Management & Leadership

What makes a good coach?

Nov 09, 2015
what makes a good coach

What personal qualities do top coaches possess that separate them from good coaches? Is it more training or inner character traits? Is it more coaching technique or artistry? Is it more coaching knowledge or its application? Is it more natural talent for helping people or cultivated abilities? Is it insightful analysis of people or an abiding presence with them?

For answers to these questions we speak to System Change Practitioner George Vincent Eadie from Lockstep, an organisational consulting firm that specialises in the alignment of four key business drivers: leadership, culture, strategy and talent.

Q: What are the three major distinguishing personal qualities that top coaches possess that set them apart from good coaches?

A: In my view, coaches distinguish themselves with a disposition of presence – one that is a result of a regular “presencing” practice. They possess the ability to listen with their whole body in order to discern the essential. And, they are able to guide an integration of all aspects of a human life.

Q: How important is coach training versus inner qualities? In other words, to what extent does good training make for good coaching? And what kind of inner qualities does a top coach possess?

A: No good coach has the one without the other when it comes to training versus inner qualities. The best coaches I ever had were life-long students of their practice, perpetually integrating new material and input for improvement. Yet, no amount of training can protect a coach from the unknown – the risk of the illusion of that vast space not existing is more dangerous. While I don’t differentiate between “personal” and “inner” qualities, I will add one: a prized inner quality of a coach is a deeply held belief that anybody, no matter their position or situation, can make a most spectacular self-liberation.

Q: Is coaching technique more important than coaching artistry? In other words, how much of good coaching has to do with mastery of the coaching skills set? Or does natural flair play a more important role?

A: Smart people aren’t surprised by counsel that is technique-informed – it is what they don’t expect, sometimes the irreverent, that moves them. Knowing where that edge is takes tremendous artistry. In slightly more niched coaching, like entrepreneur coaching, there is great value in “pathway” type coaching. All that said, I see artistry as part of the technique and vice versa.

Q: What’s more important: coaching knowledge or its application? How important is the learning process in developing a great coach? Or is the experience of time in the field a more significant factor?

A: All things being equal, I would go with coaching application trumping coaching knowledge as I personally favour direct experience above abstract learning as an educational territory.

Q: Does it matter that the coach really gets to know the client? Or is good coaching more down to the coach’s ability to make people feel comfortable, connected and open to growth?

A: I believe the coach needs to establish a connection to the essential self of the client (that which was, is and always will be) in an uninvolved way. All other aspects, such as getting to know the client, insightful analysis, providing a facilitative environment of growth, flow from there.

Q: Is great coaching more a natural talent for helping people or are cultivated abilities more important? In other words, are top coaches born or bred?

A: Nobody truly great at anything is doing something against their nature. And, nobody truly great at anything is an overnight success.

Do you want to help others achieve their full potential, improve their relationships and enhance their performance? If you’re fascinated by these questions, then studying coaching at SACAP’s Graduate School of Coaching & Leadership is definitely for you. With more than 15 years’ of coach training experience, SACAP’s Graduate School of Coaching & Leadership empowers leaders to harness their potential and effect change through excellence in coaching and leadership education.

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