Every coach brings his/her own unique qualities, creativities and individualistic approaches to coaching. Personal background, education, skillsets, experiences, all play an important role in forming a coach’s approach.
Read on to find out what coaching styles are, their importance, different types of coaching styles and how to develop an effective coaching style of your own.
What are coaching styles?
Coaching styles are basically personalized approaches through which a coach works with their clients in their coaching journey.
Coaching styles can be termed as social approaches or behaviour types that a coach brings to the process (based on their own credentials, experiences, skills, personality, approach to helping individuals, problem solving ability etc.) to help their client reach their true potential.
As a coach, having knowledge of multiple coaching styles and their implementation is not just desired but actually necessary – after all coaching is not a one-size-fits-all endeavour. Different clients have different needs and different responses to particular coaching styles.
The importance of coaching styles
Coaching styles are important as not only do they help deliver better results to the clients, they also help coaches hone their skills by truly understanding how to handle different clients with different personalities, backgrounds, positions, challenges and aspirations.
When a coach knows in which situations and with whom to use a particular coaching style, it can provide the client the much-needed discipline to:
- Stay focused on the coaching process
- Identify their issues
- Formulate goals to address challenges
- Chart out action steps
- Upgrade, sharpen or learn new skills if needed, and
- Bolster self-confidence and decision-making ability
all which lead to improved coaching outcomes.
Different types of coaching styles
There are multiple types of coaching styles that suit different clients with different requirements. Let’s take a look…
As the word itself says, the democratic coaching style gives the coachee/client the freedom to explore their own way forward, but also accept complete accountability for the results, within the coaching process. When a coach adopts a democratic coaching style, they only step in to ensure that the process stays on track. The coach empowers the client to take charge of their situation by encouraging them to share their ideas and visions, come up with novel ideas on how they can upgrade/improve their skillsets, visualize where they want to be against where they are, brainstorm strategies to solve their issues in an effort to reach their targets. This coaching style may be a bit slow in delivering results as the client is supported to consider all options to overcome/change their situation.
This type of coaching is where the coach makes all the decisions, or rather the coach is given that right by the client themselves on their behalf. The coach decides the what, where, why and the how. This coaching style is about learning discipline, setting specific goals and following orders to achieve those goals. The coachee will follow direction from the coach with the intention of producing their desired final outcome.
Sports coaches adopt authoritarian coaching style to ensure that the players stay as a cohesive unit focused only on the team and its goals to achieve victory in the game.
Holistic coaching addresses all round development and achieving a balance in all areas of life – health, family, career, finance. Coaches who adopt a holistic coaching style have the fundamental belief that all main spheres of an individual’s life are connected and all of them must be in harmony to achieve constructive outcomes.
The clients are urged by the coach to reflect on all their choices to gain true perspective of their options, connect with their inner selves, include relaxation and stress management techniques to calm their mind and body in order to produce tangible and positive results.
In this coaching style, the coach describes to their client the exact area that they are supposed to concentrate on during the coaching session. This style of coaching is used when quick fire results are expected. With specific directions from the coach, the client is encouraged to reflect on what they have learned during the session and how they can implement those lessons in their desire to achieve their goals. The coach gives regular feedback so that the client can use that input to move on to their next objective.
Bureaucratic coaching is a style which is used in situations where, having a set hierarchy for decision making, rules and guidelines is necessary. This is applied in conditions that demand structure and stringent security & safety policies and where a top-down order is essential (such as in the military and allied businesses).
This type of coaching style follows a chain of command with fixed duties assigned to each individual in order to focus on achieving the group or organization’s targets. It is not centred on an individual but is more about encouraging those individuals to perform as a part of a group to improve accountability, efficiency, consistency and safety and follow direct orders to organizational attain goals.
The developmental coaching style focuses on creating self-awareness in the client about their choices in life. It helps the client gain perspective of their strengths and weaknesses, interpreting feedback, developing instinct in making informed choices and generally taking control of your life decisions to achieve objectives. The coach encourages the client to be fully present in the moment so that they can positively manage their future.
Mindful coaching involves the coach helping their client identify roadblocks to their progress, finding out limitations – in behaviours or attitudes – that are holding them back and preventing them from realizing their true potential.
Mindful coaching can help an individual see a particular pattern or action that they can change to improve their life. But the coach does not actively give out advice on how the client can solve their problem, the coach only helps the client find their own problem areas and work out answers by understanding their own potential and available resources.
Transformational coaching is for those clients who are going through a major life adjustment (career switch, job loss, relationships, financial troubles, health etc.) or want to create a real change in their lives.
This coaching style is about urging the client to take a good look at themselves, their attitudes and views and how they are affecting their life. A coach can empower the client to work on their self-image, unlock their true potential, boost confidence, and implement a real turnaround that will result in a positive transformation and attainment of life goals.
How to develop a coaching style of your own
Being well versed with multiple coaching styles is an advantage as it helps the coach empathize more with their client, makes them more flexible and open in their approach towards managing different clients with different needs and also helps them further refine their judgement of how clients should be guided during the engagement.
So, how can a coach develop an effective coaching style of their own? Here are some pointers…
1. Create a secure environment for coaching
The very basis of effective coaching lies in having an honest, open conversation between the coach and the coachee. For any coach to work well, they have to first understand where the client is coming from, their challenges, potentials and aspirations.
It is necessary for the coach to create a positive, safe and comfortable environment for the client where the client feels relaxed enough to share their innermost feelings so the coach can then proceed and implement coaching techniques that can help the client succeed in their mission.
2. Empathize without being judgmental
One of the most important qualities that a coach must possess is to truly empathize with the individuals they are trying to help. Adopting a non-judgmental approach to any issue/s that a client reveals and offering support without your personal opinion clouding the output, is a skill that is vital to becoming a good, effective coach.
3. Encourage out-of-the-box thinking to tackle problems
Sometimes not sticking to the tried and tested formula works wonders while coming up with solutions to tricky issues. But for that to happen, the coach needs to nurture an open thought process, encourage their client to think beyond the accepted solutions, ask open ended questions that get the brain cogs moving without posing limitations. By inviting the client to suggest solutions, the coach is showing trust in the client’s ability to work through their challenges which can not only boost the client’s self-confidence but also prompt deeper, novel thought process and ideation.
4. Recognize the client’s strengths and amplify them
The usual method focused on the coach knowing their client’s limitations & strong points whereas the newer, more engaging one encourages the coach to recognize their client’s strength and then enhance them! Concentrate more on augmenting the strength areas, rather than fixing the weakness, to help the client succeed in their task. It is a more positive coaching technique and will also boost the client’s confidence in their own abilities.
5. Set out clear objectives
For any coaching process to succeed there has to be a clear, precise goal in sight as only then can you structure a strategy, action steps and their execution in collaboration with your client. It is the coach’s responsibility to make sure that the client understands the end goal and the actions required by them to achieve those targets. The coach needs to assure the client that although they will be taking the necessary steps to fulfil their tasks, the coach will provide solid support all through the journey.
6. Give honest but constructive feedback
Encouraging the client to build on their strong points is essential… what is also essential is for them to accept real, honest feedback (even if it is unpalatable) for the coaching process to deliver any measurable outcome. Constructive feedback is vital for the client’s progress as it helps them get a true picture of where they stand, areas that work and areas that don’t work, changes they need to implement to eventually succeed.
An effective coach is one who builds a secure, trusting relationship with their client that allows them to give honest, constructive feedback without fear of causing misunderstandings with the client.
7. Take responsibility of the outcome
The primary aim of a coach is to guide, support and impart knowledge that helps their client become better versions of themselves and succeed in their lives. But just as the client is accountable for executing actions that will take them closer to realizing their goals, the coach is also responsible for the outcome of the coaching program, not just in regard to the client but also in connection to their own growth during the process.
Simply put, if the client succeeds, give a small pat on your back for a job well done, if the results are mixed, go back to the drawing board, analyse what went wrong and what worked, come up with a better strategy, think about what can be done differently as well as more effectively to give your clients a truly rewarding coaching experience.
8. Keep learning
As a famous quote aptly puts it, ‘teaching is a great way to keep learning’! Similarly, a coach who is always curious, eager to learn, enhance their knowledge & creativity, adopt new technologies, is not judgmental and opens their mind to multiple possibilities is the one who is fully committed to their coaching practice and will have the highest chance of succeeding.
We’ve seen that there are multiple coaching styles that coaches can adopt as per their qualifications and more importantly as per their client’s needs. Good coaches are the ones who are not rigid, don’t stick to only one coaching style but rather adapt their approach based on the context and client.
Coaching is a continuous process, that needs to adapt to the ebb and flow of its surroundings. Various coaching styles are effective techniques that coaches have at their disposal that help them deliver a rewarding and effective coaching experience to their client.
- How do I choose a coaching style?
As a coach it is important to present your true self, so while choosing your coaching style first understand the type of coaching you want to impart, make sure that you are comfortable with the style that you have chosen, understand where the client is and where they want to go, their behaviour, motivation and driving points, consider the current coaching style and assess if it is delivering desired outcomes. If not be flexible & adapt your coaching style that aligns with your client’s needs, will improve their performance and help them realize their true potential.