the right wayDecision Coaching is a specialized type of coaching. A Professional Decision Coach combines the skills and techniques obtained from coaching individuals and organizations together with a knowledge and understanding of decision making principles, decision tools and best practices. As a result, a decision coach can successfully guide clients through important or difficult life, career and business decisions.

A Professional Decision Coach helps clients become clear about their personal values and how they impact the decision and helps clarify the real, upstream decision to be made. The coach helps the client set the criteria for a successful decision and develop and evaluate options. He organizes the decision process into specific steps and helps the client work through each step avoiding common decision traps. A decision coach uses specific decision making tools and resources to help the client analyze the issues involved, assess risk, evaluate available options and make a wise decision.

About Coaching: Professional coaching, often called life coaching, career coaching, business coaching or success coaching, began in the mid-1990’s. The coaching technique has been shown to be highly successful and many organizations and individuals have used coaching to help overcome obstacles and reach goals. A trained, skilled and experienced coach can be very effective in helping to achieve success.

This type of “Coaching” works a lot like a sports coaching situation. If you hire a golf coach to help you improve your golf score he will look at your game and tell you objectively the good and the bad. He will make suggestions, help you brainstorm ideas to improve various problem areas, recommend a practice routine and expect you to follow it. The end result is that you improve your golf game.

“Coaching”, in general, works much the same way. However, coaching has become a buzz word with many people without training or experience calling themselves a coach. A true professional coach should have received an education in the basic principles and techniques of coaching and have sufficient experience to be effective in helping the client achieve his or her goals. While there is currently no accreditation for decision coaching, based upon my training, knowledge and experience I feel comfortable in calling myself a Professional Decision Coach.

Word Decision and arrowsAbout Decision Making: Decision making is one of the most important ingredients of success yet we are not taught this crucial life skill. With small decisions a mistake is not serious. However, with a major life, career or business decision, the wrong choice can be devastating.  A bad decision can cost dearly in terms of money, time or lost opportunity.

The art and science of decision making has been studied in detail. There are numerous books on the subject, some websites and a couple of excellent Ted Talks.  The recent emergence of neuroscience as a way to understand the thinking process has added new insights into how we make decisions. As a result of decision research we have a better understanding in the mental processes we use in making decisions.

We now understand that  humans evolved using the trial-and-error process of decision making and the undesirable consequences of that technique in making important decisions. We understand the biases and prejudices we inadvertently apply in making decisions and how critical thinking can help us avoid those mistakes. We know how “framing” a decision can affect the outcome for better or worse. We know that following specific sequential steps in working through a decision results in the best outcome. And we know that using certain “decision tools” can help us overcome our brain’s physical limitations and more effectively evaluate our options.

An Example of Decision Coaching: I was recently retained by a client to help him make an important career decision. The client was a scientist at a very prestigious research facility. He had been offered a position at another research facility that was not as well known or prestigious. The offer had some very strong points in its favor including a much higher salary, more freedom to conduct his research, and more opportunity for advancement. However, his current position allowed him better access to sources to fund his research and the location provided much greater opportunity for him to enjoy his personal hobbies and interests.

While some elements of both could be compared there was also the “apples and oranges” aspect to the decision making process. We first examined his values relative to the options presented and then worked through the decision process step by step: framing the decision, setting the criteria, determining the relevant facts, evaluating each option and assessing the risk of each. He chose to go with the new opportunity. He had been leaning in that direction but the decision coaching process gave him confidence that he was making the right choice.

Decision Coaching is more than analytical help with the decision making process. A Professional Decision Coach should understand you, your values, long term goals, wants and needs. He should see you as a real person and, at the same time, see you more objectively than you see yourself. A decision coach needs to understand what you really want out of your life and always consider that in helping you work through your decision.

A Professional Decision Coach will not make the decision for you. He will act as a skilled guide, consultant and adviser to help you arrive at your decision but ultimately the decision should be and needs to be made by you.