Seven Qualities of an Effective Coach

by Scott Jeffrey

Overview: No matter what field, an effective coach has these seven qualities that facilitate learning and development in the coachee.


What is a Coach?

The term coach is used so flippantly in today’s marketplace that it seems to have little intrinsic meaning as “consultant.”

Coach comes from the Middle English word coche, which literally means “a wagon or carriage.”

This meaning is still used today in the phrase “traveling coach.”

A coach carries or transports a person or group of people from a starting point to the desired location.

Three Powerful Steps to Coaching

Coaching is an important responsibility. It can also be a powerful style of leadership.

Compared to a mentor, a coach has greater accountability and provides more active, hands-on guidance along an individual’s journey.

Let’s review the three basic roles of an effective coach:

1) Take Inventory: Identify where the individual is now.

An effective coach lives by the dictum “Know thyself.” If you don’t know where you are, you can’t plot your course to any destination.

What is your coachee’s current condition? What are their strengths? (Know your weaknesses, but play to your strengths.)

What internal resources does the individual have available?

2) Set Objectives: Determine where you want to go.

Obvious, isn’t it? Yet frequently, this vital step is often overlooked.

An effective coach spends a disproportionate amount of time clearly defining the end picture. “Begin with the end in mind,” as Stephen Covey said in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

A clear vision is paramount to effective leadership in any endeavor.

3) Develop Strategy: Plot the optimal course to your end picture.

The effective coach then helps guide a pathway to success by helping the individual identify the key results and strategic actions that must take place in order to realize the ultimate vision determined in step 2.

Seven Characteristics of an Effective Coach

Now that we’ve explored the three powerful steps to coaching, let’s review the qualities of an effective coach.

1) Masterful at Asking Question 

The key is to know the right question to ask at the right time. This takes practice, experience, patience, and self-awareness.

Always strive to ask more thoughtful questions to your team members, associates, and clients.

2) Sensibly Direct

A coach doesn’t play “office politics”, crafting his words to elicit a particular response from his team or clients.

Instead, an aware coach offers direct feedback at the right moment. The coach is sensible, however, and uses discretion as needed.

3) Sensory Acuity and Awareness

An effective coach is aware of his environment and those around him.

He watches body language, tonality and other nonverbal forms of communication to understand what others are saying.

4) Masterful Listener

An effective coach is highly empathic and intuitively connected to his clients and team members.

He listens intently—especially to what’s not being said.

5) Resourceful

Knowing a business-as-usual attitude is an easy way to stifle creativity, an effective coach is constantly looking for ways to elevate those he or she interacts with.

6) Challenging

There’s always room for growth and an effective coach is committed to supporting an individual’s psychological development.

Instilling certainty of purpose, the coach provides meaningful direction.

7) High Integrity

Honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity are the cornerstones of a coach’s state of being.

Only after individuals trust and respect their coach (or leader) will real progress begin to unfold.

If you want to be an effective coach who brings your clients or teams to great achievements, examine these seven qualities carefully.

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