the coach’s approach did not suit a particular person and the experience turned out to be negative, but for someone who comes with a different request, this approach is exactly what is needed.
  6. Undoubtedly, the partner position is important. It is not the coach who needs to work with the person, but the person with the coach. Therefore, the coach never imposes his services. He has the expertise to help the client achieve his goal. This applies to both corporate and private practice.
  7. It’s good when a coach is not afraid to demonstrate ignorance. If, for example, in some corporate or private practice there are highly specialized terms or details that are incomprehensible to a person due to their specificity, the coach does not nod and say: “Yes, this is all clear to me.” He asks additional questions, dives in, and is not afraid to appear incompetent in this narrow specialization.
  8. Confidentiality is important. Typically, a corporate coach works either with the top person of the company or with those who work directly under the leadership of the CEO. After sessions with employees, the coach does not have the right to tell the director what the session was about and what this employee generally told him. In my practice, for example, before a meeting with a C-level employee, I conduct a short briefing with the CEO to understand what specific issues are important to him. It happens that they see potential in a person, but he does not show results. The General asks for clarification as to why this is happening. During a session with an employee, I directly or indirectly try to find answers. When the session ends, I do not give the general information in the format: this is happening for this reason and for this reason. And I present the result in the format of recommendations: for a person to show results, do this and that.
  9. A professional coach values ​​his time and even conducts orientation sessions with the CEO for money. Many coaches love the story of free sessions, discovery sessions, etc. I think this is not the most correct story. If there is a request from the company, it is better to conduct an orientation session with the first person for money than to meet for a pointless free coaching session. And if he likes it, then roll out the training to the team; if not, the company will continue to look for a suitable coach. Of course, talking to HR, talking about the approach, finding out the request is free. But coaching work is not done without payment.
  10. A good business coach must have a genuine interest in people, a desire to invest in their development and be interested in their growth. A coach always works with a person from an adult position. Doesn’t give advice. The coach sincerely believes that everyone is absolutely fine. It can be described as a kind of mirror for a person. Thanks to the right questions, a business coach helps the client see intangible, unobvious things. To highlight inefficiency, some of its shadow sides – something that a person himself does not want to look at, but understands that this prevents him from moving forward professionally and personally. For a coach, the client’s result is primarily the result of his own work.

How to work with a business coach in a company

Interaction with a coach in large companies is supervised either by the T&D department (training and development) or by the HR department. At the same time, coaches work both in individual and team formats.

As a rule, an HR manager supervising a particular business area knows about employees who have requests for personal development. HR helps them build the trajectory of this development.

One of the points is working with a coach. As a rule, this is systematic work with a one and a half or two week break between sessions.

A contract is concluded, a goal for coaching work is set, and the situation the employee is in at the very beginning of work is recorded.

For example, a person does not delegate tasks due to lack of trust, tries to do everything himself, or cannot ask for help from colleagues – there is a request to get rid of these restrictions.

The employee says: I want to achieve this behavior, I want to change these metrics, I want to increase such and such a skill, I want to rebuild these patterns and become more effective.

Regular work with a coach gives a person the opportunity to reflect, return with feedback, and do homework.

Integrate what is worked out in sessions into your regular processes. At the end of the coaching contract, the results are accepted, the desired behavior is reinforced and the following goals are set.

As a rule, if a person embarks on the path of development while working with a coach, he discovers more potential in himself that he is interested in developing.

Business coaches also lead team sessions: help the team create a strategy, work with resistance, and internal system limitations, and overcome conflicts; align people within the team, help to understand why this or that colleague makes decisions based on strange logic, etc.

As in individual coaching, there is also a preliminary history here: briefings, immersion in context, diagnostics, interviewing leaders and all participants in the coaching process. At the strategic sessions themselves, as a rule, several coach-facilitators work at once, who, in group coaching, help teams set up internal dialogue.

The work of a coach with a team is also a long process. First there is a goal setting session. Then, at each stage, the coach, together with the team, records what goals have been achieved and what processes are still stalled, what is the attitude towards obligations and mutual demands on each other, and to what extent team members generally know how to work with resistance.

The coach carries out supporting activities so that the result only progresses with each session.


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