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If you are in the 2nd half of your career and exploring possible new directions, you may have considered training to be a coach. Or, perhaps you’ve already trained and are looking to build a business around those new skill sets. Coaching skills are highly valuable and will give you powerful new techniques to use – however, many of the coaches I’ve met find that the real challenge lies in what happens after the training.

In this post I share my reflections on the realities of becoming a coach and look at ways you can use those skills so that you get the best return on investment for that training. As you’ll see, those options could be broader than actually becoming a practicing coach.

The myth of the golden ticket

I’m increasingly meeting people who have had some exposure to coaches or are training to be a coach. The appeal of coaching is perfectly understandable, and often sounds quite attractive at the outset. They imagine a world in which they can paid for having chats with lots of people, so they see the investment of several thousand pounds to become a qualified coach as a golden ticket. It’s going to sustain their future for as long as they want to continue working. But here’s the problem…

Just being a trained coach is no longer enough. There has been a huge boom in people who call themselves coaches, and people who are buying coaches can seem to be quite confused about what they are looking for, unless they are sitting in an HR department. What’s more, coaching has become almost a substitute for acquiring the skills to be a proper consultant or is mistakenly seen an easy option for earning good money.

Newly qualified coaches come out of their training programmes and often it takes a long time to build up any kind of business and the rates they achieve are very disappointing. They find themselves competing more and more with other people coming out of the system – and there is a constant supply. In fact, the training companies are probably the only people who consistently make significant amounts of money from the coaching industry.

The value of coaching in practice

That does not mean that training to be a coach is worthless, far from it. As somebody who has trained to be a coach and run a coach training company, and who often engages people who have coaching skills, I believe coaching skills can be incredibly valuable to anybody who wants to take more control over their career. I also believe that a coaching culture in an organisation brings great benefit to the management and leadership team.

Whether you become an actual coach or not, coaching skills enable you to understand how to listen and engage people in a very powerful way. And, in addition to the core coaching skills, a coach may develop skills in NLP, psychometrics and other techniques. Coaching skills will also improve your emotional intelligence, your spiritual intelligence and your capacity to collaborate and engage with people in all sorts of situations.

Using the power of influence

So, if you’re thinking that the reality of actual coaching might not be as attractive as you hoped, or you want to explore how your coaching skills might open different doors, what are the options? You are developing the power of influence, and that is perhaps where the real potential lies.

For example, if you look at the best sales training programmes, they build techniques around asking powerful questions, listening carefully to people and helping your purchaser to buy rather than telling them what they need. A grounding in coaching skills will enable you to do that much more powerfully.

Increasingly in organisations where you are looking to move to work as an associate, or to move into an advisory position, all of the skills that you have as a coach will help you to navigate the complexities. Your coaching skills come into their own in organisations where things get done more through influence than through a position or authority. So, how might you use that influence?

An alternative route to use your coaching skills

A career as a Portfolio Executive will use every facet of being a coach while building a real and sustainable business. You will be able to work part-time for several mid-sized businesses in an executive role, helping them grow and deliver results. Your coaching skills will help you to support the businesses you work with and develop the people who work with you.

You’ll also help to empower, release and enable those businesses and their people to be more effective. You’ll act as a leader who coaches other business leaders as well as being somebody who has got the reflective capacity to coach themselves. And that makes for a very satisfying and sustainable career optionportfolio sustainable independence career future focus change opportunity enjoyment experience life 


It’s logical for a newly trained coach to first think about being a coach, but you don’t need to see it as the default option. Your coaching skills can also position you more powerfully to build an autonomous career in a way that gives you the edge over all the other coaches. Perhaps, if you look at using your coaching skills in a different way, it may end up being that golden ticket to the working future you aspire to after all…

To find out more, check out our Portfolio Executive programme.       


Charles McLachlan is the founder of FuturePerfect and on a mission to transform the future of work and business. The Portfolio Executive programme is a new initiative to help executives build a sustainable and impactful second-half-career. Creating an alternative future takes imagination, design, organisation and many other thinking skills. Charles is happy to lend them to you.