There’s a set of coaching skills that every good coach possesses. What makes a good coach? What are the qualities? There are a number of essential coaching skills you need to become a great coach.
In general, a coach supports her client in achieving specific goals or solutions, change processes and personal development. But what distinguishes an average coach from a great coach?
Some skills such as empathy, curiosity and intuiting are natural abilities or will increase with your experience and practice as a coach others can be learnt.
12 Essential Coaching Skills that make you a great coach
The First Basic Coaching Skill – Goal Setting
The first important coaching skill to possess is the ability to elicit clear, achievable, well-defined and motivating goals from your clients. The right goals and milestones guide the actions and focus the clients’ energies on a clear objective.
To help the client to explore and evaluate their goals some proven goal setting techniques like SMART are a good choice.
This means the goal should always be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Another important skill of a great coach is to be able to reframe problems as solutions. So whenever your clients tell you about a problem, ask what needs to happen to solve this problem.
Another Key Coaching Skill – Active Listening
A great coaching skill is to actively listen to the client, gathering information and afterward filtering and clarifying it for the client. An active listener is neutral, non-judgemental and engaged.
So try to be as objective as possible, give each client your full attention and show genuine interest. Active listening contains:
Repeating: By repeating meaningful words or sentences you show your clients that you really understand what’s important to them and that you truly understand them.
Is rendering the message using similar words has the same effect as repeating.
Summarize the main message of your client in your own words (use short sentences). This makes sure you understand your client’s message and helps to keep the focus on what’s important.
You can also actively listen to your clients between the sessions. Use a software tool like CleverMemo where they can share their thoughts and experiences and give them the feeling there’s always someone listening to them.
Looking and Observing:
Besides actively listening to the words of your client you shouldn’t forget to read the gestures, take in the emotions and thoughts and read between the lines.
Does the client get really angry while she is telling you about her colleague or sad while talking about her partner? Is she excited or anxious while she is talking about that job interview?
A good coaching relationship: Build rapport and show empathy
Another very important coaching skill is to show your client that you truly understand her. By actively listening and observing empathy develops naturally.
It’s about connecting with your client without judging and being self-focused. Empathy builds trust and is an important element of a great coaching relationship.
Don’t just follow a framework of a coaching process. Every client and process is individual and so is the need for support. Try to find out what could help your client to achieve her goal faster or to find a sustainable solution for her problem.
What makes a good coach? – Curiosity:
The difference between knowing (or assumptions) and discovering is curiosity. Another basic skill good coaches possess. Try not to judge and to stay as objective as possible while you find out what truly matters to your client.
Show a genuine interest in her goals or problems and stay in the moment instead of being focused on the next question or technique on your agenda.
A valuable skill is to keep interruptions to a minimum but at the same time keeping the conversation focused and on-target.
Provide a Structure (Guideline) throughout the process
A coach supports her clients in achieving a specific goal or to find solutions to a situation they are in. Usually, this is not a one-time event but a process that takes time. The session is used to find new solutions, inspiration, impulses and to think about the action steps our client has to take before they achieve their goals.
The real work starts after the session where our client has to implement the learnings from a session into her daily life. In theory, this is often easy, but there will always be (unforeseeable) hurdles, roadblocks, reactions, distractions or unhelpful patterns which make taking these steps harder than it seems.
As a great coach, you know about this fact and prepare your clients for it. Don’t leave your clients alone after the session and provide a guideline or framework throughout the coaching.
Every client and every process is individual and so should be the level of support you provide. Regular check-ins, worksheets, a journal or questionnaires are great tools to keep the process going between sessions and to make sure our clients stay on track.
CleverMemo is a great software tool that helps you to provide this individual support to each client and to save time with your daily tasks like session prep.
Effective Coaching Skills – Give Feedback:
Giving Feedback the right way is another essential coaching skill. Feedback should never be arrogant or used as a vehicle to show your client „you know better“ or you’re the expert. It should be clear, relevant, constructive, solution-focused, positive and motivating.
The goal is not to make the client feel bad about what she’s doing but more to help her find solutions and new ways to improve and do better. Providing feedback the right way is a great vehicle to build trust with a client.
Assign your clients a short questionnaire after each session where they can share their key insights of each session and provide feedback on what was the most valuable in this session.
Encourage them to write a success journal to share their thoughts and experiences right at the moment when they occur and emotions are fresh.
Use regular check-ins to see how things are going and if further support is needed. We have several ready-to-use tools and templates integrated into CleverMemo. You can assign them to your clients’ coaching stream with just a few clicks and get invaluable feedback.
Key Coaching Skill: Ask (the right) questions at the right time
Asking powerful questions is one of the most important coaching skills. The right questions help your clients to get clear on their goals, as well as to find answers and solutions to their problems.
Knowing the right types of questions and ask them at the right time is the key to a successful coaching process. This article with 6 different types of questions and over 70 example coaching questions will let you dig deeper.
Interesting resources to enhance your coaching skills:
- 57 Great Couple Therapy Questions For Your Next Session
- 67 Deep & Thought-Provoking Questions for Coaches (and Self-Reflection)
Good Coaching Skill #10: Constantly Evaluate
Coaching Evaluation is a systematic way to determine the outcome and merit of effective coaching. Coaching is a dynamic and individual process.
Our clients’ plans and goals are never static because development and change are never linear. Goals will and should change and evolve during a coaching relationship.
To manage the upcoming deviations it’s important to monitor and evaluate the ongoing process continuously.
This helps to easily determine whether adaptive action and additional guidance are required. How to implement this effective coaching skill in two steps is described in this article.
The right use of Methods, Coaching Techniques and Tools
To know when and how to use the right coaching technique is one of the key coaching skills.
Coaching techniques and tools, if used the right way, can change the direction of client’s lives and help them achieve continuous growth, prosperity, and sustainable success.
Effective coaching goes beyond the ability to ask the right questions in the right order.
Great coaches are experts in guiding their clients through the process of change. They enhance and enable their clients to reach their full potential, overcome roadblocks and help them to accomplish sustainable success. Find 14 effective coaching techniques here.
Helping clients to reflect – an often overlooked coaching skill
Reflection is another coaching skill that is easy to learn but often overlooked. It involves paraphrasing or summarizing what the client has said, allowing them to hear their own thoughts and gain new insights. By using reflection, you can deepen understanding, encourage self-reflection, and facilitate meaningful conversations that lead to personal growth and development.
Coaching Skill #12: Regular Check-ins
This is more a habit instead of a coaching skill, but it ensures that you always provide high quality and powerful coaching to each of your clients.
Let your clients complete a short questionnaire before and after each coaching session. This helps both you and your clients to recognize their progress and success since the last session and ensures the understanding of each other.
It’s also a perfect way to check if the client is happy with the coaching or if there’s something she wishes to be different in the next session.
Use tools to check in whether the client has taken and to find out if there were roadblocks and what they’ve been struggling with. It shows you what bothers them most at the moment and what they want to focus on during their next session.
At the same time, you’ll find out what has been working and what hasn’t so you can adjust your coaching to your clients’ needs.
Regularly check whether milestones and goals have been reached. It sounds pretty obvious but sometimes we don’t realize our progress until we take a step back to see what has already been done and achieved.
This provides motivation to take the next steps and keep going.