16 Lessons Coaches Learned By Working With Their Own Coach

Who coaches the coach? Whether the focus of a coaching practice is on helping clients improve their businesses, careers, leadership skills or personal confidence, without finding guidance in their own lives and tending to their own needs first, a professional coach may struggle to help others do the same.

Many members of Forbes Coaches Council, understanding the immense value of the work they do, opt to engage with a coach themselves. Below, 16 members share what they’ve learned from those experiences, exploring how working with a coach has impacted where they are today in their practice and how they deliver services to their clients.

1. Working With Different Types Of Coaches Is Beneficial

Throughout my career, I have worked with different coaches, each fostering unique aspects of learning. Peer coaches offer space for safe, reciprocal practice, whereas mentor coaches help me to reflect on who I am becoming as a coach. By contrast, coaching supervisors support me in grappling with the more complex or challenging coaching situations I may encounter. Each is important in their own way. – Shelli Hendricks, Blue Horizon Solutions

2. Hiring A Coach Who Has A Coach Is A Good Idea

My advice: Hire a coach who has a coach. Too many of us are trying hard to tout ourselves as experts and leaders and teachers, while it takes real humility and sagacity to listen and engage in deep, lasting, meaningful personal development—to not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk, and be better for it via continuous learning and humility. To quote Jimi Hendrix, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.” – Nalini Saxena, Elicit™ Consulting

3. It Is Key To Choose A Coach Whose Methods Challenge You

I have had one or more coaches for the past 15-plus years. One of my top criteria in choosing a new coach is that their method challenges me. This ensures that I learn from the experience, either by developing my own coaching approach and business or by finding out what’s not right for me. I also love to refer people who are not a good fit for me to coaches I have worked with. – Micha Goebig, Go Big Coaching & Communications, LLC

4. A Coach Can Stay Current By Working With A Coach

Steven Covey calls it “sharpening the saw.” My coach is an expert in his field, which is developing frameworks. Our relationship allows me to get coaching on my opportunities and stay up to date on the latest developments in the theoretical underpinnings of our work. I find this balance very useful for me to stay current. I help leaders innovate how they lead, and being current is part of my brand promise. – Maureen Metcalf, Innovative Leadership Institute

5. A Coach Can Help When Work Challenges Become Unnavigable

Back in 2009, I engaged a coach when I was faced with work challenges I could no longer navigate. Thirteen years later, this success coach is the reason I am more self-aware and have a higher level of emotional intelligence. As a result, I have navigated workplace challenges and crises with ease, landed in the C-suite and now, as an executive coach, I am helping others do the same. I’m so thankful! – Tinna Jackson, Jackson Consulting Group, LLC

6. Having A Coach Makes You A More Supportive Advisor And Consultant

Early on, I bristled at being called a “coach.” I saw myself as more of an advisor and consultant to my clients. But having a coach, who likewise has provided me with tools and structure, has built my confidence in providing that support to my own clients. Now, I am authentic in sharing that I act as an “advisor” to my clients; and they choose me as their “executive coach” for that very reason. – Candice Gottlieb-Clark, Dynamic Team Solutions

7. A Coach Who Is Levels Ahead Of You Can Help You Get There Too

My coach is a billionaire. He’s exited companies for multiple billions of dollars, and that is the specific skill set that he’s mentoring me on. No matter where you’re at in life, there’s always somebody who is levels ahead of you. If you need a coach, you need a mentor who is levels ahead of you and can help you get there. – Ryan Stewman, Break Free Academy

8. A Coach Can Serve As A ‘Mirror’ To Help You Identify Blind Spots

I have always invested in my own coach. I’m PCC- and CPCC-certified, and I’m proud of my accomplishments; however, those certifications do not mean that I know everything. I do not. I still have a lot to learn and always will. Having a coach allows me the intentional time to speak through my challenges and identify blind spots that I may not have seen without that “mirror” working with me. – Carrie-Ann Barrow, Scaling Strategies

9. Experiencing Coaching Yourself Teaches You Its True Value

When coaches understand what it’s like to be coached, they know how their clients may feel, influencing how they coach. They can learn about great coaching questions and which ones spark the greatest insights. By experiencing coaching themselves, they know its value. We all have blind spots, and coaching can help expose and address them so that they won’t negatively impact our coaching services. – Ron Young, Trove, Inc.

10. Engaging Coaches Can Help You Deepen Your Clients’ Results

Throughout my coaching career, I have engaged coaches because I believe in this form of collaboration. I have had mentor coaches (for coaching methodology), business coaches (for mindset and results) and equity-centered coaches (for deeper personal and business alignment with my values). Each relationship brought significant personal and business growth and deepened my clients’ results. – Sundae Schneider-Bean, Sundae Schneider-Bean GmbH

11. Working With Your Own Coach Helps You Guide Clients By Example

My relationship with my coach is an essential anchor—for my practice and for my life. I workshop questions related to clients, am held accountable to goals and commitments and am pushed to go even further in my work and personal life. I rely on this support to show up more brilliantly for my clients because I am doing the work as well, so I can show by example what it means to walk this walk! – Joanne Heyman, Heyman Partners

12. A Coach Helps You Tap Into Your Own Wisdom

Currently, I have a spiritual mentor and coach. I have learned mindfulness, service and the concept of looking within from him. I have also learned to tap into my own wisdom—I am wiser than I think I am. A service mindset makes me deliver more than my clients sign up for, and me giving more means my clients keep coming back for more. – Devika Das, CORE Executive Presence

13. Even Experienced Coaches Can Gain Something From Working With A Coach

I’ve learned that no matter how experienced you are as a coach, there’s always something to be gained from working with someone else. Whether it’s learning new techniques or just getting a different perspective on things, having a coach is invaluable. It’s like having a personal trainer: They’re there to make sure you’re doing everything right and keep you accountable when it comes down to it. – Willena Long, Career Boss Academy

14. A Coach Can Highlight Both Your Natural Strengths And Negative Patterns

One of the most important growth experiences I’ve had from coaching involved gaining a deep awareness of my blind spots. My coach was able to highlight the natural strengths that I didn’t notice as well as the negative patterns that were holding me back. For example, she highlighted my difficulty in setting boundaries with my time. We worked together to create a work calendar that respected my preferences. – Alyssa Adams, Alyssa Adams Coaching

15. Coaches Should Commit To Their Own Self-Improvement

Everyone who seeks to improve should have a coach. I’ve had several, and I have stuck with one for nearly ten years. If you’re engaging with a coach who doesn’t have their own coach, I’d second-guess the engagement. After all, shouldn’t they commit to their own self-improvement if they expect you to do the same? – Shawn Casemore, Casemore and Co. Inc.

16. Coaches Can Get Input On Challenges From Peer-Supervision Groups

A slight variation on this theme is the concept of peer supervision for coaches. I am part of a monthly peer-supervision group where colleagues confidentially share specific coaching challenges they are facing and get input from peers. This can be done in a structured manner or less formally, although I find the structure helpful. It is amazing how often peers have faced similar challenges. – Kathy Bernhard, KFB Leadership Solutions

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