Management & Leadership

There are many types of coaching. This guide explains them all

Oct 16, 2019

All coaching offers a vehicle for analysis, reflection and action, but there are many different types, all catering to different individuals and different needs.

Key takeaways

  • Despite its extent of scope and technique, all coaching should invoke analysis, reflection and action on the part of the coachee.
  • Executive and skills coaching fall into the category of business coaching, while life coaching is more focused on personal outcomes. All coaching is typically delivered in a reflective rather than directive manner.
  • Relationship coaching straddles both personal and work life in that it focuses on everything from communication to stress management and emotional wellness.

In The Manager as Coach and Mentor, author Eric Parsloe defines coaching as “a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve.”

To be successful, says Parsloe, a coach “requires a knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place”.

There’s certainly no denying that coaching is a broad profession involving a huge variety of techniques and styles. However, the common thread uniting all types of coaching is that these services offer a vehicle for analysis, reflection and action that ultimately enables clients to achieve success in one or more areas of their personal and/or work lives.

This guide explains five of the main types of coaching, what they involve and who they are best suited to…

Personal life coaching

What is it? A type of coaching that provides support to individuals wishing to make some form of significant change happen in their lives.

Who is it for? Those seeking to move forward from their present situations in order to improve their lives.

How does it work? Life coaches help clients explore what they want in life and how they might achieve their aspirations and fulfil their dreams. These coaches typically ask questions that will challenge the individual to find answers from within. The purpose is to draw out a person’s potential rather than to attempt to instill knowledge; the process, in other words, is more reflective than directive. This type of coaching helps the individual discover answers based on his or her own values, preferences, and perspectives.

Executive coaching

What is it? A form of business coaching, executive coaching is aimed at enhancing performance in the workplace, taking skills and abilities to a new level and helping individuals adapt to new situations. This type of coaching is often called leadership or performance coaching as it tends to target those in leadership positions where staff performance is a key concern.

Who is it for? Typically, senior managers, directors and key players within a business setting who require further development.

How does it work? One-on-one executive coaching offers an opportunity for clients to take time out to reflect, develop a personal awareness of their strengths and areas for development and work on the specific issues they are challenged with. It can also be a powerful platform for improving their own performance in their work environments.

Relationship coaching

What is it? Whether it’s a personal or business relationship, finding harmony with others is essential for a happy life. It is relationship challenges that these coaches seek to address and, as such, this type of coaching focuses on everything from conflict resolution and effective communication to stress management and emotional wellness.

Who is it for? Individuals, couples, and groups seeking to build healthier, more fulfilling relationships.

How does it work? Relationship coaches help clients address their challenges and goals by showing them how to question their assumptions and identify their behavioural patterns and blocks. Coachees learn to set clearer, healthier relationship parameters and uncover new mechanisms for listening and expressing themselves. With the help of these coaches, clients work toward greater fulfilment and personal transformation through effective and satisfying relationships.

Career coaching

What is it? A career coach helps individuals identify the right roles for themselves and then assists in making the transition to these jobs.

Who is it for? From graduates just getting started in their careers to those who’ve been working on their career paths for years, anyone looking to advance in his or her career, or even to make a complete career change, can benefit from career coaching.

How does it work? Career coaching integrates career research and complex psychological theory with current knowledge about the job market and organisational processes. Coaches help clients understand the world of work and their own personal development – and to find the sweet spot where the two meet. Career coaching involves skills assessment, establishing a career action plan, and the enhancement of employability.

Skills coaching

What is it? Traditional training programmes are often too inflexible or generic to deal with the fast-moving rate at which job roles are changing. In these instances one-on-one skills coaching allows a flexible, adaptive “live” approach to skills development.

Who is it for? Employees who need to perform in their roles and attain set deliverables and success goals.

How does it work? Skills coaching programmes are tailored specifically to individuals – their knowledge, experience, maturity and ambitions – and are generally focused on achieving a number of objectives for both the individual and the company. These objectives may include the individual being able to perform specific, well-defined tasks whilst taking into account his or her personal and career development needs. These coaches typically possess qualifications and experience in the areas in which the skills-transfer coaching is offered.

Whatever your personal attributes, strengths or interests, there is a coaching role for you. If this is a career you are considering, why not consider studying coaching through SACAP? The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a range of coaching courses, all of which are accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and aligned with COMENSA standards. For more information, enquire now.

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