8 Qualities of a Good Coach – How to Be Truly Exceptional 

8 Qualities of a Good Coach – How to Be Truly Exceptional
September 26, 2022
Table of Contents

The coaching industry has exploded with new talent, but it’s difficult to measure the number of exceptional coaches in the world today…coaches who make way for massive impact and transformation in their clients’ lives. 

One thing is for certain though, almost every coach is always looking to be a better version of themselves and do a better job for their clients. Learning from more experienced peers, getting formal training, tracking self-improvement across engagements, and more. 

Different coaches have different approaches, methodologies, styles, and ideologies with which they craft their own unique manner of coaching. But there are some qualities that (ideally) every coach should possess – or at least aim to cultivate – in order to show up for clients and deliver optimal coaching results. 

We’ve curated a list of 8 qualities of a good coach that we believe are a must-have. Let’s dive deeper! 

1. Driven 

This is perhaps one of the most important characteristics for a coach to possess. As a self-start kind of profession, unlike a salaried position in an organisation, coaching requires a coach to have a drive and appetite to succeed in the industry. 

Largely, people become coaches and start their own practice or business – something that comes with a lot of uncertainty and ups & downs. A salaried job provides a certain stability to an individual, and having one’s own practice can be rather unpredictable. Without the necessary drive and strong reason as to ‘why’ a coach chooses to be a coach, it can become rather apparent in the way they show up for their clients (half-heartedly, for instance), which is a lose-lose situation for both the coach and the client. 

2. Non-judgmental  

Imagine a coach being judgmental!  

The entire premise of coaching, and also how it differs significantly from other similar practises such as mentoring, consulting, and counselling, is that it believes that the client has the ability to come up with their own solutions to problems and assess what is right or wrong for them. So, if a coach were to bring in their judgement about what they believe the client should do or how they ought to think, then they would no longer be coaching.  

Keeping their judgments and beliefs aside and listening to the client from a neutral place is a much-needed quality for a coach. 

3. Compassionate 

An individual or a group of people can never truly open up to their coach if the coach can’t hold space for their clients and show empathy towards them as well as their unique situations and difficulties. Even if they have not gone through what the client has faced (or is facing), it is vital that the coach is able to step into the client’s shoes and look at things from their perspective. 

Without the coach being understanding, kind, and uplifting towards the client, a coaching engagement and journey can never be truly successful. 

4. Curious  

Even though the coach is supposed to serve as the ‘expert’ guide to their clients, a ‘been there, done that’ kind of attitude may not necessarily contribute positively to the coaching session and engagement. 

For the coach to be able to truly be present for their clients, each situation would need to be addressed and looked at from a clean slate. Which means that the path or manner taken to address one client’s situation may not work for another client and thus having a ‘curiosity’ mindset can prevent a coach from falling into the trap of copy-pasting a strategy or approach for someone else. 

Another aspect of being curious is for the coach to also always have a ‘learner’ mindset. That means understanding that learning is never fully complete and to regularly take the time to upgrade their skills and credentials with the help of trainings and workshops in order to show up better for the client.  

5. Observant  

One of the essential skills and qualities of a good coach is to be extremely observant of the client in front of them. Without being observant of not just what is being said verbally, but also being aware of the non-verbal cues, is an important skill for a coach to cultivate. 

Not all clients are going to be expressive and communicative. By observing and silently making note of non-verbal cues such as body language, facial expressions, eye movements, hand gestures, and even the smallest of twitches and flutters, a coach can know a lot more about the client in front of them than what they’d consciously tell them. 

6. Authentic 

One of the most underrated of qualities of a good coach, authenticity is not only vital in any coach-client relationship but can be the difference between a good vs an exceptional experience for the client. In a coach-client relationship, there is this expectation for the coach to be the ‘expert’ and there is thus the added expectation that they must know it all and have solutions for every problem. But there are times when a coach doesn’t know or have an answer – and in those instances, to be able to let the client know the same with utmost honesty and humility is what sets a good coach apart.  

Another situation in which authenticity is paramount is when a coach feels, due to whatever reason, that they are not the right fit for the client – even after they have been coaching them for a while. In that case, the coach should be able to tell the client that they will not be able to continue with them and if possible, refer them to another professional who they feel might be a better fit. This serves in the best interest of the individual and that is, after all, what every coach wants for their clients! 

7. Professional 

There are times in a coach-client relationship when the client becomes immensely grateful for the way the coach has opened their mind about several things and enabled change for the better. The client may also feel a sense of comfort and relief being able to share many aspects of their personal and professional life with the coach – which they are not able to talk about with anyone else. No matter how comfortable and easy it gets with a coach, a professional front must always be maintained between a coach and a client.  

The coach can act as a sounding board, a guiding hand, but the boundaries should never get crossed by becoming over-familiar with the client or becoming a ‘friend’ to them, wherein the dynamics of the relationship change. The coach can be friendly, but not become an actual friend – at least within the duration of the coaching engagement. To maintain the professional dynamic is important for the sanctity of the work that needs to happen. 

8. Trustworthy 

A major component of coaching is to provide an environment of trust to the client to help them open up and feel safe in doing so. Asserting that everything that the client shares in the coaching session is absolutely confidential and taking care to stick to that promise is an absolutely necessary quality for a coach to possess.  

Building trust is continuous process in coaching and a coach can cultivate it in a multitude of ways including: demonstrating sincere curiosity & interest, reassuring confidentiality, building rapport through body language (mirroring, tonality, etc.), being 100 percent present, being non-judgmental, being reliable & accountable by being true to your words and following through on your actions, and more. 


1. What are the qualities of a good coach? 

There are many skills and qualities of a good coach that can help set them apart from others. The ones that are absolutely essential for every coach to possess include: being driven, trustworthy, non-judgmental, observant, authentic, professional, goal-oriented, compassionate, and professional. 

About Simply.Coach

Simply.Coach is an enterprise-grade coaching software designed to be used by individual coaches and coaching businesses. Trusted by ICF-accredited and EMCC-credentialed coaches worldwide, Simply.Coach is on a mission to elevate the experience and process of coaching with technology-led tools and solutions.  

About the author
Content Marketing Manager @Simply.Coach

Ipsita Nayak is a full-time writer-editor-content strategist and a part-time NLP coach & yoga teacher. She believes conventions are overrated, has a disproportionate need for solo time over social time, and loves a good mix of sci-fi and trashy TV in her free time!

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