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What Different Types of Coaching Are There?

Blog Series: De-mystifying Coaching

Blog #2: What Different Types of Coaching Are There?

Types of Professional Coaching

By Cindy Turner, Master Coach

For the unsuspecting leader wanting to explore coaching, there are a few things that are helpful to understand before engaging a coach. This second blog in the De-mystifying Coaching series outlines the different types of professional coaching available. 

There are a variety of professional coaching specialties and depending on the individual coach, they may work across one or more specialty areas depending on their background and areas of interest.  A coach might operate with a specific focus, or lens depending on the client (coachee), their objectives and the context they’ve been engaged into.  

A Bit About Coaches

Before we dive into the types of coaching available, it is worth noting a bit about the coaches delivering these services. People who choose to become coaches come to the profession from many different backgrounds. For simplicity sake, we have grouped coaches into two categories. 

Subject Matter Experts

At some point in their career, leaders who have become ‘subject matter experts’ (SME’s) in their chosen field may choose to become a coach. They undertake coaching studies and develop professional coaching skills so they can work with others, to help them grow and develop their potential in a specific field eg. sales, leadership, business. SME’s are professionals who have acquired meaningful experience through years spent working in one or more fields. It is with such advanced knowledge and expertise that they coach and provide guidance and support to others.

Professional Coaches

The second group of coaches come into coaching in a different way. They aren’t necessarily subject matter experts in a chosen field. Instead, they bring the intuitive skills and personality traits of attentive listening, observing, goodwill, altruism, compassion and other attitudes that are important to a coaching practice, and a desire to help people move towards their desired outcomes. 

We believe that both, coaches and subject matter experts have their place in the coaching space. When engaging a coach, it’s important to consider whether a subject matter expert is required. You may not necessarily need a highly experienced subject matter expert to enable you to achieve your goals. In our experience working with clients, a coachee’s barriers to success most often has to do with a lack of self-awareness, misaligned beliefs, inaccurate perception of their current situation to name a few. In other words, the coachee’s limitations are more to do with the ones they have placed on themselves rather than a lack of knowledge around a chosen specialisation. Choosing the right coach depends on your specific goals, expectations and requirements.

Coaching Approaches

There are a wide range of appoaches a coach may take with the coachee. Some coaches are more comfortable working in the Doing Context (environment, competencies, skills, behaviours and attitudes), while others will focus more on the Being Context (values, beliefs, identity, mission).

The ‘Doing’ Context

Relating to psychological concepts similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or Dilts’ Logical Level, some coaches will differentiate themselves in the market and describe their approach using terminology that emphasises Doing. Their focus is to work at the lower levels of the pyramid with performance based language, a strong action-orientation and tangible results.

The ‘Being’ Context

Whereas other coaches will have a stronger focus on the aspect of Being. They have a tendency to work with the higher levels of identity, purpose, mission, etc. 

An ongoing coaching relationship generally requires looking at both aspects of an individual’s lived experience. At times a coach may prefer to begin the coaching conversation from the Doing or the Being perspective but integration of both dimensions is generally the desired outcome of the coaching relationship.

Different Types of Professional Coaching

You’re probably starting to get the impression that there are a wide range of coaches in the world, offering a variety of coaching approaches. And you are correct. Here are some of the most common types of professional coaching:

Career Coaching

What is it? A career coach helps individuals identify the right role for themselves based on their unique strengths, passions and interests. This involves gaining clarity of the coachee’s career vision and finding greater fulfilment and purpose through work. The coach then assists the coachee in takingthe needed actions to accomplish their career objectives in balance with the other parts of their lives.

Who is it for? Career coaching is beneficial foranyone looking to advance their career, wants to re-enter the workforce after some time away or those who want to make a complete career change. 

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

Leadership Coaching

What is it? A leadership coach helps leaders to identify their leadership strengths and areas of improvement such as: to develop their emotional intelligence or ‘soft skills, effective communication, conflict resolution skills and stress management.

Who is it for? For leaders who want to improve or gain leadership skills. They may be a high-potential emerging leader, team leader, middle and senior manager.

How does it work? One-on-one leadership coaching offers an opportunity for the coachee to take time out to reflect, develop their personal awareness of strengths and development areas and work on the specific issues they are challenged with. The focus tends to be more operational and relational.

Business Coaching

What is it? Business coaching is about business growth and success. A business coach will work alongside a business to assist in identifying future business goals while improving current operations.

Who is it for? Entrepreneurs and business owners.

How does it work? Business coaching offers the business owner the opportunity to review their current business systems and processes, marketing, sales approaches, business culture, human resource practices, IT and administration. A coach helps the business owner to review what is working well and what areas need developing. They then work alongside the business to develop an action plan and provide accountability in achieving it.

A business coach generally falls under the ‘Subject Matter Expert’ category as outlined in our first blog. They typically are experienced business people themselves and can provide insight and advice because of their proven experience. 

Executive Coaching

What is it? Executive coaching is aimed at enhancing the performance of executives in the workplace, taking leadership skills and abilities to a new level, managing organisational change, overcoming de-railers, preparing for advancement, finding better work/life balance as well as managing people and performance management.

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 leaders, executives, 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 the coachee to take time out to reflect, develop their personal awareness of strengths and development areas 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.

Director and Board Coaching (A subset of Executive Coaching)

What is it? Director and Board coaching is a form of Executive coaching with a particular focus on enhancing the performance of individual Board Directors and the Board as a collective more broadly.

Who is it for? New or prospective company directors, non-executive board directors, board chairs and boards as a collective.

How does it work? Executive coaching for directors and boards aims to bring out the best in individual directors and enable the board to work better as a team. Support may be sought around role/career changes and joining the board, managing change and conflict and enhancing personal impact and performance. An Executive Coach also provides a sounding board and is a channel through which sensitive issues can be addressed in a safe and controlled manner.

Wellness Coaching

What is it? Finding harmony at work and achieving balance in our lives is essential for a happy and fulfilling life. Wellness coaching is a newer and much needed area of focus given rising levels of stress, challenge, complexity and workplace pace.

Who is it for? Wellness coaching is for any individual who is looking to reduce stress levels and pursue a more balanced, calm, mindful approach in life.

How does it work? Wellness coaches work to facilitate change within an individual or group to optimise health and wellbeing. They may have a particular focus area such as: nutrition, mindfulness, physical fitness, mindset etc and may overlap these focus areas to get the best outcome with their client.

Group/Team Coaching 

What is it? Group coaches work with individuals in groups. The focus can range from leadership development to career development, stress management to team building. 

Who is it for? Any workplace team who wants to enhance their collective team performance or a group of individual leaders who have a shared learning focus area.

How does it work? Group coaching is facilitated by a highly experienced coach as this approach combines the benefits of individual coaching with the resources of groups. Individuals learn from each other and the interactions that take place within the group setting.

As I’m sure you’ve gathered here, there are a wide variety of coaching types depending on the background and specialisation areas of the coach you’re working with. When in doubt, get curious and ask your prospective coach what type of coaching they do, how they work and what outcomes they typically achieve with their clients. And more specifically, how could they assist you. Best of luck!