A Good Business Coach wears many hats. They are able to tailor their approach to the needs of their client within each stage of their coaching process. This means that sometimes they will be more of a counsellor, at other times a trainer, a mentor or partner. There are nine different roles that a business coach may adopt while interacting with a client.
The 9 Different Roles of a Business Coach:
- Reflective Observer
- Technical Advisor
- Hands-On Expert
What defines these different these roles, how do they differ and when is each most appropriate to use?
What is the Purpose of a Coach?
A coach expects you to partake in what is essentially a learning conversation. As coaching is performance orientated and focused on the short run, this conversation has a specific purpose. Thus, you will be required to analyse and reflect within the area of life you have chosen to work on. Then, together with your coach, draft a list of goals you want to achieve. Instead of delving into your past with the intention of healing, you will develop a roadmap to achieve your goals. You will measure your progress along this roadmap through predetermined milestones. As you progress, your coach will assist you to understand your strengths and weaknesses. In doing this, they will help you to unlock your own potential and maximise your performance. This will help you to leverage your advantages and thereby better achieve the goals you’ve set.
Understanding the 9 Different Business Coaching Roles
A business coach focuses on maximising the potential of individuals and teams so as to enable a company to perform better. The various stages of the coaching journey are likely to require a business coach to perform different roles.
1. A Counsellor
A coach dons a counsellor’s hat when they help individuals or teams are the right questions to get to the roots of their difficulties. This is to establish what is impairing their ability to function well. A coach to a large extent works off the assumption that a client is in a fairly good space to begin with. Thus, counselling within a business coaching context is about achieving goals not addressing or resolving problems that cause emotional distress. It is about being a sounding board.
2. A Facilitator
Facilitation is defined as helping a group of people decide what results they want to achieve together. Thereafter, how they want to achieve these results and then assisting them in achieving these goals. Thus, coaches usually facilitate group discussions that result in clearly stated ideas and well-thought-out conclusions. A coach becomes a facilitator when they assist with the group’s “journey”. Helping its members to make decisions, solve problems and plan ahead as a unit.
3. A Reflective Observer
A coach remains substantively neutral during group discussions. Instead of filling silences, they use their observational and listening skills to collect data. They then feed this back to the client. This gives a client or group an external, unbiased and sometimes an alternative perspective on what is happening within a situation.
4. A Coach
A coach assists an individual in learning how to perform at the next level. They identify what needs to be different and guide their client through the process of change to maximise their advantages. Thus, coaching takes place for the purpose of creating a path for change. It is designed to result in effective action, improved performance, and/or personal growth for the individual.
5. A Teacher
When a client needs to develop or enhance knowledge, skills and attitudes to improve performance, a coach steps into a teacher-training role. Within this role they may need to be a presenter, demonstrator, guide or administrator.
6. Technical Advisor
In this role a coach assists a client or business in understanding and performing tasks in compliance with best practice. They may design a programme for the company. Then provide the structure and support needed to keep those involved focused, on track and accountable. They may also supply direction on the material and technology needed to support growth and success.
7. A Partner
By definition, partners share responsibility for results and growth. Thus, key is the establishment of a rapport and a relationship of trust and safety between coach and client. This role is often adopted when coaching managers or entrepreneurs. Effectively, a coach will create a non-judgemental space to share concerns, admit failings and seek further expertise, advice or guidance.
8. A Modeller
A modelling role is based on the mutual understanding of the goals and desired outcomes of the relationship. It is guided by measurements, accountability, and results in learning and growth. Modelling means walking alongside a client and sharing knowledge that provides opportunities for networking, team-building, leadership development, and career mobility.
9. A Hands-On Expert
A coach may need to provide “expertise” when the project needs knowledge that is highly specialised and proceduralized. For example, conducting research, conforming to laws and regulations, or using specific tools for problem solving and decision-making. Alternatively, tapping into a coach’s expertise may practically be the development of a general framework. Like those used to develop or operate systems, such as a performance management system.
What determines which Role?
Coaching demands several interlocking skills. These coaches will need to utilise as they move from one role to another, often within a single session. To help pre-determine which role is most appropriate for which task or to achieve a specific milestone, these five steps are often used:
1. Clarify the organisation’s need for results and growth.
2. Openly discuss the current capacities of the client and coach.
3. Use a Collaboration Grid to identify an appropriate match.
4. Ensure that all parties have the support they need.
5. Commit to the agreed-upon roles and responsibilities.
If you are interested in coaching, enquire about one of SACAP’s coaching courses. SACAP offers internationally recognised courses. Which are aligned with the International Coach Federation (ICF), and Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA). Contact us to find out more about a career that involves helping others maximise their potential.