Q: How do you become an influential business coach?

Question:  What should be the prerequisites to become a business coach and influencer?

Answer: BEING A GOOD COACH: Being a Coach formally requires you undertake a training program, get enough contact hours working with clients, and passing an exam (both practical/oral and written). To get ICF certified, you’ll probably get an annual membership and start with your Associate Certified Coach (ACC) designation and eventually move up to PCC and MCC as you accumulate experience other time. The specific Coach Training you take shows you know a set view/approach, a toolbag of techniques, and enough awareness of the broad competencies (Coaches need 11 competencies) needed that you know where to grow other time. For example, after my 2.5 years of training, clients, and mentor feedback, I know I’m a great strategist, can quickly analyze and spot issues, and always want to push things towards action progress- but I can be maybe too twitchy/reactive in my speech (trading off slow depth and succinct brevity for superficial speed), could stand to better use emotion to build rapport and get the client experience themselves in a new way, and need to be able to take fewer notes and “dance in the moment” to be more experientially client-centered.

BEING GOOD AT BUSINESS: Being good at Business means having a history of success. Maybe a successful exit/acquisition, maybe growing a business to certain point, maybe creating/product managing a great product, maybe a great turnaround. That probably means some background in business, management, or sales, and whatever other technical skill fit for that sector, market, and job role (so, say, a science or engineering undergrad with an MBA is a super flexible combo). You both internally need to have expertise and ability to produce results, and be seen as regarded as such. After a big exit, the founders and early hires are all “haloed” for a period with their clear results.

BEING A GOOD INFLUENCER: That leads to the last point: influence. People need to see what you did and belief you can apply those skills to help do that that- whether in a direct new venture, or as a consultant supporting a few ventures, or supporting and thought leading or being a VC to help many ventures. In that way, social media is a great way to grow to your reach/following/readership, video and blogs and book (even eBooks) can help get your key techniques and approach clarified, and in-person events can provide the best engagement, results, and deepen loyalty. Best case scenario: you had real success and now are really able to help others. Worst case scenario: you were somehow able to get people to associate you with success (maybe someone else’s or essentially lie about a failure) and now leverage that social capital to financial exploit others, often others too out of their expertise realm to know better. In that way, if influence isn’t mixed with good leadership, you’re not strengthening others and society- you’re preying on them. You have every client to be a proud testimony and every follower a mastery-seeking aspirant that can see the depth you bring to the table. Back to good Coaching, how you’re able to work with client topics or craft new helpful approaches or techniques is a really a Coaching methodology question.

In summary:

  • Coaching takes formal training and sufficient client experience, it helps cultivate core competencies that are true regardless of market/technical domain, and becomes a great means/method to deliver value to others
  • Good business ability comes from having demonstrated clear success. Consider formal education, applied practical experience, and hopefully a technical niche to help support that. You want at least 1 big “win” to speak to.
  • Becoming an influence may come from really leveraging that big past success, and will use a range of online social, brief or long-form content, and in-person channels. The better you can make each client/follower/viewer’s experience of you and the results you get, the better. Remember, all your flaws are amplified and how you treat others does matter, so really bring out your good heart and noble leadership qualities to ensure long-term sustainable success here.
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