So, you’re a coach. You have that intuitive feeling that you can help your clients and aim to bring out the best in each of them. As a coach, you need to understand what makes people tick so that you can provide them with the support they need to get through their challenges.
But what makes one type of coach different from another? There are many types of coaches, each with its strengths and weaknesses. And if you’re a coach who wants to expand their business and attract more clients, this is an important lesson to have under your belt.
Here are the most common types of coaches and how they can help you define your coaching style:
The Democratic Coach
A democratic coaching style involves the coach facilitating a collaborative and inclusive approach to decision-making and problem-solving. The coach encourages the client to actively be involved in goal setting, developing strategies for overcoming challenges—and then applying them enthusiastically!
Coaching with a democratic style is helpful because it promotes the open sharing of ideas and expertise between coach and client. This can lead to the development of more creative and innovative solutions to challenges and help build trust and teamwork within the partnership.
Here are some ways that a coach might use the democratic style:
- Enabling clear and genuine communication
- Fostering one-on-one conversations and brainstorming sessions to get each other’s thoughts and perspectives
- Helping the client set goals and develop comprehensive and multifaceted strategies
- Serving as a resource for the client as they take charge of their development and growth
Coaches who embrace the democratic style will be able to better serve, direct, and guide their clients in a way that improves their performance and creates fruitful results.
The Autocratic Coach
An autocratic coaching style is characterized by a top-down approach to leadership in which the coach has complete control and makes all the decisions. In this style, the coach has ultimate authority and expects the client to follow orders.
The autocratic style might be used when the coach is working with a client that needs more experience in carrying out new tasks or processes. You may also use it when time is of the essence and the coach needs to ensure that the client works efficiently and effectively to achieve specific goals.
Coaches with an autocratic style might apply their approach in a variety of ways, including:
- Presenting specific guidelines and requirements
- Implementing rigorous guidelines for the client to follow
- Controlling all courses of action concerning client objectives, plans, and activities
- Closely monitor the client to make sure they’re following instructions and fulfilling expectations
While autocratic coaching can be effective in some situations, it may also have drawbacks. The risk is that it doesn’t promote teamwork and building trust and doesn’t encourage open communication or participation in decision-making. It may also be less effective in promoting creativity and innovation, as the client may feel less inclined to share ideas or challenge the status quo.
Autocratic coaching may be appropriate in certain situations, but coaches should keep in mind that this style has limitations and should consider using a collaborative approach when possible.
The Holistic Coach
Holistic coaching is an approach that considers the whole person—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The coach recognizes that all aspects of the client’s life are interconnected and seeks to comprehensively address any issues or challenges.
Holistic coaching focuses on the client’s overall well-being and performance, as opposed to a more task-oriented style of coaching that may be used when working with clients to help them achieve goals. A coach might work with clients to identify personal or psychological issues affecting their work and help them develop strategies for addressing those problems.
Some of the ways a coach might use this style include:
- Cultivating a holistic mindset while defining goals and solving problems, taking into account all facets of the client’s life and any potential effects on their career
- Counselling and advising the client on how to handle issues like stress, time management, and work-life balance
- Advocating for the client’s holistic health by attending to their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual needs
- Facilitating the client’s development of a personal mission statement
The holistic coaching style can be a practical approach for coaches to use when working with clients, improving both the client’s performance and well-being. By addressing any underlying personal or psychological issues, the coach can help clients achieve their goals more holistically and sustainably.
The Lassez-Faire Coach
Laissez-faire coaching, also known as the delegative style, is a hands-off approach in which the coach gives the client a high level of autonomy and freedom to make decisions. In this coaching style, the coach’s role is less directive and more facilitative, which relies on the client to take responsibility for their learning.
A coach might use the laissez-faire style with an experienced, expert client that can work independently and achieve specific goals without much assistance from the coach. It may also be used when the client is highly motivated and self-directed or when the coach feels they will be more successful if given the freedom to work in their way.
Some ways in which a coach might use the laissez-faire style include:
- Allowing the client a lot of leeway to choose their path
- Offering assistance and guidance as opposed to setting strict rules and regulations
- Getting the client excited about taking charge of their education and growth
- Giving the client everything they need to succeed rather than telling them how to do their business
While a laissez-faire coaching style can work well with motivated, experienced clients, there are better approaches. Coaches should provide enough support and guidance to their clients because they may need additional direction or assistance to succeed.
The Bureaucratic Coach
The term “bureaucratic” is often used to describe a coaching style, but its primary definition (a system of administration characterized by strict rules and procedures) doesn’t precisely fit.
That said, a bureaucratic coach might develop a rigid style if they focus on following rules rather than the needs of their clients. This style might involve the coach imposing strict guidelines on the client and expecting them to follow these protocols without question.
A coach who uses a bureaucratic style might:
- Creating rigorous guidelines for the client to follow
- Emphasizing following existing procedures over coming up with new ideas
- Keeping a strict power dynamic in which the coach is in charge, and the client is compliant
- Emphasizing conformity and order over creativity and growth
Bureaucratic coaching is only sometimes considered a practical or beneficial approach to coaching. The most successful coaches are flexible, adaptable and open to new ideas—qualities that bureaucrats tend not to possess. A coaching style that includes collaboration, sharing ideas, and a commitment to serving others will be more effective in helping clients achieve their goals.
The Mindful Coach
The mindful coaching style involves being present and aware at the moment, paying attention to one’s thoughts, feelings and actions without judgement. This coaching style focuses on the importance of mindfulness in achieving personal and professional goals, encouraging coaches and clients to bring a sense of awareness—and increased focus on how one’s actions impact others—to their work together.
The coach can use the mindful style to help clients develop greater self-awareness, focus, and clarity in their work. They might then work with the client to identify areas of stress or distraction and help them create realistic strategies for dealing with these challenges.
Some specific ways a coach might apply the mindful style include:
- Emphasizing that the client approach their work and relationships with an attitude of awareness and compassion
- Facilitating the development of the client’s capacity for self-awareness and the identification of sources of stress and distraction
- Helping the client gain more concentration and clarity through the use of techniques like meditation and mindfulness training
- Helping the client become more self-aware and mindful of their motivations, emotions, and behaviours
Mindful coaching is a valuable approach for coaches working with clients, yielding benefits like improved focus and clarity. By cultivating mindfulness and self-awareness, the coach can help clients better manage stress and distractions—and achieve their goals more sustainably.
The Developmental Coach
Developmental coaching is a form of counselling that focuses on helping clients learn and grow to achieve their goals. It’s all about one-on-one guidance and direction in which the coach helps their client develop new abilities, skills or attitudes—leading them to see possibilities they might not otherwise have seen.
Coaches might use the developmental style to help clients identify areas needing improvement and develop skills required for success. The coach might work with the client to set a series of development goals and create an action plan for achieving them, then provide needed support to help clients fulfil their potential.
Some examples of ways a coach might apply the developmental style include:
- Educating the client in determining where improvement is needed and how to achieve it
- Supporting the client along as they want to better themselves in any way
- Creating settings for training and coaching that allow for growth and development
- Motivating the client to assume responsibility for their growth and development
The developmental coaching style—focused on long-term success and employing a range of skills and capabilities—is a practical approach when working with clients. The coach’s focus on learning and development can help clients reach their full potential and build a solid foundation for future success.
The Intuitive Coach
The intuitive coaching style relies on the coach’s inner wisdom to help guide them through the process. In this style, the coach draws on their own life experiences and uses them to teach—and often challenge—their client’s thinking.
Using the intuitive style, a coach can help clients tap into their inner wisdom and make decisions aligned with their values and goals. The coach might help the client identify their core values and then guide them in making decisions that reflect those priorities.
Some of the ways that a coach might use their intuition to help others include:
- Encouraging the client’s participation in accessing their inner resources of knowledge and insight
- Aiding the client in determining what is most important to them
- Helping the client make choices and take actions that are in line with their values and aims
- Using techniques like meditation and guided imagery to strengthen the client’s innate capacity for insight and healing
A coaching style that emphasizes listening and understanding can be helpful for them to use when working with clients. A coach can help clients clarify their values and connect with the inner wisdom they need to make decisions and take authentic, meaningful, and practical actions.
The Transactional Coach
Transactional coaching is a style of guidance that focuses on helping clients identify and achieve specific, measurable goals. In this style, a coach and client work together to identify urgent areas for improvement and set clear goals that are within reach. The coach then provides ongoing guidance as the client works toward those objectives.
The transactional coaching style is often used to help clients identify and achieve specific goals. The coach might work with the client to set clear and measurable goals and provide support as they work towards achieving them.
A coach might apply the transactional style in any of several ways, including:
- Working with the client to set realistic objectives
- Providing help and direction as the client strives to realize their objectives
- Keeping tabs on the client’s development and offering suggestions as appropriate
- Celebrating the client’s progress toward their goals
While it may only be suitable for some individuals, transactional coaching can be highly effective when working with clients who have very specific goals. The coach can help the client set clear and measurable objectives, track progress towards those goals, and provide accountability.
The Transformational Coach
Transformational coaching focuses on helping clients make fundamental changes in their lives. Coaching in this style involves helping the client identify and challenge limiting beliefs and behaviours and developing new ways of thinking and acting that support their goals.
The coach might help the client identify and challenge limiting beliefs that prevent them from being successful, then teach them new ways of thinking so they can achieve their goals.
Here are some ways a coach may apply the transformational style:
- Assisting in recognizing and changing self-defeating thoughts and actions
- Creating an environment where the client is encouraged to adopt new perspectives and strategies that will help them achieve their objectives
- Inspiring the client to break out of their comfort zone and try something new to bring about significant and long-lasting change
- Supporting the client in making significant and long-lasting changes in their professional and personal lives while also providing guidance and support
By identifying and challenging limiting beliefs, behaviours, and thought processes in clients—and helping them to develop new ways of thinking about themselves—coaches can help transform businesses and lives.
The Vision Coach
Vision coaching is an approach that focuses on helping clients clarify and articulate their long-term vision and develop a plan for achieving it. The coach might work with the client to create a plan that identifies what they want, why it’s essential, and how they will get there.
A coach who uses the vision style may:
- Facilitating the establishment of the client’s business goals
- Helping to create a strategy for reaching that goal
- Encouraging the client to take steps that are in line with their values and goals
- Guiding the client along the path to realizing their ultimate goals and aspirations
Coaches can use vision style to clarify and achieve their clients’ long-term goals. A coach can help clients define their vision, develop a plan for achieving it—and then support them in aligning actions and decisions with values, goals, and long-term success.
You can use many different coaching styles, but you should be aware of the strengths and limitations of each style and use them appropriately.
For example, if you’re working with someone who’s highly analytical and goal-oriented, it may be more effective and efficient to use a coaching style focused on generating solutions. On the other hand, if you’re working with someone who has difficulty getting motivated or taking action—or enjoys talking about feelings and emotions—the results of using solution-focused coaching may be less than optimal.
In addition to understanding the different coaching styles, it’s also important to understand how they can be adapted and used in various settings. Coaching styles are often contextual, meaning that they can be adapted to fit the needs of particular clients or situations, and the ability to choose the right coaching style is one of the most important skills a coach can develop.
There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach when it comes to coaching. You’ll need to use different styles depending on your client’s personality, preferences, and goals. Everyone is different and will respond differently to different treatment approaches, and the best way to determine which system will work best for your clients is by listening to what they need and responding accordingly.
All this to say…
There’s no wrong way to become a coach—but there is a right way to become a great coach.
Some coaches start out in business with dreams of becoming a celebrity guru and never get past their first client, while other coaches evolve into better and better versions of themselves as they earn more money and attract more clients.
The most important thing for any coach is to find the kind of coaching that resonates with them the most. It doesn’t matter if you’re a democratic coach, a mindful coach, a transformational coach, or whatever kind of coach you think you are. What matters is whether you’re able to be effective at moving your clients forward towards their goals—that’s what it’s all about!