The coaching industry is in its Wild West phase, a pastiche of many different types of people motivated by similar goals – freedom and opportunity. In theory, these goals are good, but they can be achieved in either an ethical or unethical way – just like in the coaching industry.
The vast majority of people who are jumping into the coaching world are altruistically motivated. They want to take the lessons they’ve learned from overcoming real challenges and help others to do the same. There is a genuine desire to make a difference and help positively transform individuals, relationships, health, businesses, and society. And let’s be honest, we as a culture really need help. We are more divided, sicker, and emotionally and mentally challenged than we should be given all the opportunities and possibilities surrounding us.
Even though most of these health, relationship, business, and life coaches are genuinely good, they face a real challenge. That genuine desire to help must be translated into a message and find its way to an ideal client, which means if they want to help, they’ve got to learn marketing and sales.
Herein lies the issue – a genuine motivation (by most) that demands they learn a tangential skill to what they actually want to be doing. Coaches don’t want to do marketing; they want to help people. The core essence of marketing is very different from coaching, healing, or transformational work. These tend to be relational and generate deep connections and bonds, while marketing tends to be transactional.
The unfortunate truth is that the person who can market the best becomes successful. It’s a very rare thing to find someone who can authentically do both – operate from a desire to help and form deep relationships and be bold and outspoken enough to shout their message from the rooftops loud enough to break through the noise of the world around them and reach those ideal clients.
The people who benefit most are marketers, sometimes good coaches, and it’s disadvantageous to those who are good coaches but not naturally designed to be marketers. This fundamental issue of the coaching industry is not because coaches are evil; this is due mainly to the phase of development the coaching industry is in. If we want to see more selfless coaches succeed, we have to help the industry evolve.
We’re not the only ones seeing this. A handful of business coaches have gotten their hands slapped by regulatory agencies for making success claims and coaches getting called out in very nasty, public ways by former clients. Many psychologists, counselors, and professionals outside the industry have serious concerns, and rightfully so.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. The antidote to a marketing-based industry culture is not to shut it down but to help it evolve. The best path of evolution is not to wait for external governmental agencies to tell us what we can and can’t do. The best solution is to create a culture of ethical excellence and showcase true integrity and outcome-oriented coaches, thereby making a successful methodology and outstanding results the stars of the show, not just the best branding or marketing.
We at the Transformational and Coaching Industry Research Lab (TCIRL) have dedicated ourselves to creating this change by collecting data and doing research. We want to get crystal clear on what experiences people are actually having out there in the industry and what clients are experiencing when they work with a coach. We want to hear it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. As we gather this information, we can start to steer the industry in a more sophisticated and robust way, creating best practices and transparent systems to ensure that clients are getting the results their coach has implicitly or explicitly promised.
We know we can’t do this alone. We know that those in the “helping” industries – doctors, therapists, counselors, and the like- have important voices and, just like coaches, altruistically want the best for people genuinely asking for help. We invite you to reach out and help us create a network of voices. We also want to hear the experiences of those who have hired coaches in the last year. We have an industry-wide survey to better understand those experiences to start understanding what is happening.
External regulation by a government agency won’t create the best outcomes for more clients. That’s a last-ditch effort and a sign that the coaching and transformation industry has gotten so dark that it needs to be controlled.
Instead, by highlighting the quality of outcomes created by those who are in moral alignment and generating outstanding results, we can create a higher echelon of transformational change agents who are setting the standard for what is possible and then teach their methods to those coaches who aspire to that level of impact and income. This requires genuine care by coaches for coaches, helping each other along and ensuring that we’re all on the rising tide and creating more win-win-win results.
This is entirely possible, and we owe it to ourselves and our clients to make it a reality.
Dr. Matt Kreinheder is the leading voice for integrity in the transformational industries of coaching, healing, personal development, and wellness. He is the Founder of the Transformation & Coaching Industry Research Lab (TCIRL), a research company that seeks to prove the efficacy and validity of the coaching industry. Through TCIRL, Dr. Matthew strives to regulate and validate the billion-dollar transformational coaching industry and provide scientific proof to support coaching programs.