Coaching Styles; are you using them correctly?

Do you want the best outcome possible in your coaching?  If so, you may be interested to learn that your coaching style may have much to do with your results. In order to achieve positive coaching outcomes with your clients, you must understand, select and use the most appropriate coaching styles to suit your clients' particular situations.

Here we'll discuss three fundamental coaching styles or approaches.

1) Directive
2) Facilitative
3) Blended or Co-creative

Directive Coaching

The first approach or directive style of coaching can be described as "pushing" your client. In this approach, the coach takes the leading role. This means that the coach will offer guidance and instruction, provide added information and create awareness.

In Christian coaching, this can also mean offering scriptural support and allowing the Holy Spirit to direct the coaching sessions as well as your client. (A coach who is unsure about their own faith and Biblical knowledge may feel insecure with this approach.)

Facilitative Coaching

The second style is the facilitative approach. In this style of coaching, the coach helps their client to take the leading role. To do this, the coach creates a supportive environment. The coach encourages the client taking responsibility. The coach also promotes motivation and requests that the client make a commitment to the process. This approach is more like "pulling" your client.

The facilitative approach is most like the original, old-school type of coaching. While the tactics used in facilitative coaching are beneficial to support the client, ultimately the value may not be as great if used without adding directive coaching as needed.

In today's day, coaches are hired for their knowledge and expertise as well as support. You need to be able to do more than ask great questions. This means, you must be at least one step ahead of your clients so that you can act as a directive coach when needed.

There is an existing school of thought among some Christian coaches who believe it is not the coach's job to hear from God on behalf of their client. Rather, it is the coach's job to facilitate the client hearing from God for themselves. While this is certainly a desired outcome, the coach cannot and should not control, manipulate or stand in the way of how God communicates with their client. (Taught in our Certified Christian Professional Life Coach course.)

A mature Christian knows that God has many ways of relaying messages to us. It may be by way of scripture or during prayer. It may take the form of a still, small voice or a dream. But I know from first-hand experience that sometimes, God speaks to one person who then needs to share the message with another.

There have been many times in coaching sessions where I have received a special "word" for my client and in order to remain obedient to God, I knew I had to deliver it. Many of the coaches we have trained cite similar experiences. Usually this knowing seemingly comes out of nowhere and the client is instantly astounded by its relevance to their unspoken thought, feeling or situation.

If you get a “word” for your client, here is what to do. First, ask your client if you have their permission to share what you are sensing. With their approval, tell them in the same words that you received the “word” or knowing. Then be silent as you wait for their response. Do not try to over-explain or clarify. The client will know what they need and draw their own conclusions. Remember, your job is to deliver the message, not translate it.

Blended or co-creative coaching

This is my favorite and I tend to flow in this during most of my client sessions. I pray before and during my coaching sessions. Depending upon the situation, the client and I may pray together or we may each pray silently. In this style, the client generally arrives with their goals and agenda for what they would like to accomplish during the call. This means we are in agreement on the desired outcome of the call but we leave the "how" up to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

During our time together, we make amazing progress and as the coaching session flows freely, God is right at the center… supplying wisdom, knowledge and revelation to both of us. It is nothing short of exhilarating!

A trained and skillful Christian coach will understand when to use each of these approaches because all three are useful. They will be able to move from one style to another as they are led.

Here are some suggestions:

1) Review your recent coaching sessions and consider whether you have taken more of a directive, facilitative or co-creative approach.

2) What are some implications of your coaching preferences?

3) How can your client benefit from each of these styles?

4) Is there anything you would like to change about your coaching style?

5) Ask God for wisdom, knowledge and revelation in your own sessions.

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Leelo Bush Ph.D. 0417

Leelo Bush Ph.D.

Leelo Bush, PhD is recognized globally as a Christian Coaching thought leader, training curriculum creator, speaker, host of the Christian Coaching School Podcast on iTunes, innovator and marketplace ministry and training expert. Discover your hidden potential with her FREE 5-Minute Success Predictor Quiz at

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