10 Coaching Styles to Explore (With Tips and FAQs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 26, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Coaching is a development process that involves guiding and training clients to reach their professional or personal goals. There are different ways to coach others, each with unique benefits and suitable in different settings. Exploring various coaching styles can help you determine which option best suits clients and supports their goals. In this article, we discuss what a coaching style is, present 10 coaching styles you can use, highlight tips for coaching effectively, and answer frequently asked questions about coaching.

What are coaching styles?

Coaching styles refer to a method of guiding others to achieve objectives at work or in their personal life. It involves using your coaching skills in a way that can positively impact learners. For example, you might apply your decision-making or negotiation skills more if your clients prefer a democratic coach. Similarly, your motivation skills might be more useful in transformational coaching. Here are various fields where you can apply coaching styles:

  • Career coaching: Career coaches help learners identify their professional goals and make informed career decisions. For example, they can help clients choose a career path, improve relevant skills and personality traits, and develop career advancement plans.

  • Life or personal coaching: Life coaches help learners clarify their priorities and personal goals and become more self-aware. They support clients in identifying effective lifestyles and explain how to make the best choices to lead fulfilling lives.

  • Business and executive coaching: Business coaches help executives and business owners clarify a company's mission and how it aligns with the learner's personal goals. They may focus on a company's structure, performance, and productivity.

  • Performance coaching: Performance coaches help employees better understand their position's requirements and the competencies necessary to fulfill them. They typically help clients resolve workplace issues and develop performance improvement plans.

  • Succession coaching: Succession coaches help companies assess potential candidates for management positions and prepare them to transition into their new roles. They typically work with managers to learn strategies and practices to help successors.

Related: What Are the Types of Career Coaching? (How to Become One)

10 coaching styles to consider

Here are 10 coaching methods you can use in professional settings:

1. Democratic coaching

Democratic coaching involves facilitating goal-setting and decision-making using inputs from clients. This style focuses on a learner and helps them become more accountable. If implemented correctly, it can foster a healthy team culture where clients and their coach make decisions together. For example, a democratic coach may make decisions to ensure processes progress as planned while learners find solutions that best suit their situation. Clients who work with coaches applying this style can feel empowered and improve their decision-making.

2. Authoritarian coaching

Authoritarian coaching involves making all the decisions for a learner. Coaches who use this style decide what learners do, how to approach situations, and when to implement each development step. Using this style, clients can work toward their target and trust their coach to make good decisions consistently.

3. Holistic coaching

Holistic coaching involves establishing a positive relationship with learners and prioritizing their growth. Coaches who use this style work toward first understanding a learner. Knowing that they can meet their coach to navigate challenges can empower learners, help them discover themselves, and build their confidence. Coaches who guide individuals or teams holistically are often positive role models. It's essential their values, morals, and priorities reflect what they want to help learners develop.

4. Vision coaching

Vision coaching is a style emphasizing future thinking. These coaches help learners develop and focus on a vision, encouraging them to work toward the desired outcome. For example, a sports coach may help athletes visualize wins, which can motivate them to work toward the team's goals. Similarly, a career coach can help candidates visualize their career in 10 years, inspiring them to commit to career development steps.

5. Delegative coaching

Delegative coaching involves enabling individuals to make decisions independently and helping them become more accountable for their actions. Delegative coaches provide few directions to clients and offer encouragement or guidance whenever requested. For example, a professional can discuss workplace issues with a performance coach, offering various solutions. This professional can improve their performance by deciding on a suitable solution.

Related: What Is Delegative Leadership and Is It Right for You?

6. Mindful coaching

Mindful coaching involves helping learners become more self-aware and encouraging reflection. With this style, coaches support individuals or teams in developing coping mechanisms, which are strategies for addressing emotions and stress. Doing this can increase their focus and help learners better visualize their goals. Mindful coaches typically show clients patterns and behaviours to improve that can help them realize their potential.

7. Bureaucratic coaching

Bureaucratic coaching focuses on guiding others by following specific regulations. It typically involves working with large teams to reach their personal or professional goals. For example, a career coach may help students choose their major, following the coaching rules defined by a school. Similarly, performance coaches can use this style when working with professionals in a construction company, where following safety guidelines is crucial.

8. Developmental coaching

Developmental coaching involves identifying opportunities for individual growth. It also emphasizes providing valuable insights and advice to a learner that can produce positive results in the future. Patience and the promise of future success can help developmental coaches succeed because this style involves offering feedback.

9. Group coaching

Group coaching involves providing guidance and direction to learners who share similar goals. It may occur online or in person. For example, a performance coach may schedule a meeting with recruits to help them settle in their new roles. Group coaches can positively affect several individuals at a time. These learners can also reach their goals quickly by connecting with others with similar interests and sharing experiences.

10. Transformational coaching

Transformational coaching focuses on helping individuals navigate life changes. This style involves helping learners understand how their emotions can affect their behaviour. For example, a client may want to work on their self-image or learn how to reach their full potential. In this case, a transformational coach can empower them with the confidence and guidance they need.

Related: How To Become a Career Coach (With Steps and Types)

Tips for effective coaching

An effective coach is humble, patient, respected, and coachable. Regardless of your preferred style, here are helpful practices that can help you become better at coaching others:

  • Be positive: Maintaining a positive approach can show clients that you want to help them succeed.

  • Listen and offer support: As a coach, it's crucial you listen to clients to identify the type of guidance they require.

  • Collaborate on solutions: You can work with clients to identify issues or challenges before they become urgent. It's also essential you help them create an action plan outlining what to do.

  • Follow up: Coaching typically continues after guiding a client to ensure they implement the necessary solutions. Follow-up sessions can also help you evaluate whether your style suits the client.

  • Engage in continuing learning: Pursuing further coaching education and gaining more knowledge about your preferred style can help you become more effective. For example, attending workshops can help you identify coaching tools to meet clients' needs.

Related: How to Create and Maintain a Positive Working Environment

FAQs about coaching styles

You can review the following questions and helpful answers to frequently asked questions to improve your ability to coach others:

Is coaching the same as counselling?

While coaching and counselling are similar processes, you can differentiate them by examining when they're necessary. Coaching is an ongoing developmental process that can help individuals reach their goals. Counselling is a developmental process suitable when an individual experiences challenges. While counselling involves examining experiences and resolving issues in the past, coaching focuses on the individual's current situation and future.

Evaluating coaching and counselling techniques can also help you distinguish them. While counsellors are typically subject experts, coaches are process experts. This means counsellors often have extensive knowledge of and training in client issues. In comparison, coaches typically know how to create learning environments for clients and use standard processes and styles.

How do you ask thoughtful questions?

Here's the process of asking thoughtful questions during coaching sessions:

  • Make observations: You can explain what you noticed while remaining objective.

  • Discuss your thoughts: You can share why you want to focus on a specific behaviour or action and explain its importance.

  • Ask your question: Consider allowing the individual to reflect on the situation while displaying genuine interest in their answer.

Related: 7 Analysis Questions to Ask (With Example Answers)

Is coaching a good career option?

You can consider coaching if you want to advise and direct others. For example, if you're passionate about sports, you can coach a junior team in your community. Noticing positive changes in individuals you work with can make coaching a fulfilling career path.

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