What type of coach are you? From Good to Great

What type of coach are you? Where in the coaching spectrum do you feel most comfortable, how might this hold you or your coachee back? These are some of the questions I have been asking myself recently.


Rather than define coaching again please see my previous post on what is coaching if you aren’t clear on what coaching means. I currently work as a Agile Coach and coaching is part of that role. In this post I will be describing the 1-2-1 coaching relationship rather than team coaching.


Stealing from the much used format Good to Great:

A good coach is aware of how he coaches and his biases, a great coach can alter his coaching approach to facilitate in the best possible way learning or mobility of the coachee.


Everyone coaches differently and it is important to find your own style. More importantly I think it is important to learn from others styles. “Beware of the man with one book” – St. Thomas Aquinas. Erik de Haan in his book Relational Coaching outlines one visualisation of coaching styles which I have added a little to below.



Interestingly De Haan focuses on the coaching relationship and draws on the extensive research around psychotherapy to evidence this.

The learning for me from this was to focus on the relationship and get it on the table, talk about it. Inviting discussion about what the coachee would like from the relationship to make it more effective.


The grey area in the above diagram shows where I feel most comfortable in my coaching style. Using the model as a self reflection tool and thinking about where I felt comfortable seemed useful to me. I need to work harder in the insight focus, coaching of beliefs and values.


I decided to try adding to the model and add some of my own thoughts. Against this model the grey area shows again where I feel most comfortable.


Thinking about trying out the particularly challenging styles of ironic or provocative coaching made me nervous.



Coaching Relationship vs Tools and techniques

Looking through the models above you probably realised I still feel that simply having a good relationship would not be enough for me as a novice coach. I want to have a wider depth of coaching understanding and be more comfortable with many coaching styles. Why, you may ask? (A very blunt coaching question, and one possibly to avoid) to enable me to be the best possible coach for each person. I want to be a paint drip coach with lot’s of drips in each coaching skill area around the paint can of coaching.


This may be the rescuer in me trying to be the best for each client, again something to be aware of personally, trying to soften the need to fix, stay with the not knowing and staying conscious to the belief that the coachee has all the answers. I again swing back to the need to focus upon the relationship more over any specific technique!


The Dangers of Affiliative social values as a coach

Another perspective that was interesting for me when asking what kind of coach are you is to look at beliefs and values. Through being coached and through coaching training I have recognised in myself people pleasing and affiliative behaviour appears to be part of my core values and beliefs. For further info see McClelland & Burnham 2003 research on social values.


If we take Egan’s the skilled helper model a simple model for the helping conversations and apply my more naturally held coaching state (affiliative, people pleasing) to the three step process; Exploring, Defining and Managing.


  1. EXPLORING – In the first stage Exploring the problem the coaching is likely to progress well. I will listen and support.
  2. DEFINING – This will require a change of stance and potentially more skills outside of listening. The ability to challenge assumptions for example which is likely to be harder for a people pleaser.
  3. MANAGING – This may work best with a range of knowledge around goal setting for example, commitment, the will do part of the GROW model for example. Something as an early novice coach I failed to do.


Making sure I am aware of my own bias, values and beliefs and how these affect my coaching was the learning here.



This post and writing has been a useful self reflection for me here are my key takeaways:

It is important to have a range of skills to help your coachee

It is equally important to establish and maintain a coaching relationship

A potential goal of coaching is to get people moving forward, as coaches we must also keep our selves moving forward with our learning. This post has been a good piece of self reflection and learning for me



Egan, G (2002) The skilled Helper

De Hann, E (2005) Relational Coaching

McClelland & Burnham 2003 – Power is the great motivator

Kent Beck – Paint Drip People



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