The Alphabet of Good Coaches: Part 2


By Bruce D. Stasch, Marketing Manager, Work Effects

In Part I of this article (, we discussed some attributes that make for a successful coach. Good coaches must have a positive attitude, a sense of determination, and an ability to help you to find an approach for even the most difficult situation with creativity and intelligence. This article will discuss 14 additional characteristics that set good coaches apart from unsuccessful ones.

Mindfulness:An effective coach is always in the moment and pays careful attention to you. Being able to focus completely on you while also being aware of her own emotional state is central to being an engaging coach. A coach who practices mindfulness both in her coaching sessions and in her personal and professional life will be able to maximize every interaction with you and teach you how to live every moment to the fullest.

Networking Skills: Networking is very important to a successful career. Learning how to initiate and maintain connections with other professionals is one of the most important skills in the business world and a coach who is adept at networking can teach you new ways to build relationships that will grow your network. As an added bonus, a well-networked coach may give you the opportunity to interact with others by connecting you to professionals in your field.

Objectivity: A great coach gives you her unbiased opinion and does not let emotions, mood, or prejudices get in the way. An open-minded coach respects your beliefs even if they differ from her own. This is important in putting things into their proper perspective. When a difficult issue comes up, your coach should maintain her objectivity to help you to find constructive outcomes.

Patience: A good coach understands that sometimes it can take time for progress to be made. While maintaining a sense of urgency is good, a coach also must recognize that immediate changes are not always possible. Your coach must recognize that breaking old habits requires repetition and mistakes often are made along the way. A patient coach doesn’t try to rush you to discover new things and is willing to take a step-by-step approach to behavioral change.

Questioning: A coach needs to exhibit an intellectual curiosity, which involves expressing interest in your situation and trying to get to the bottom of each issue. This means asking plenty of questions to understand you better and knowing how to ask good questions to solicit meaningful responses. Asking the right questions can take coaching conversations to a new level.

Reading: The saying goes that leaders are readers. The same goes for great coaches. Anybody whose role involves mentoring or developing others constantly should strive to learn more and gather new information through reading. A coach who reads will have a broader body of knowledge that can be applied to various situations and can make relevant reading material recommendations to you.

Storytelling: Good coaches know how to tell a good story. Stories are often effective because they make the coach’s message more powerful and because they tend to “stick.” Using stories and anecdotes allows the coach to hold your interest by painting vivid pictures to illustrate a point. Stories help to make coaching sessions both entertaining and memorable.

Trustworthiness: This is the key to any successful relationship. Without trust, progress cannot be made and objectives cannot be accomplished. Trust is a two-way street. The coachee needs to feel safe confiding in the coach and to trust the coach’s advice and judgment. The coach, in turn, needs to trust the coachee’s ability to listen, understand, and improve. To inspire trust, your coach must possess a high level of integrity, communicate openly, and demonstrate honesty.

Understanding: A good coach exhibits a high level of empathy and is able to put herself in your shoes. Your coach must try to identify with you and strive to imagine how she would feel if she were in your situation and faced the same challenges as you. A compassionate coach can give you credible and effective advice that is tailored to your unique personality and situation. An effective coach possesses the ability to feel your pain and rejoices wholeheartedly in your successes.

Visionary: A coach who has foresight can help you to create a more positive but realistic view of your future. By helping paint a picture of where you would like to see yourself, your coach can help to push you toward your long-term goals and aspirations. A visionary coach will help you to stay forward thinking and not get bogged down in day-to-day challenges to the point of losing sight of future plans.

Willingness to Help: A great coach constantly offers you support and encouragement for your personal development. This means always praising you for a job well done and never being condescending about your shortcomings. Anticipating your needs and concerns is also important to growing your success. A helpful coach is always approachable and is there for you in time of need. A great coach goes out of his way to make you feel that you can always appeal to her for help without feeling like you are bothering her.

eXcellent Sense of Humor: An ability to laugh and not to take anything too seriously is a characteristic of a good coach. Humor does wonders for raising the mood and lightening any situation. A coach with a strong sense of humor can help you to take the edge off stressful times and can make every coaching session enjoyable. Being able to laugh with your coach will help to build rapport between the two of you and to accelerate results.

Yearning for Discovery: An effective coach guides you on the journey of getting to understand yourself and truly enjoys the process of helping you to finding your latent strengths, uncovering hidden talents and connecting you with your deepest passions in life. To help you fulfill your potential, you need a coach who always wants to help you to learn more.

Zeal: An effective coach pushes you forward and shows a devotion to your cause. To make you successful, a coach must possess a contagious excitement and energy. Your coach’s enthusiasm will help you to maintain momentum and determination during difficult times and will help keep up your motivation even when things don’t seem to be going right.

Becoming aware of the criteria on which to judge your coach can help you to select one who will be best suited to you. Knowing what to look for in a coach will help you to find one who truly makes a difference in your growth as a professional, so you can become more confident and achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Bruce D. Stasch is the marketing manager at Work Effects. For more than 20 years, Work Effects has helped its clients build better leaders and more trustworthy organizations. Using tools such as its Trust & Capacity survey that focuses on organizational trust, its Revolution 360 that assesses leadership development, its PerformanceSUM, which measures and evaluates performance, and its Conflict Lens, which addresses conflict in the workplace, Work Effects helps organizations identify where they are having trust challenges and how best to alleviate them. For more information, visit

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