As a professional coach for the last 6 years, one of the most pervasive myths that I have heard about the coaching industry is that a coach should be an expert. People often believe that a coach should have expertise in the field that the client has challenges. This myth is widely believed on both the client side as well as the coach side. It is especially pervasive with newer coaches who are breaking into the industry.
In reality, strong and effective coaches don’t need to have any personal experience related to a client’s challenges. This is because the coach is skilled at coaching the client, not the problem.
MYTH: Clients NEED an Expert
On the client side, she may think she needs a coach who can give her advice about the current challenges that she is facing in a particular area of her life. She may be under the misconception that her coach needs to be an expert in her field, or the field that she wants to break into. However, what she may not know, is that coaching in its purest form is not about information. It is about transformation and exploration. A coach is not a subject matter expert. A coach is an expert on helping the client understand him or herself better. in order to use the inner resources that he or she already has inside in order to achieve what he wants.
MYTH: Coaches NEED to be an Expert
On the coach side, it can certainly be intimidating to coach a client who may want to dive into subject matter where the coach has little or no experience. For example, one of my first executive clients was 20 years my senior and needed some coaching about taking his financial advising business to the next level. My financial skills consisted of barely being able to balance a checkbook. However, I knew that I was not going to be giving him advice on finances. Instead, I was going to be coaching him on his being – who he needed to be in order to have the financial advising firm that he wanted. After our first session, he was thrilled that coaching gave him the opportunity to take the time to reflect on the kind of person he was being now and who he wanted to be. It was through this clarity that he was better able to make action steps to move his business forward.
REALITY: There is No Expertise Needed
Coaches, don’t let lack of experience in certain subjects discourage you from pursuing the different types of clients that you want. While it can be useful to have a niche, it is also useful to keep an open mind about coaching clients in demographics that you’ve never tried before. When you focus on asking powerful, curious questions about the person, you can effectively coach any client of any age in any industry. That is a beautiful thing.