Types and Benefits of Coaching: A Comprehensive Guide

Sections of this topic

    © Copyright Carter McNamara, MBA, Ph.D., Authenticity Consulting, LLC

    The aim of this topic is to orient the reader to personal coaching, its many benefits and applications, different kinds of coaching and some coaching models, core skills needed by coaches, and additional resources about the profession and coaching. The topic will be useful to you whether you plan to use coaching informally on yourself, others, teams, or organizations, or whether you seek to become a professional coach. The topic also will help you if you want to start a coaching service, whether it’s a new organization, expanding a current organization, or starting a new product or service.

    • If you think you would benefit from coaching, see our one-on-one coaching services.
    • If you are a coach and want to expand your toolbox of services (in this very competitive market of coaching), then learn Facilitating Group Coaching.

    Sections of This Topic Include

    NOTE: The following links are to topics that are included later on below on this page — and each topic includes yet more links.

    Understanding Coaching

    Coaching as a Service

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    Field of Personal and Professional Coaching

    Doing Coaching

    Business of Coaching

    General Resources and Topics

    Also, consider
    Related Library Topics

    Have a Question, Suggestion, or Resource About Coaching?

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    Action Learning and Coaching For Everyone

    Understanding Coaching

    What is Coaching? How Does it Compare to Other Fields or Professions?

    The field of personal and professional coaching has grown rapidly in the past 15 years and, as with most fields and professions that experience this kind of growth, there are many different perspectives on coaching. Here’s a definition that perhaps most people would agree with. (There are more perspectives provided in the next section, immediately below.)

    Coaching involves working in a partnership between coach and client(s) to provide structure, guidance, and support for clients to:

    1. Take a complete look at their current state, including their assumptions and perceptions about their work, themselves, and/or others;
    2. Set relevant and realistic goals for themselves, based on their own nature and needs;
    3. Take relevant and realistic actions toward reaching their goals; and
    4. Learn by continuing to reflect on their actions and sharing feedback with others along the way.

    Coaching can be especially useful to help individuals, groups, and organizations address complex problems and/or achieve significant goals and to do so in a highly individualized fashion while learning at the same time.

    Many people believe that coaching is different than training and might describe training as an expert conveying certain subject matter to a student in order for the student to do a current task more effectively. Those people might add that training isn’t as much of a partnership as a coaching relationship. Many might also believe that coaching is different than consulting and might describe consulting as especially using advice to help another person, team, or organization to solve a problem. Others might assert that a good consultant would use skills in training and coaching, depending on the needs of the client. (A more progressive view is that a consultant is someone in a role to guide and/or support change, but who has no direct authority to make that change happen. Thus, an advisor, trainer, facilitator, or coach would be a consultant in this situation.)

    Many people assert that coaching is a profession, while others assert that it is a field, that is, that coaching has not yet accomplished a standardized approach, code of ethics, and credibility to be a profession. This topic in the Library alternatively refers to coaching as a profession and a field.

    Some Basic Definitions to Get Used Started

    Now, Consider the Comparison of Coaching to Other Fields

    General Framework of a Coaching Program

    There is no standardized approach to a coaching program that all practitioners agree on, much like there is in medicine where standardized procedures are used for certain maladies. Rather, each coach focuses on a particular type of, and approach to, coaching that suits his/her nature and interests, and applies that approach to the types of clients that most closely match the coach’s passions, interests, and capabilities. However, the reader can get an impression of a general framework that seems common to the approaches of many coaches.

    How the framework is implemented depends on the coach’s training and any particular model or school followed by the coach. Also, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of coaches and, consequently, increasing competition among them. One of the ways that coaches can differentiate each other is by how they customize their coaching process to seem even more powerful and unique. The framework seems to be:

    1. Forming a relationship with the potential client, including assessing if the client is really ready for coaching, orienting the client to personal and professional coaching, and clarifying how both the coach and client prefer to work together.
    2. Establishing a mutual agreement or coaching contract, including the roles of the coach and client, ground rules for working together, frequency of meetings, confidentiality, etc.
    3. Developing client-centered goals to be achieved during the coaching project, the goals of which depend very much on whether the coaching is performance- or well-being-oriented.
    4. A series of face-to-face and/or phone-based meetings with the coach and client, including ongoing questions, affirmations, accountabilities, etc., to identify relevant and realistic actions the client can take to achieve the goals and learn at the same time.
    5. Evaluating the coaching, both during and shortly after the project, is made easier if the coaching was based on mutually agreed goals.

    Thus, it’s likely that many coaches would have many opinions about the above rather simplified description The following links are to resources that describe a similar framework.

    How Coaching Works (a Short Video)

    Coaching Conversations and Laser Coaching

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    Coaching Conversations

    In contrast to a coaching program, which includes the above framework, coaching can be done in a one-time conversation. The conversation might include a small sampling of the type of support that a coach would give in each of the meetings in a coaching program. One of the hallmarks of coaching is the use of questions. (It’s important to acknowledge that the primary use of questions is not unique to coaching; consider, for example, Action Learning (developed in the 1930s or self-directed Rogerian Therapy heralded by Carl Rogers.) Here’s an example of the difference between a coaching conversation and a common chatty conversation, when trying to help someone.

    See a 25-minute video that explains what coaching conversations are, what good coaching
    is, when to use and not use it, the format of a coaching session, good coaching questions to ask, and what successful coaching really is. From the Consultants
    Development Institute

    Laser Coaching

    Laser coaching involves one or a few short, usually concise, and forward-focused coaching sessions to address an urgent and/or very specific issue. It also can be used to demonstrate the coaching process to a potential client. It’s also useful for very busy people who are reluctant to commit to a long-term program.

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    Coaching as a Service

    Benefits of Coaching

    Listings of Benefits

    A “Coaching Culture”

    A coaching culture is where many people in the workplace instinctively coach in their communications with each other — they deeply listen and understand each other, generate relevant and realistic actions
    to make progress on current priorities — and learn at the same time.

    Also, consider
    Organizational Culture

    Hiring a Coach and Getting Coached

    Would You Benefit From a Coach? What Kind?

    The following articles will also help you discern whether you’d benefit from a coach. Be sure to review some of the resources at Benefits of Coaching and tips and Some Common Types of Coaching and Virtual Coaching. You might also benefit from undergoing some assessments to see if there are any areas of your life or work that you might address in coaching. See Self-Assessments, Team Assessments, and Organizational Assessments.

    Are You Ready for Coaching?

    You might have realized some benefits that you might gain from coaching. That’s not enough. You also need to be ready to work with someone in a relationship where the other person (the coach) is there to help you — you need to be ready to accept that help. Here are some quick assessments to help you think about whether you’re ready for coaching.

    What Does Coaching Cost? How Long Does Coaching Take?

    This is a little like asking “How much does a car cost?” because the cost and duration of coaching depend on what you want to accomplish by using a coach and also on your nature when being involved with a coach to meet your needs. However, the following links are to a variety of types of coaches and perhaps it’ll be useful to scan their information to get a sense of fees, duration, and even how they work with clients. (We are not endorsing the following sites or coaches.)

    Also, consider

    Also, consider

    Field of Personal and Professional Coaching

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    Two Broad Categories of Coaching

    Performance Coaching

    Performance coaching aims to enhance the performance of an individual, team, project, or organization, especially to establish and achieve desired goals, whether they be goals for individual, team, project, or organizational development. The very popular business coaching is usually a form of performance coaching. Performance coaches are often — but not exclusively — hired by organizations, rather than by individuals.

    Also, consider

    Well-Being Coaching

    Well-being, or being coaching, aims to enhance the quality of life for an individual, for example, to support the individual to accomplish more personal or professional development, such as enhanced health, meaning, and satisfaction in his/her life. The very popular life coaching is usually a form of well-being coaching. Well-being coaches are often — but not exclusively — hired by individuals, rather than by organizations.

    Also, consider

    Domains of Coaching


    Long-term change, whether in your career, work, or organization, usually begins with yourself, so self-coaching is an extremely important capability. Self-coaching can be done for yourself at any time.

    Also, consider

    One-On-One Coaching

    One-on-one coaching is perhaps the most well-known form of coaching and is what most people think of when they think of coaching. The process and manner in which this form of coaching is done depend very much on the particular coaching model, training, and nature of the coach. An important topic is how coaching compares to therapy (see What is Coaching?).

    Individual vs. Group (Financial) Coaching — Which is Best for You?

    Also, consider

    Peer Coaching

    Peer coaching is increasingly popular because it can be done spontaneously
    when needed and is low-cost because coaching experts typically are not being
    paid for services. There are many different perspectives on and designs of,
    peer coaching.

    Also, consider

    Group Coaching

    There are various forms of group coaching. For example, a coach can coach each member one at a time or support members to coach each other (a peer coaching group). Many people assert a difference between group coaching and team coaching. Action Learning is a very popular form of group coaching and is used by most Fortune 1000 companies in the US, as well as being very popular in Europe. Many people would consider team building to be team coaching.

    Also consider

    Organizational Coaching

    Organizational coaching aims to enhance the performance of a unit in the organization (a department or process) or the entire organization. This type of coaching gets the best results when its goals are closely aligned with the business goals of the unit or organization.

    Also, consider

    Some Common Types of Coaching and Virtual Coaching

    There are numerous types of coaching and the number seems to increase with each type of work, interest, or challenge that people experience. In this section are some of the most common types. For example, there are business coaches, creativity coaches, career coaches, executive coaches, health and wellness coaches, financial coaches, life coaches, leadership coaches, marketing coaches, relationship coaches, sales coaches, small business coaches, spiritual coaches, team coaches, work-life coaches … and the list goes on and on. Coaching is so popular, and there are so many types of coaching, and the rate of those entering coaching is so high — that there’s a growing industry in training coaches and getting business for coaches. Here’s an overview of a few of the most common types of coaches.

    Business Coaching

    A business coach helps business owners or members of the organization to improve the business by using the philosophies, models, and tools of coaching. The business coach also might impart knowledge
    about various functions of business, for example, planning, marketing, and finances (many coaches might argue that coaching does not involve imparting expert knowledge, but that depends on the coach). Some people might consider a leadership and executive coach to be a business coach because that type of coaching usually occurs within the context of a business.

    Also consider

    Career Coaching

    Career coaches help individuals to discover what they want to do as a vocation, plan their careers, increase job satisfaction, and sometimes make a career transition, or even advance in their own careers.

    Also, consider

    Leadership, Executive, and Management Coaching

    Also, consider

    Life Coaching

    See Well-Being (Life) Coaching

    Virtual Coaching (E-Coaching)

    Virtual coaching is coaching done by means of telecommunications, for example, phone or Web-based tools.

    Also, consider

    Some Examples of Coaching Models

    A coaching model is a framework that concisely depicts the concepts and approach of the approach to coaching. There are many models, and it’s best for a coach to know more than one. Here are some examples. The purpose of this listing is not to suggest which models are best but rather to give the reader a sense of what a coaching model is. (Some people refer to “methods,” rather than models.)

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    Doing Coaching

    If you plan to do some coaching, whether you want to become a professional coach or not, be sure to review the above information, at least the major sections “Understanding Coaching” and “Coaching as a Service,” in this topic before reviewing some of the resource referenced in this section.

    Test – How Good Are Your Coaching Skills Now?

    Test – How Good Are Your Coaching Skills Now?

    Before you consider more about doing coaching either as a profession or just as a skill to use in your life and work, you might get an impression of your skills in coaching now. Take this quick test.

    Assess Your Coaching Skills

    Useful Skills for Coaches


    Build Relationships

    Generate Learning


    Cultivating Relationships

    Coaching Forward

    Coaching Others

    Also, consider
    Useful Skills for Coaches

    Some Tools for Coaching

    The list of “tools” needed for coaching is an expansive, long list because coaching is a relationship between people — and people are very dynamic “systems,” so there are many tools needed in cultivating and maintaining that successful relationship (some of the tools are already listed in the previous section Useful Skills for Coaches).

    Evaluating Coaching (and the ROI of Coaching)

    Evaluating Coaching (General Guidelines)

    Return on Investment (ROI) of Coaching

    Also, consider

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    Business of Coaching

    The Profession and Professionalism of Coaches

    Profession of Coaching


    Professionalism and Ethics

    Although many people believe there is a difference between the nature of coaching and consulting, guidelines for professionalism and working with clients can be very similar.

    Become a Professional Coach?

    The following resources are to help you think about whether to learn a lot more about coaching. If you want to be really good at coaching, or even to be a professional coach, then certification in coaching is the best way to ensure professional skills and establish strong credibility. See Some Coaching Training Organizations and Associations.

    How to Start a Coaching Business

    This topic assumes that you already have expertise in coaching and are thinking about starting a business to be a professional coach. The guidelines in this topic are focused on helping you to start a new organization, expand a current organization, or start a new service. If you do not yet have expertise in coaching, you should review much of the contents of this overall topic, and then certainly practice coaching in a variety of venues, including with evaluation from other professional coaches and clients in your coaching. Certification in coaching is the best way to ensure professional skills and establish strong credibility. See Some Coaching Training Organizations and Associations.

    Are You Really an Entrepreneur?

    Are You Really Ready?

    Starting a New Organization?

    Planning Your New Organization

    Deciding the Legal Structure of Your New Organization

    U.S. Enterprise Law — Forming Organizations

    Or Expanding a Current Organization?

    Business Development

    Or Starting a New Product or Service?

    Product Development

    Marketing Your Organization, Product, or Service

    Getting and Keeping Clients

    Getting Paid

    The Reason It Feels Hard to Get Paid What You’re Worth

    Dealing With Clients

    When to Bail from a Project

    When to Bail from a Consulting Project

    Sustaining Your Business

    How to Build a Sustainable Coaching Business (And Double Your Rates in the Process)

    Minimizing Risk

    Staying Centered as a Coach

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    General Resources and Topics

    Some Coaching Training Organizations and Associations

    Resources With Many Resources About Coaching

    Bibliographies of Books About Coaching

    Some Publications To Help You Learn More About Coaching

    Many Related Topics

    Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Coaching

    In addition to the articles on this current page, also see the following blogs that have posts related to Coaching. Scan down the blog’s page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts” in the sidebar of the blog or click on “Next” near the bottom of a post in the blog. The blog also links to numerous free related resources.

    For the Category of Leadership:

    To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.

    Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.