We've all had clients who’ve come to a session with no idea of what to expect. We're not exactly teachers, mentors, or therapists. However, like these professionals, we’re guides that help empower our clients in their decision-making as they take on new endeavors, like improving new skills or finding a different career.
The key to our client's success is already in them, and it’s our job to help them realize this by encouraging them to use their problem-solving skills to overcome obstacles. And just as there's not one kind of client, there’s no one style of life coaching. A good coach may spend their career perfecting their coaching method. A great coach may adopt many approaches in collaboration with their clients. We’ll discuss some tested types of coaching styles to guide our practices.
5 different coaching styles to ensure client success
Tools for coaching aren’t simply mixed and matched. You must adapt the tool to the situation – for example, a skills development coach can’t simply use self-awareness tools and expect them to work in any situation. Our coaching methods have to reflect our clients’ needs; the method must match the goal. There are many approaches and infinite ways to combine coaching styles and methods, but what are some of the styles any coach can use as a foundation? Here’s a list of coaching processes to add to our toolkit and build on throughout our careers:
1. Holistic coaching
The holistic approach considers how interconnected factors affect life as a whole. This coaching method addresses multiple areas in a client's life, like physical fitness, work-life balance, and relationships, and seeks to balance them. This coaching style aims to improve a client's health, disposition, outlook, and sense of place.
2. Mindful coaching
This is a prevalent coaching style in the workplace. Mindful coaching takes a spiritual approach to improve how professional clients engage with others while aiding their overall well-being. By teaching clients about self-awareness and empathy, they improve their relationships with team members and customers and better negotiate stress at work and home. Mindful coaching is beneficial for those experiencing anxiety and depression.
3. Group coaching
Clients may opt to receive coaching with a group of coachees rather than one-on-one coaching. Although this isn’t laissez-faire coaching, it benefits many clients and helps them work through their issues as a group. Coaches are as hands-on or hands-off as necessary during these sessions. For clients for whom the price of coaching is a barrier, group sessions are a great way to gain coaching's benefits without breaking the bank.
4. Autocratic coaching
Many of us will recognize this coaching style in education, especially sports coaching. Autocratic coaching is a developmental coaching approach perfect for clients seeking direct instruction. As opposed to the democratic coaching style, which encourages clients to come to conclusions independently, an autocratic coach has complete control during sessions. It's highly structured and intensive. This coaching style is perfect for teaching techniques necessary for achieving short-term goals and instilling discipline.
5. Solution-focused coaching
With the future in mind, this coaching style prioritizes goal-setting and achievement. Coaches direct clients to self-assess what they want to achieve and what it’ll take to reach their goals. This style incorporates elements of vision coaching, which has the client imagine the future they want to see. It can work as a coaching style of leadership for managers and entrepreneurs seeking to level up their team's performance.
Coaching vs. mentoring vs. counseling: Know the difference
Though many of the coaching styles mentioned incorporate elements similar to mentoring and counseling, it's important to remember they’re distinct professions. A client shouldn't pursue our services for assistance with trauma, just as they shouldn't expect a counselor to remind them to update their LinkedIn.
Knowing the difference between these three paths helps calibrate clients’ expectations so sessions can focus on the coaching relationship and achieving goals. Here's a handy guide to explain what makes us different:
- Mentors: Experts at helping mentees learn the skills necessary to achieve future-oriented goals in their careers
- Counselors: Many barriers to a client's success are rooted in past traumas; counselors work with their patients to overcome their past and become more self-aware
- Coaches: We're here to help clients improve their skills, not by being experts in their field but by guiding them to examine how they approach and address issues
The spectrum of coaching: Where do we lie?
When clients engage coaches, they're not just looking for a straightforward solution to their problem. The relationship between coaches and clients creates a framework aiding clients in achieving their goals. The coaching models we use run along a coach-led to client-led spectrum:
- Coach-led: A client may approach us because they respond well to disciplined leadership styles. With an autocratic coaching style, we can use our experience to direct them to reach desired outcomes.
- Client-led: If a client is after performance coaching to aid in their particular goals, we could adopt a democratic coaching approach. Offer coaching assessments to help clients measure their progress.
Coaches and clients’ preferences land on either side of this spectrum, which is why some pairings fit better than others; it's important to remember that this is a spectrum. Every coaching style ultimately is a hybrid of these two poles. Being flexible and taking lessons from the insights afforded by both models help us navigate our clients’ goals as they change through life.
Try Practice for any coaching style
As we develop our coaching approach, it's important to remember whether we use a solution-focused or holistic coaching style. How well we manage client relationships ultimately determines whether we're successful coaches. Tools that aid scheduling, communication, and assessments are essential for coaching styles.
Practice is a customer relationship management platform that connects coaches to clients, provides CRM diagnostic services, and ensures reliable, automated payment with unlimited clients. Its safe end-to-end encryption gives coaches and clients the confidence to begin their relationship. Try Practice today.