What makes a good coach?

goodcoach

15th January 2020

Author: Nick Bolton

That you’re reading this article and asking yourself what makes a good coach suggests that you already have perhaps the most important quality when starting your coaching journey — the desire and drive to be the best coach you can be.

Of course, desire alone won’t make you an excellent coach — so what else do you need to excel in this profession? Read on to find out the most advantageous qualities of a coach, both innate and learned. This guide will also help you figure out whether the coaching profession is a good fit for you and provide top tips about what you have to do to take your coaching practice to the next level.

How Can I Become a Good Coach?

Being a good coach is both an art and a skill. For many people, it may appear to be effortless, but in reality, there is nothing effortless about it. Drawing off our many years of experience in the industry, at Animas we feel that what makes a “great coach” isn’t just personal qualities but also a combination of consistent practice, high-quality life coach training and self-reflection.

One important factor that makes a good coach is when the act of coaching is about more than just one goal. Rather than seeing coaching as a means to get someone from A to B, the best coaches are more insightful, elevating the coaching experience to something far greater. Instead of a simple, goal-orientated approach, a great coach will use methods that are transformative. This helps them open clients up to change, allowing future goals to be achieved more easily and identified more accurately in line with their core beliefs, talents and values.

A great coach also helps the client see that the journey of change is just as profound as the goal or outcome itself. We believe a coach who can do this time and again with different clients — all of whom are unique with different personalities and traits — is what makes a great coach. Budding coaches may not be able to achieve this right away, but with the correct training and tools behind them, this is something that can be learned.

Is It Enough to Become a Good Coach in Such a Competitive Industry?

The number of coaches globally continues to grow year on year, with the estimated global revenue from coaching having reached $2.849 billion USD in 2019. Impressive, but what does this mean?

That the industry continues to boom recognises the profound impact that coaching can have on individuals and the world. Still, for those of you that are considering becoming a coach, it may be a daunting prospect that your pool of potential competition continues to grow. Becoming a good coach — or a great coach — is essential to succeed in the coaching industry, but what will continue to set you apart is your own unique perspective and set of experiences, which will help you provide tailored services to your clients.

The Innate Qualities of a Great Coach

There are certainly some qualities that all great coaches have. Skills can be learned, but your underlying qualities bring you to coaching in the first place and will support you in your journey. As a budding coach bound for success, you’ll likely be:

Interested in People and Care about Making a Difference

This is one of the fundamental traits at the heart of every great coach. Coaching is all about helping and empowering others to make profound changes in their lives. A great coach will have an innate interest in people and the care, compassion and desire to make a difference to their clients’ lives.

Curious about the Different Ways People See the World

Are you naturally curious? Curiosity is key to the coaching environment and to being a great coach.

How do we ask the questions that allow our clients to discover the next step or find their own answers without being innately curious? As coaches, we should all be curious about how we can help open up our coachees’ understanding of their own world and the possibilities that are out there for them. What is it they want? Where do they want to get to? How might they get there?

Able to Listen and Really Hear What Someone Is Telling You

A big part of being a coach is listening well. Unfortunately, fewer people than you might think understand the art of good listening or what it means.
While silence, eye contact and open body language are all important elements of a good listener, truly listening is much more than being quiet while the other person talks. The best listeners are those that reflect back and ask questions with the express aim of encouraging self-discovery. Asking a good question or reflecting something back lets the person know not only that you have heard what was said but that you can take that information and process it in a genuinely useful way.

Remember, people want more than to be listened to — they want to be heard!

The Animas coaching course helps you become proficient in the art of deep listening, but even before this, if you’re someone that is truly able to hear what others are telling you and are often turned to for your ability to listen, you possess one of the key qualities of a coach.

Reflective of Your Own Worldview, Including Your Values, Beliefs, Assumptions, and Emotional Triggers

You can’t be a great coach without reflecting on your own worldview. A willingness to reflect to better understand your own beliefs, values and assumptions — as well as an understanding of what things might trigger you emotionally in a coaching dynamic — are key to being the best coach that you can be.

Reflection will play a key part in your coaching journey, as it is through self-reflection that we can improve and grow — but if you’re intrinsically prone to self-reflection before seeking out training, you’re already off to a great start.

Someone Who Is Positive and Believes That Change in People Is Possible

One of the responsibilities of a life coach is to inspire clients with positive energy. Often, bringing an authentic positivity of your own to the space can be a catalyst for your client’s own positive inspiration. If you are happy, healthy and vibrant, you can help evoke this state in your coachee too.
A great coach will be naturally positive, with a strongly-held belief that every individual has the potential to change.

Able to Notice Patterns and Understand How People’s Behaviour Creates Their Outcomes

This may sound complicated, but we’re not asking for you to have Sherlock-Holmes-level powers of deduction. We mean that if you have good observational skills, attention to detail and an ability to pick up on the patterns and behaviours that influence the outcomes of those around you, then you possess some of the most useful qualities of a coach.

Qualities of a Coach That Can Be Learned through Professional Training

Having the natural qualities of a coach is an excellent starting point, but even the best coaches didn’t start out with all the skills and aptitudes required to be great. Some coaching skills, techniques and philosophies must be learned.

Whilst it’s perfectly possible to set up as a life coach without any kind of certification and pick up techniques through dedicated self-study, there are several reasons why professional coach training can give you a significant advantage when you get out there to coach — whether on a full-time or part-time basis. If you ask established coaches what they think makes a good coach, many are likely to tell you that it’s someone who has committed themselves to a thorough training program.

So, what can the right training give you that helps you strive towards coaching greatness?

A Solid and Applicable Understanding of Coaching Philosophies

A solid grounding in coaching skills and knowledge allows you to be more flexible, adaptable and versatile to whatever challenges arise with a wide variety of clients. Many students say that training has provided them with a massive confidence boost, as they know that whatever comes up, they have the knowledge and tools to really help their clients. They feel ready, able, willing, and perhaps most importantly, adaptable!

High-quality coach training also enables you to learn how best to use the skills and talents you already have. Some of us naturally possess the traits of an effective coach, but the key is understanding how best to apply these strengths, and good quality life coach training can help you do that.

Real Life Experience with Clients

Coaching is something you do, not just something you know. As much as theoretical knowledge is helpful, the best coaching courses also include practical elements and allow you to practise with real clients.

The Ability to Embed Coaching Skills over Time

Coaching is a skill that develops with time. We believe any coaching course that sets out to help you become a genuinely skilled coach should take place over an extended period of time, with various steps that develop your skills and facilitate reflective learning. At Animas, our own life coaching course is formatted in this way, as we don’t believe you can adequately develop coaching skills in a matter of a few days with no practical experience. To become a great coach, be sure that your chosen course takes you on a true journey of learning.

Accreditation and Credentialing That Sets You Apart

As mentioned earlier, the coaching industry is growing, which means many other coaches are also searching for clients. Professional training is one thing, but by undertaking accredited coach training, you set yourself apart from the majority. When choosing a course, you’ll want to look out for an accreditation from at least one of the following bodies: International Coach Federation (ICF), Association for Coaching (AC), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) or the Chartered Institute for Professional Development (CIPD).

With the accreditation of coaching courses becoming ever more important as a sign of quality and credibility, you should ensure for your own peace of mind and for your future clients that you are enrolling on an accredited course that will grant you professional coaching credentials.

Observation and Supervision That Allows You to Grow

Any professional coach training that offers ongoing supervision both during and post-qualification means you’ll be in a great position to grow as a coach. Having an experienced mentor to help you shine a spotlight on your key areas of development could be invaluable in helping you become a great coach. Our course includes mentoring, supervision and observed practice — all features we feel contribute enormously to the quality of coaching our students and graduates provide.

Competence and Confidence Gained through Rigorous Qualification and Assessment

A high-quality coaching course will thoroughly assess your coaching skills as you learn, ensuring that you are a competent and confident coach before you’re able to graduate. A coaching course with a rigorous qualification process will set you apart from coaches that haven’t completed such assessments, as well as make you feel confident that you have what it takes to go out there and coach.

A Thriving Community of Fellow Coaches

At Animas, we are immensely proud of the thriving community of coaches we’ve created, and this is one of the things that we always hear when people talk about the school. Not only does this sense of belonging feel great, but it also presents you with opportunities to share in the coaching successes, questions, conversations, thoughts and collaborations of a community of like-minded coaches, which can be instrumental to your coaching development.

How to Be a Good Coach Once You Qualify

We’ve looked at the innate qualities of a coach and the skills that can be learned through training, but what about once you qualify? The coaching journey never ends, which is why the best coaches are those who constantly grow and change as they build their experience and skill set.

To be a great coach, you must always be looking to develop yourself, even if you’ve been in the profession for a long time. Here are some ways to ensure you remain consistent and stay at the top of your game:

Further Training and CPD Courses

The best coaches take a life-long learning approach by embracing additional learning, skills and opportunities to work with like-minded practitioners. These might include lectures, seminars, courses, mentoring and peer support groups led by industry thought-leaders, authors and teachers.

Putting some time and money into Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses can be instrumental to your progress as a coach. Remember, being a consistently great coach requires dedication and a desire to improve continually.

Practice, Practice, Practice

This seems like common sense, but it really is one of the key driving forces behind an excellent coach. The apparent effortlessness that people see in other coaches comes from continued practice and confidence that increases over time. To achieve this for yourself, you’ll need to spend time practising your art and continuously putting in the effort.

Seek Out Feedback

The benefits that come from actively seeking feedback on your coaching are immeasurable. No matter how experienced you are or how long you’ve been coaching, sitting on the other side of the table and reflecting on what isn’t working or how you can improve will allow you to continue growing. All of the best coaches will regularly attend supervision or mentoring sessions, which is a big part of why they are the best.

We hope this guide to what makes a good coach has been helpful. If you can see some of these qualities in yourself and are curious about making coaching a career, one of our free introductory days will be invaluable to you. Book a spot at our next virtual event to get all your questions answered by our experienced coaches and figure out whether life coaching is right for you.

Author Details

Nick Bolton

Nick is the founder and CEO of the Animas and International Centre for Coaching Supervision. Along with his love of coaching and supervision, he is a a passionate learner with a fascination for philosophy, psychology and sociology.

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