What makes a great coach

Based on the insights from executive coach Ed Batista, a great coach is someone who embodies a set of key skills and follows a thoughtful process to facilitate the growth and development of their clients. Here are the characteristics and practices that make a great coach:

  1. Connection: A great coach begins by establishing a strong interpersonal connection. This involves creating a space where the client feels comfortable and receptive to open up about their needs and challenges. The coach uses open-ended questions to initiate the conversation, signaling readiness to engage with whatever the client wishes to discuss.

  2. Listening: Beyond just hearing, a great coach listens in a way that makes the other person feel truly heard. Listening is a full-body, two-way process that involves understanding not just the words but the emotions and meanings behind them.

  3. Empathy: The ability to comprehend and vicariously experience the client's emotions is crucial. Empathy allows the coach to connect on a deeper level, making the coaching relationship more effective.

  4. Reflecting: A coach reflects back the essence of the client's comments, which can help in validating their thoughts and feelings. This reflection can reveal differences in interpretation or emphasize certain words and phrases that resonate with the client, aiding in further exploration.

  5. Directing Attention: A coach directs the client's attention to specific aspects of their response that warrant further exploration. This can be done through questions or statements and is guided by an intuitive sense of what merits deeper investigation.

  6. Asking Evocative Questions: Throughout the coaching process, a coach asks questions that build upon, integrate, or challenge what's been said. These questions open new avenues for exploration and help the client discover answers they didn't know they had.

  7. Avoiding Pressure: Great coaches avoid putting pressure on themselves to ask "powerful" or "profound" questions, as this can be counterproductive. Instead, they focus on asking questions that invite extended responses and avoid leading questions that may direct the client towards what the coach thinks is right.

  8. Adaptability in Communication: A great coach is adaptable in their communication, knowing when to use questions and when to make statements. They are also sensitive to the individual needs of each client, tailoring their approach accordingly.

  9. Self-awareness: Coaches should be aware of their own development and biases. They should be able to manage their emotions and avoid inserting their own agenda into the coaching process.

  10. Boundary Management: A great coach understands the boundaries of the coaching relationship and distinguishes it from other forms of support like consulting, mentoring, or therapy.

In summary, a great coach is someone who connects, listens, empathizes, reflects, directs, and asks in a way that facilitates the client's self-exploration and growth. They maintain a balance between guiding and allowing the client autonomy, and they create a safe and supportive environment where meaningful change can occur.