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How to Become a World Class Coach

Posted on June 22, 2022
world class coach

Learning steps — they begin with unconscious incompetence. We are blissfully unaware that we don’t know, that we are sadly lacking in skills because we have never considered the matter.

As a child, I had never even dreamed of driving a car. I had no idea how much I didn’t know because I have never even considered the matter. Then, as I moved into my teen years, my Dad let me sit behind the wheel of his car. Oh my! I was awash in the next learning step — conscious incompetence. As I faced all those knobs and dials, I was keenly aware of how much I did not know.

When it came time for me to get my driver’s license, I took driver’s education and practiced a lot, much to the chagrin of my poor Dad who had to ride along with me, bless him. Over time I became consciously competent. I COULD drive, and it took quite a bit of a concentration on my part. Relax, my driver’s ed teacher would say . . . only it sounded more like, “REEEELAX!!!!!!!!X@#!#@#X.” I had to take my driver’s ed exam several times before I passed, but with time and practice, I was a driver.

Today I jump in the car and take off without even thinking twice. I have reached unconscious competence. Still, sometimes when there are unusual circumstances — heavy traffic, fog, or slick roads — I have to give driving all my attention. This brings me to alertness as I slip into conscious competence again.

This is the path to mastery as we succeed and fail and succeed again, dancing back and forth between different learning steps. It’s the same with being a world class coach: the path isn’t linear, which is part of the fun of it all.

The Journey to Becoming World Class Is a Challenging Ride

Nobody ever became world class at anything because they didn’t have any weaknesses. Few are the geniuses who spring from the womb as fully formed masters, and even these “prodigies” worked very hard to develop their abilities to be world class.

Still, for some reason, people seem to want to skip over this process and find an easier ride. I hear students comparing themselves with those who have been coaching for years and judging themselves harshly when they come up short. They imagine that they just don’t have what it takes to be a world class coach.

Everyone is looking for the 10 steps to mastery, that fast elevator ride that enables you to pass over the incredibly awkward and vulnerable process of learning something new. Many potentially great coaches give up far too early or go for the “quick approach,” investing in superficial training so they can be “done” with their learning.

Being a World Class Coach Takes Commitment and Practice

Mastery at anything takes time, commitment, and most of all . . . practice. Coaching is no different.

The fastest way I know to world class coaching is to embrace your shortcomings.

  • Seek out feedback that points towards what needs development.
  • Study and work with those who will provide direct, loving, and spacious feedback.
  • Then apply yourself to developing those more fallow aspects.

It certainly won’t hurt to grow in new areas, and you’ll find your coaching will ripen and mature in the process.

How about you — what do you think makes a world class coach? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Written By

Karen Kimsey-House

Karen Kimsey-House, MFA, CPCC, is the Co-Founder of The Co-Active Training Institute (previously Coaches Training Institute), the world's oldest and largest in-person coach training school. She also co-created the Co-Active relationship philosophy, which underpins CTI's world-renowned coaching and leadership programs. Karen has also written Co-Active Coaching and Co-Active Leadership. She continues to lead CTI workshops and is a dynamic keynote speaker around the world, committed to pioneering Co-Activity in challenging environments and troubled populations, and is on a mission of global, transformative change.