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The skills of coaching


Disciplines > Coaching > Articles > The skills of coaching

Basics | Life coaching | Executive coaching | See also


To be a successful coach, you need to be able to help others become the person they could be.



To be a coach, you need to connect with other people, to feel what they are feeling and connect at a personal level.

If you are introverted and are happier with your own company, then coaching is probably not for you. People who are largely self-absorbed also do not make great coaches. Coaching has a lot to do with forgetting about yourself as you focus strongly on the other person.


Whilst connecting with others, you also need to be able to stand back and look critically at them, seeing their inner issues and the way forward for them.


As a coach, you may become the butt of emotional outbursts. You may also be on the receiving end of an endless stream of negativity. To survive this, you need to be positive and have emotional resilience that helps stop you being dragged down.


As a coach, you may be told deep and dark secrets. To keep these you need a strong personal integrity such that you will not even tell your life partner about these.

Integrity also means knowing your limitations and limiting the depth to which you work. If you are not a trained therapist, do not try to do therapy. If people bring out the 'bad stuff', back off and explain the limits of what you cover (in fact you should explain this up-front).

Running your business

Coaching is a business. You need to sell yourself, schedule your time, invoice clients, pay taxes and so on. This need not be complex for a business of one person, but it still takes a surprisingly amount of work.

Life coaching

Life coaching is generally targeted at the everyday 'person in the street'. It is for people who are having difficulty with their lives and need someone to talk with.

Listening skills

Sometimes all your client wants is someone to talk with. The first need of a coach is to be a good listener.

Questioning skills

Coaching also needs skills to ask the right questions, drawing out the deeper troubles and getting the person to think about their problems and potential solutions.

Executive coaching

Executive coaching is usually far more highly paid than life coaching. You are dealing with highly-paid and impatient executives who want rapid results. As a result, you need to be more business-like and more expert.

Understanding business

Beyond the person, you need to have a very good grasp of businesses, how they run and the pressures of leadership. You need to be comfortable talking about manufacturing, marketing, employee performance and more.

Executives talk in a lot of business jargon, and, other than very specialized words, you need to understand and be able to hold deep conversations around the topic.

Deeper psychological understanding

Whilst many people can become life coaches, executive coaches need a deep understanding of psychology and therapeutic methods, and may well be qualified in these fields.

An executive coach may start with their client by applying a battery of psychometric tests, in which they need to be trained. They may face executive tantrums from people used to being obeyed.

See also


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