The Characteristics of an Effective and Competent Coach

  • Kevin William Grant

A coach is not a consultant. They will not do the work for you. They are there to keep you focused on the end result and remind you why achieving your goals is essential. Coaches motivate you to keep your commitments and act as a sounding board and, when needed, hold a mirror in front of you, highlighting your personal blind spots.

Actions of a Competent Coach

  1. A good coach is self-aware.
  2. A good coach follows up on issues promptly.
  3. A good coach brings specific and well-defined issues to your attention.
  4. A good coach prepares for each session with information, examples, ideas, and is ready for discussion. 
  5. A good coach treats individuals as partners, encouraging input, and trusting their clients to carry out their homework assignments.
  6. A good coach knows the strengths and weaknesses of his or her clients.
  7. A good coach makes expectations clear at the beginning of the coaching session.
  8. A good coach allows enough time to discuss issues and concerns adequately.
  9. A good coach seeks ideas and makes those ideas part of the solution.
  10. A good coach listens and tries to understand the client's points of view.
  11. A good coach expresses encouragement and optimism when both easy and challenging issues are discussed.
  12. A good coach directly asks for a commitment to solutions that have been agreed upon.
  13. A good coach provides the resources, authority, training, and support necessary for their clients to carry out their solutions.
  14. A good coach offers support and assistance to their clients so they can implement change and achieve their goals.
  15. When solutions do not turn out as expected, a good coach proactively helps their clients define alternatives.

Indiciators of a Competent Coach

These are some critical questions you can ask yourself to evaluate your coaching relationship overall.

Do they understand what coaching is? 

  • Watch out for consultants in disguise and amateur therapists. Find out if they really understand what coaching is and the difference between coaching and other helping professions. A good coach will start the coaching process by reviewing this topic.

Do they meet you where you are? 

  • Are they comfortable being with what’s real at the moment? Whether that’s to celebrate a success or truly be there with you when something goes wrong?

Do they know where they are?

  • Do they have a proven map that they use to ask the right questions at the right time?
  • Don’t assume because they have “coach” on their website or business card that they have a real plan or any practical training.

Do they have the strength, to be honest?

  • Your coach should be willing to fire you if you don’t honor your commitment to yourself to show up, do the work, and make changes.

Do they make you more curious?

  • Their way of thinking about things should be infectious, you should find yourself asking other people the kinds of questions they ask you.

Do they hide behind jargon, lists, or gimmicks?

  • It should never be complicated to translate the work you do with your coach into your daily life.

Can they maintain a longterm vision while they help you fix today’s problems?

  • Do they notice patterns and trends, or are they just reacting to today’s frustrations? You want wise counsel, not quick fixes.

Do they track your goals?

  • Coaches track goals by creating key performance metrics (KPIs) that makes the journey to reaching them very transparent.
  • The coach is there to keep track and measure progress that someone might avoid tracking if they are on their own. 

Does your coach co-create?

  • A competent coach creates a partnership with their clients where they co-create your path forward