- Coaching styles
Coaching is a broad profession involving a huge variety of techniques and styles. Coaching 'techniques' are the practices used by coaches during sessions - these include NLP, linguistic models, writing exercises and interview techniques. The term 'coaching styles', however, refers to the overall direction of each session.
What does the client want? To become more empathetic? To develop a greater sense of self-awareness? To do better at work? To become fitter/stronger? The life coach will determine what kind of coaching style to use depending on what outcomes the client hopes to achieve, and how they wish to get there. On this page we will look at some common coaching approaches. We'll discuss what they involve and what areas/industries they are best suited to.
On this page
Autocratic coaching is a style of coaching that takes a 'telling' approach rather than an 'asking' approach. This coaching style tends to be used in situations where a client needs to learn a specific technique to further their development. Instead of handing the reins to the client, the coach will take full control of the session by explaining exactly what it is that needs to be done and encouraging the client to follow their lead. This coaching style is most commonly adopted in sports, military and business situations as opposed to general life situations, which usually require a softer coaching approach. Autocratic coaching encourages:
> good discipline
> respect for authority
> high levels of organisation.
Autocratic coaching is useful for clients who require structure or need to learn a technique quickly. It can be used in staff coaching, particularly in highly demanding environments such as restaurants, sales and the military. This coaching approach may also be used within sports coaching to push the client further in their training. Depending on the circumstances, youth coaches may also integrate an autocratic style.
Democratic coaching invites the client to participate in the coaching process by encouraging them to adopt a 'self-coaching' attitude. The coach's role in the democratic approach is to outline the overall objectives but allow the client to suggest how he or she might reach them. Although a democratic coach might make the final decisions, he or she will base these decisions on the client's own opinions and feelings. The democratic coaching style encourages:
> a sense of accountability
> a sense of self-control
> a sense of freedom
> good decision-making skills that can be applied to everyday life.
There are several areas that democratic coaching can be useful for. Career coaching for example often benefits from this approach as it encourages the client to take control of their career path. Finance coaching is another examples as it prompts the client to have a sense of accountability. Coaches working on personal development may also use the democratic coaching style to help clients develop decision-making skills.
Holistic coaching looks at the client as a whole. This approach rests on the basis that to address one issue, all issues surrounding it or connected to it in any way must also be addressed. This is because, according to holistic coaching theory, everything rests in a web of interconnectedness, i.e. everything has a cause and everything has an effect. When we change one aspect of our lives, all others invariably shift too. Life coaches specialising in the holistic coaching style often look at their clients' whole lives - from their physical fitness, to the state of their social lives in order to help them achieve a peaceful equilibrium. The holistic coaching style encourages:
> better understanding of how our actions affect the world
> greater sense of purpose
> a healthier body
> a calmer disposition
> greater satisfaction from the small things in life.
This approach is especially beneficial when addressing work/life balance. This is because it looks at all elements of the client's life, helping them find ways to maintain balance. Holistic coaching is often used when addressing health and stress too. As well as investigating physical changes the client can make to improve health, a holistic coach will also look at lifestyle factors, relationships and stress levels to see how these may be affecting their health.
The '3D coaching model' is based on the idea that coaches should focus on the 3 'Ds'. These are:
'Debugging' is a technique life coaches use to ensure there is nothing standing in the way of future development e.g. lack of trust between coach and client.
'Direction' is the process of setting and agreeing to certain objectives.
'Development' is the learning process undertaken by coach and client together as they work towards these objectives.
Vision coaching is a coaching style with an emphasis on future-thinking. It rests on the basis that the power of thought can be harnessed to shape the future. According to vision coaching theory, the more we focus our minds on a vision of an outcome we desire, the more likely it is that that outcome will occur. Vision coaching is used by sports coaches to help athletes visualise the process of winning - e.g. urging them to picture themselves crossing the finish line and receiving their gold medal or trophy on the podium. The idea is that the process of visualisation prepares the body for the task it is about to undertake, erasing feelings of self-doubt that might otherwise hinder progress by carving a path towards the desired outcome.
This approach is ideal when there is a specific goal or outcome to achieve. Sports coaching often uses visualisation techniques and many athletes say they practise the technique before competing. Vision coaching can also work well when working with confidence and public speaking.
Solution-focused coaching is concerned with what a client wants to achieve in the end. A solution focused coach will question a client about this goal in order to clarify his or her vision. What is it they really want? How are they going to get there? What happens once they do get there? Solution-focused coaching encourages:
> clear goal setting
> a richer understanding of one's own unique path in life.
Setting clear goals and focusing on solutions can be very useful in business coaching, especially for entrepreneurs. It can also work well for clients trying to develop themselves personally as it encourages self-evaluation.
'Zen' simply translates as 'meditation'. It is an ancient Buddhist practice that involves easing the mind into a deeply relaxed state that increases awareness of the self and opens the mind up to a more advanced form of thought and understanding. Zen coaching utilises the power of meditation to help clients improve essential qualities, including:
> peace of mind
This approach can be used for clients seeking relationship coaching. Whether they are in a relationship or not, clients can develop a greater sense of compassion, understanding and empathy - essential qualities for healthy relationships. Meditation is well known for reducing stress, so Zen coaching can be helpful for clients looking to lower stress and anxiety levels. As the approach has a spiritual element to it, it can also be used with clients looking to explore their spirituality.
An increasing number of businesses are hiring mindfulness coaches to help employees develop calmer, more enlightened approaches to business. 'Mindfulness' refers to a heightened state of awareness - both of the self and of the world surrounding the self. According to mindfulness coaching theory, this helps clients:
> develop better workplace relations
> reduce workplace tensions
> improve reactions to stressful situations
> empathise with others
> increase concentration and attention span
> achieve a healthier work/life balance.
As mindfulness is now being used to treat stress and depression, this coaching approach can be especially useful for clients suffering from anxiety and depressive conditions. Those with ADHD may also benefit from mindfulness coaching as it helps to improve focus and clarity.