11 Coaching Styles (Plus Why They're Important)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 16, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Coaching is a type of learning experience for an individual or group of people who desire to reach a personal or professional goal. If this sounds like something you're interested in implementing in your leadership role or as a career, you might consider the different styles of coaching that you can use. Understanding the different coaching styles and why they're important can help you do your best to coach others based on their needs. In this article, we discuss what a coaching style is, why they're important, 11 types of coaching styles and some tips you can use for coaching effectively.

Related: Coaching Techniques: What They Are and How To Use Them at Work

What is a coaching style?

A coaching style is a unique way someone guides others in completing a task or making decisions. A coach can specialize in a certain style, or they can specialize in a few different ones that they can adapt to their clients' preferences. Overall, a coaching style is about helping individuals or a group of people reach their full potential, improve their performance in life or at their job or get through major life changes.

Related: How To Become a Coach (With 5 Benefits of Manager Coaching for Employees)

Why are coaching styles important?

Coaching styles are important for managing different aspects of life, such as making life choices or mentoring employees in the workplace. Understanding when to use a certain type of coaching can improve efficiency in meeting goals. Individuals may complete their goals better when they have a coach because it can help to give them structure and hold them accountable. It can also help individuals learn or sharpen their skills, such as confidence in their self-image and decision-making.

Related: What Is Coaching Leadership? (And When To Use This Style)

11 types of coaching styles

Here are 11 styles of coaching to consider:

1. Democratic coaching

Democratic coaching is allowing individuals being coached to have freedom and hold themselves accountable. With this style of coaching, the coach only steps in to keep the process on track. Individuals receiving this type of coaching can often improve their decision-making and communication skills. They're able to improve these skill sets because they're encouraged to share their input about their decisions and thoughts. They can feel empowered and like they have control over their situation, which also helps them improve their skills. This type of coaching may take longer to see results because it explores all options of a solution.

2. Authoritarian coaching

Authoritarian coaching is letting the coach make all the decisions. They decide what the client is going to do, when they're going to do it and how, with a mutual understanding from the client being coached. With this coaching style, the clients are learning discipline, setting goals and working on achieving the results of their goals, and they learn discipline because they're following directions from their coach. With those directions, they're setting goals on how to achieve them and then working to achieve them to produce the desired outcome.

3. Holistic coaching

Holistic coaching is about creating balance in all parts of decision-making. Coaches that use this style believe everything in life connects, so finding harmony is essential for decisions to work. The individuals being coached with this style often feel like they have a sense of purpose because examining all their choices gives them a wider perspective on their choices, which may help them feel more connected to themselves. This style of coaching can teach individuals relaxation techniques to help them make better choices and learn stress management to produce effective solutions.

4. Autocratic coaching

Autocratic coaching is the coach telling their clients what it is they're supposed to be doing, rather than asking them to do something. This style of coaching can teach individuals how to stay committed and disciplined to a task. Coaches set a specific structure for achieving and accomplishing a definitive goal. Often, the coaches may want to see their clients repeat the process after they've succeeded at it the first time. This can lead to the feeling of staying committed to processes and tasks if they know that it's been successful before. The coaches strive to see excellence in this style.

Related: Your Guide to Visionary Leadership

5. Vision coaching

Vision coaching is about having the coach explain to their individuals what they're supposed to focus on during their session. While the coach gives explicit directions, they encourage them to achieve their goals and do their best. This coaching style primarily relies on individuals receiving feedback and applying it to their next goal. Coaches also encourage them to reflect on what they've done and learned so far and to talk about it, as it can encourage motivation because they can feel supported. This style often works best in a quick-paced environment because it drives results.

6. Laissez-faire coaching

Laissez-faire coaching is when a coach gives the individual all the power in decision-making but helps keep them accountable. They provide few directions for their clients to follow but replace them with encouragement or guidance when requested. This style is about letting the individual come to their coach with their goals, then the client talks about how and when they plan to achieve their goal. From there, the client goes on their own to complete the goal and looks to their coach for any guidance when needed.

7. Mindful coaching

Mindful coaching is using techniques for clients to understand what might limit their decisions or their actions. It can help to uncover what they want to get past, like any challenges they might be encountering. Mindful coaching can show them their patterns and behaviors to change to improve their lives. Coaches using this style can use techniques to help rewire their clients' minds, but they rarely give advice or try to solve their problems. It's about helping individuals find their own potential with resources they can use anywhere to help them make life choices.

8. Bureaucratic coaching

Bureaucratic coaching is about creating a decision ranking with rules and detailed outlines. This type of coaching is best used in environments where the structure for safety and procedures is important, such as in construction. It's less focused on the individual and more on helping structure a larger group of people. This coaching style helps to encourage a group to focus on improving their accountability, efficiency, consistency and safety. Having a direct structure for a group to follow can help to create routine behavior in accomplishing a goal.

9. Developmental coaching

Developmental coaching is about wanting to create awareness and perspective within clients. Coaches who use this approach may believe that understanding awareness and perspective can help improve individuals' focus to accomplish tasks. This coaching focuses on understanding the way humans interpret feedback, developing awareness and intuition in making choices, and becoming more aware when you're entering or leaving autopilot mode in life. Essentially, this coaching style aims to help their clients engage more effectively with their life and others around them.

10. Group coaching

Group coaching is receiving coaching either in person or online with people that share similar goals. This type of coaching can be more accessible for clients because it can cost less and because there's an option to do it online, which gives you the opportunity to do it anywhere. Individuals can benefit from this coaching because they're able to connect with others who have common interests. The individuals in the group can also share their knowledge during sessions so they can learn from each other.

11. Transformational coaching

Transformational coaching focuses on helping individuals who are going through major life changes or want to create a major change in their life. The style primarily is about helping clients understand how their attitude and perception about themselves can affect how they behave. Individuals may want to work on their self-image or learn how they can reach their full potential. Coaches can empower their clients with confidence that they can make the life changes they desire to achieve their ultimate life goals.

Tips for coaching effectively

Here are some tips for coaching effectively:

  • Ask questions: To ensure you're using the best coaching style for a situation or individual, ask questions to gain an understanding of the person's needs. Developing a relationship with clients can help you build trust, which can make it easier for clients to ask questions in return.

  • Be positive: Maintaining a positive approach in any of the coaching styles shows your clients you want to help them, even when encountering challenges.

  • Listen and support: As a coach, it's essential that you're listening to what the individuals need from you so you know the type of guidance they require. Supporting clients can help them feel better if they make a mistake or encounter a challenge.

  • Continue to learn: Continuous education in your coaching style can show your commitment to doing the best you can in your role. It can also provide you with the most updated tools needed to coach your clients to the best of your ability and that meets their needs for coaching.

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