How to Choose a Coach

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The value of coaching is permeating the organizational world. Successful senior executives have always relied on confidants to give them honest feedback – a critical element of good coaching. Increasingly, they are inviting coaches into their management meetings to make observations about group dynamics and their implication for creative thinking and organizational decision making. Mid-level managers whose teams, stripped of support staff, are drowning in workload are bringing in efficiency coaches. Senior managers whose workplace behaviors were developed under a set of norms which have changed are being sensitized and retooled by fair employment practices coaches. Career coaches are becoming a standard feature in the landscape of downsizing and out placement.

But what exactly is coaching and how do you know if you have a competent coach? Does the coach have to be able to run your organization better than you? No – most tennis coaches have not achieved the star status of their best performing clients. Does the coach have to be an expert in your industry? Not necessarily. Peter Drucker never ran a high-tech firm. Then what do good coaches have to be able to do?


A good coach has to be able to do the following for clients:


Your coach must be able to perceive and appreciate the strengths, talents and unique gifts you bring to your job. Only when appreciation and trust exists will you be able to accept coaching. Otherwise you will naturally respond defensively.


An effective coach is a keen observer. Keen as in HAWK EYED. The coach observes every gesture, tone, hesitation, choice of words, body language, motion, innuendo, tactic, decision. A coaching session is not a casual “Let’s get together and talk.” It is closer to getting an MRI in which you are being observed from every angle. You should be somewhat startled by how much your coach learns about you in a very short time.


Change requires mechanisms for accurately perceiving the existing state of affairs so you know what needs to be changed . A strong coach will tell you clearly and precisely what he or she perceives about your behaviors and their effects on others. The coach will choose one or two high-payback behaviors to focus on and not overwhelm you with a stream of observations undifferentiated in importance.


A skillful coach will articulate the consequences of your current behaviors – the price you are paying for these and the price you are likely to pay in the future. He or she will encourage you to weigh the costs and benefits of your current behaviors and decide if you want to change these. The coach will respect you making a conscious choice to live with the behaviors or work to change them, but will not allow you to simply use the old behaviors by reason of habit.


An effective coach will help you generate options for different behaviors that would be more productive. The coach will pay attention to which option interests you and encourage you to try that option first as, whether or not it is his or her first choice, you are more likely to stick with it over the long run.


A hands-on coach will have you practice new behaviors or difficult conversations before you engage in them. Action plans, strategies, role plays, all have their place in preparing you to do your best in each situation.


Learning from doing is significantly enhanced by “After Action Reviews” or debriefs. A results-oriented coach will examine with you what went well, what did not, and what are the take away lessons for the future.


A supportive coach will stay alert for instances in which you are using the new behaviors well and will validate these. Perfection is not a realistic goal, but continuous improvement is. Shining a spotlight on an instance of improved behavior helps you use it as a model for future behavior.


As knowledge of you and your business grows, a trusted coach becomes a thinking partner. Effective coaches are adept at posing the right questions to help you examine issues from new and often deeper perspectives. Dialogue about problems often leads to detection of the unseen pitfalls or unrecognized potential in situations. As useful as these discussion are, rather than letting them become a substitute for appropriate group collaboration, the coach helps you forge the culture and processes that utilize the wisdom of teams and maximize their commitment.


At the highest level, once the issues that precipitated the need or desire for coaching have been addressed, coach-client relations may evolve into forums for transformation. Coaching sessions become a conversation to help you explore your deeper values and find and express your unique voice on which great leadership is built.


Before you sign on with a coach, you can and should do your reference checks, but they are not as important as what you experience in your initial encounter.

Coaching is a cumulative process. You and your coach will go over the same or similar ground several times while working together. Each time you build on previous progress.

But even at the first meeting when you discuss your interests with a potential coach, you should be able to experience the process begin. If you feel you are being seen in fresh and perceptive ways, if you feel appreciated rather than threatened, if you are given feedback which smacks of honesty and options for proceeding which seem workable, you have probably found a good coach with whom to work. At that point my advice is simple – get to work!

Please contact us for your coaching needs.

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Ms. Uman also works with teams: the interplay of one-on-one coaching with members of a team while simultaneously focusing on team dynamics has helped her clients develop collaborative behaviors and increase trust among team members, improve personal and team accountability, and improve productivity by individuals and the team as a whole. Ms. Uman specializes in gender dynamics within teams, woman-managed teams, and teams where women are in the majority. She helps these teams identify the behaviors that undermine others, and develop both an attitude and behaviors that help the team members and leaders become more powerful and effective.

As a certified organizational consultant, Ms. Uman specializes in conducting organizational assessments and developing reports that illuminate the patterns and themes of organizational behavior, enabling organizations to move positively and effectively into a successful future.

As an organizational trainer, Ms. Uman designs, develops and conducts a broad array of workshops including leadership development, teambuilding, career development, running effective meetings, and managing gender differences. She has received the certification as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) designated by the International Coaching Federation.

Her clients include:

  • Crestline Hotels
  • Georgetown University
  • Intelligence Community
  • National Cancer Institute, National Institute of Health
  • JBS International
  • Russell Reynolds Associates
  • American Psychological Association
  • Software Engineering Institute

Ms. Uman holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, a Master’s in Education from the University of Maine, and certificates in Organization Development and Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University. Her experience includes serving as an instructor at George Mason University, Georgetown University, Northern Virginia Community College and Mt. Vernon College. She is certified in aa array of assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) EI.20 (Emotional Intelligence) and EI 360, Change Management (Prosci) and was also certified by William Bridges and Associates to conduct workshops and provide consulting services on managing organizational transitions.

As a coach, Mandeep brings this experience, and his fundamental belief in each person’s innate abilities, to create the non-judgmental and energized space for leaders and teams to truly get in touch with what is important to them, and rev up the energy and momentum to make it happen.  His clients take ownership of their own power. They also leverage their own observations to get deep insights into what’s holding them back and then break those habits.  A number of his clients have reported their work together has been transformative.

In addition, these leaders and teams begin to accept the world as it shows up, rather than the way they wish it would.  That accepted, they hold the courage of their convictions pragmatically, communicate their vision authentically and directly, and set about influencing the people, networks and systems of which they are part to create the enabling environments within which their organizations, projects and people succeed.

Mandeep considers himself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to express his passions through two completely different careers separated by two decades.  The path of transition has been bumpy and fascinating, and has provided Mandeep the direct experience and insights which make him the coach he is.

Mandeep is also an Executive Coach with the American University Key Executive Leadership Programs.

As a consultant, Mandeep facilitates interventions with senior leadership teams, helping them surface key issues and create jointly owned action plans to solve them. He is adept at uncovering unclear, missing or misaligned roles and accountabilities, business process gaps, and unspoken organizational agreements on topics that are undiscussable.  Mandeep can create environments within which teams bring up the elephant in the room.

Mandeep has a background that spans 35+ years of hands-on experience creating, and facilitating the creation of, solutions to complex problems involving multiple stakeholders.  In his career, he has worked internationally, across cultures and organizational boundaries, to build IT Systems, reengineer business processes, provide organizational and innovation consulting services, nurture client and employee relationships, and grow companies in roles spanning coaching, facilitation, individual contribution, and project, line and executive management.  He has done this within large international organizations, federal and local governments, non-profits, consulting companies, and start-ups.

MANDEEP’S CLIENTS have included a wide range of organizations:

  • Government & International Organizations: The World Bank Group; DFAS, EPA, FBI, FEMA, ICE, NIC (National Institution of Corrections), OCC, TSA, USSS; Fairfax County, VA.
  • Non-profit: US Green Building Council
  • Private Sector: Allegis Group, Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg, Progeny Advanced Genetics, Turner Construction (US); Applied Materials (USA, China & Taiwan); Grupo Elektra (Mexico); Tata Chemicals, North Delhi Power Limited, Samsung, IBM and  Konkan Railways (India); and EFI (USA and India).


  • Georgetown University Certification in Leadership Coaching (CLC)
  • ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC)
  • The Leadership Circle Profile (LCP) & Collective Leadership
  • Hogan Assessments (Hogan Personality Inventory [HPI]; Hogan Development Survey [HDS]; Motives, Values, Preferences Inventory [MVPI])
  • Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI);
  • DiSC Assessment


  • MBA, Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta
  • BSEE, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur