THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Finding a coach

A number of friends who are members of GDP-UK have been sending me copies of a developing thread on the subject of how to hire a business coach and who to hire. The “who” conversation is none of my business – there are excellent coaches, consultants and trainers out there – Sheila Scott, Kevin Rose, Jane Lelean, Alun Rees, Tony Gedge, Mark Oborn, Ashley Latter, Arun Mehra, Laura Horton, Emma John, Sim Goldblum, Rita Zamora and more (apologies if I’ve omitted you – its early). The majority of “us coaches” live in abundance mentality and I have referred clients to the people on the above list and have received referrals from them – we do actually do that when time, geography, personality, core speciality or conflict of interest suggest. My only gripe is a few individuals who seem to have a penchant for “cut and pasting” material from others and representing it as their own (present company excepted) – but I’ve found that they eventually get found out – the clients aren’t stupid. There’s no harm in referencing the work of others with attribution – I’ve been rattling on about Stephen Covey, Dan Sullivan, Robert Kiyosaki, Dave Allen, Seth Godin et al for years – always with a web link or reference. To present their ideas (or the ideas of other coaches) as your own is, I believe a cardinal sin, as unhealthy as bad-mouthing fellow professionals, whether in public forums or private gossip. I’ve been around on this stage for over 15 years and have worked with about 1000 principals in some form or other – that’s a 10% market penetration – or perhaps to put it another way, 90% of dental principals in the UK either haven’t heard of me, don’t need a coach or don’t want me as their coach. Its OK. Starting to get into a debate about length of service, qualification and philosophy is a waste of time. The people who hired me had a need, felt that I could fulfil that need and, most importantly of all – liked my style. There’s the rub – its about style. All the experience, exams and great ideas in the world will not compensate if:

  1. the client doesn’t like you

  2. you don’t like the client

  3. the client’s team don’t like you

  4. you don’t like the client’s team

Game over. I thought that the post from my client and friend James Hamill was sheer poetry, told him so and requested his permission to reproduce here. Please – this isn’t about me – I’m flattered to have been his coach for some years now – but this “mantra” is about all coach/client relationships and, for me, says it all. I am sure that every coach on the above list has clients who would write the same: In 2011 the coaches I think will be busy people as more people see the need for their services. Who you choose will be a personal decision based on gut feelings, like anything its horses for courses, but like in life some are better that others and I wish anyone looking for a coach a fruitful journey as finding one is great and makes a huge difference not only professionally but personally to your life. I personally don’t believe that being a dentist in a former life is a prerequisite for being a suitable business, life, motivational or marketing coach. In fact I would see it as being a negative in many respects. Yes, if I was needing assistance in clinical dentistry it’s helpful but for me I see a clear benefit in having someone who stands clear of the direct profession. So here’s my perfect coach…. They obviously need to know the dental business inside out (and thats not about fillings and the services we provide), have a broad experience in dealing with all aspects of dentistry and dental ‘people’ and I want that experience to come from their own ability to ‘discover’, learn and adapt to a changing profession. I want someone who is at the forefront, who has the conviction to lead ideas, lead opinion and influence. I don’t care if they are not always right but I do care that they can admit that they are wrong. When I am doing spreadsheets for a business plan I want someone who is financially competent and who has seen a thousand dental business plans, both good and bad. In planning a marketing strategy I want someone who can spring ideas from their own head (not copy) and therefore assist in making my practice stand out from the crowd and keep ahead of the game, just not in it. I don’t want them to just tell me how to tell patients about what I do, I want them to show me how to tell people how it makes them feel. I want someone who has seen so many marketing ideas that they can help select what is appropriate or more importantly facilitate innovation. I want someone who makes a discernible difference to my life. I want someone who can admit they are wrong, take delight when we get it right, be authentic, be real, be honest, trustworthy and just be straight. I don’t want someone who just tells me what I want to hear. I want someone who stretches me both professionally and personally, who assists in my development, who inspires me, who I can trust with the most private details of my life. Someone who has a unique selling point, someone who has seen it, see’s it and can help me see it. Someone I can argue with, someone I can hug, someone I can cry in front of, someone I can get drunk with. Above all else someone I can respect, someone who shows respect in return and someone I can call a friend. And you know what I found that person……. Good luck in your journey, I hope you find your perfect coach. James

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