What skills does a coach need to be successful? How do you set yourself apart from the other coaches out there, while still ensuring that you help your clients become the best versions of themselves they can be?
What skills will need YOU to have to become successful coach?
Read on – you will find all the answers below.
Who is a Life Coach?
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the most well-known credentialing body for life coaches defines coaching as (ICF.com, 2019):
…partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Life coaches are not therapists. Traditional therapists work through patients’ emotions and treat mental health. Life coaches help clients ask important questions and plan for the future.
In our article “Life Coaching vs Therapy vs Counseling? What to choose and when” we quoted Tony Robbins (one of the most well known coaches), according to Tony:
Life coach is a professional, trained to help you maximize your full potential and reach your desired results. During life coaching session, life coach encourages and counsels clients on a range of professional and personal issues. Life coaching is different from counseling, mentoring and administering therapy. You hire a coach to help you with specific professional projects, personal goals and transitions.
What Are the Essential Skills for Life Coaches?
If you want to become a proficient life coach you need to have or develop certain qualities and master lots of coaching skills. As you can see coaching skillset should include variety of skills: effective communication, awareness, creativity, listening skills, non-verbal listening techniques, ability to learn and respect clients. Below you can find are more information on these skills.
Effective communication is very important and shouldn’t be underestimated in the coaching relationship. Clients go to their coaches expecting to communicate effectively and expressly, but some people do not know exactly how to communicate effectively. So if the coach has effective communication skills, they will help in session to set an example for the client on how they can communicate more effectively in the rest of their relationships.
There are a great many ways for coaches to communicate effectively in sessions with their clients. First of all, a coach should communicate with clients more directly during sessions, and use clear language in order to help clients maximize positive impact. When clients get clear and direct communication, it helps them to focus on the core of the problem that they are dealing with instead of being distracted. A good coach should also give feedback in a very clear and direct way to not let the clients get confused or uncertain about what they need to do in order to get to their goals. Part of the matter is that a coach should assist their clients to understand issues from a different perspective, which would help them find certainty when they feel unsure. This includes asking questions in an effective way to aid clients in gaining clarity on their problems and on how they should work toward their goals to reach them. And of course, life coaches should use disrespectful and inappropriate language with clients. The final goal is for the client to be able to clearly hear what the coach is saying, so communicating in a language the client can relate to is an important part of it. Another important thing is to use precise analogies and metaphors in order to let clients understand ideas with greater sophistication and depth.
Encouraging client awareness is a very important part of being an effective life coach. Awareness is a fundamental requirement for change, because unless a client becomes aware they cannot really choose to make new decisions. So a good coach should always try to help their clients to become more aware of their actions, thoughts, emotions, and issues.
Coaches also need to help clients in expanding their perspective. A good life coach would help their clients see when they are stuck in a single way of perceiving the world by both challenging and supporting them to investigate new perspectives. That way, coaches can help clients discover new thoughts, passions, beliefs, insights, and behaviors that might be more beneficial to their current life and their future. And they would also try to help the client become more aware of new perspectives in their life and, potentially, new ways of doing things.
Active listening is an actual skill, and most people do not use it when they have conversations. Instead, they just wait to take their turn to speak without really listening when they interact with other people. The art of active listening is being fully and completely present in conversation with your clients and hearing what they are saying. It is also in developing the ability to keep your mind concentrated on the client and their problems instead of turning inward and focusing on your own thoughts.
Active listening is also about paying attention to the entirety of what a client is saying and not just concentrating on their words. Body language can help a lot to communicate as well when working with clients. For instance, imagine that your client is saying that they have had a great week but at the same time they are clenching a fist or their arms are crossed. That body language may be communicating that they experience some frustration or anxiety over their week that they are not telling you about. The client’s communication reaches beyond just words and a good life coach should listen carefully to the tone of voice, volume, pitch, and word choice in what the client is saying.
Non-Verbal Listening Techniques
Eye contact can be a strong indicator of attention, and when the coach maintains eye contact with the client, whether in person or over a video call, they clearly show them that they are genuinely listening to what they are telling. But it is also important not to stare all the time and to look away from time to time so that the client won’t feel intimidated or weird in any way about that eye contact.
Facial expressions can indicate that you are present and concentrated. Try demonstrating to your client that you are fully present using your facial expressions and body language. Show with your eye movements or your mouth that you are truly following along with what they are saying. Always smile when they are talking about good things that are going on in their life and, conversely, show some empathy in your expression when you are discussing something hard or challenging.
Body language is very important as well, so nodding or tilting the head can assure your client that you are truly tuned in to what you are saying. It can also show that you are actually present with them when they are speaking. A simple nod is often perceived the same way as saying “yes, go on” by the client. It truly encourages them to go deeper in what they are talking about, as well as to express their ideas with far more depth, and ultimately to tell you more.
Coaching – Most Important Skills to Have
Nobody is born with a full set of coaching skills, and it looks like a lot to learn, but in the end, lot of it comes down to a few key things:
- Emotional intelligence to communicate effectively with their clients, to support and understand their perspectives.
- Cognitive intelligence to understand client’s goals, personal values, weaknesses and strengths.
- Creativity and understanding of the coaching process to motivate and develop client’s strengths to achieve the one’s desired goal.
Whether you want to become a life coach, or you want to use your coaching skills to lead your team to success, these skills will likely to make a great positive difference along the way.