Different Types of Coaching Styles

Different Types of Coaching Styles: A Detailed Overview

Knowing about the different types of coaching styles gives you an edge over your competitors.

You can develop an adaptive skill set that you can use to solve your client’s problems. You will know which style is appropriate for which situation, as each coaching style has unique characteristics.

With this knowledge, you can adapt your approach to fit the client’s needs. As a result, you can positively impact the coaching relationship that ensures client satisfaction.

This article provides a list of coaching styles with pros and cons so you can guide your client with what’s best for the situation.

But before proceeding with the list, let’s see how coaching styles have evolved over the years.

How Different Coaching Styles Have Evolved Over the Years

The evolution of coaching styles signifies the change occurring in the coaching field. Over the years, coaching styles have evolved because of societal norms, technological advancements, and a deeper understanding of human psychology. 

Let’s explore how coaching styles have evolved.

Historical Perspective

In the early days of coaching, coaching styles often leaned toward autocratic and hierarchical approaches. Coaches acted as authoritative figures with all the answers, and people followed directives without question.

The Rise of Democratic Coaching

As societies became more democratic and inclusive, coaching also evolved. The democratic coaching style started to emphasize collaboration and shared decision-making. This rise gave clients a more active role in the coaching process.

Technology and Virtual Coaching

The introduction of technology also impacted the coaching sector. Virtual coaching through digital platforms like CoachPodium has become more prevalent. This shift encourages coaches like you to adapt to the digital landscape, maintaining the essence of coaching and mastering remote communication skills.

Personalized Coaching

There has been a growing trend toward personalized coaching experiences in recent years. Coaches have started tailoring their approaches to meet each client’s unique needs. This personalization involves customizing the relationship, goal-setting and feedback mechanism aspects.

Now, without further delay, let’s dive into the list of different types of coaching styles.

List of Coaching Styles

Let’s dive into the individual styles with pros and cons to give you perspective on what to choose and for what purpose.

Autocratic Style

Autocratic Coaching Style

In the autocratic coaching style, you take a directive role. In this style, you make decisions unilaterally and provide specific instructions to your client. 

It’s often used when you possess extensive knowledge and experience to make swift decisions. Clients in this style may feel uncomfortable because you do not include them in decision-making.

Primarily, this style is effective in team sports like football. Football Coach Nick Saban used this style of coaching and has 6 National Championship wins under his belt.


  • Provides clear and decisive action, leading to quick resolutions.
  • Provides clear structure and rules for efficient project execution.
  • Gives you full responsibility for decisions and outcomes.


  • Discourages creativity. 
  • Leads to resistance from clients who value autonomy.
  • Not able to adapt to complex or dynamic situations.

Democratic Style

Democratic Coaching Style

The democratic coaching style characterizes collaboration and inclusiveness. You actively involve your clients in decision-making and encourage their input. This kind of style is suitable in educational settings or team-building exercises.

In this coaching style, you are open to feedback and are willing to share power and authority with clients.

In sports, this type of coaching style is suitable for individual sports, such as tennis, as the player needs more control in training. However, you can use this style in team sports as well.

Mike Krzyzewski, author of the book “Leading with the Heart” used a democratic coaching style to coach Duke University’s men’s basketball team.

Read the related article: 10 Best Coaching Books for Aspiring and Experienced Coaches.


  • Empowers and engages clients in the coaching process.
  • Encourages diverse viewpoints and creativity.
  • Allows clients to take ownership of decisions and outcomes.


  • Makes decision-making a time-consuming process because of everyone’s involvement.
  • Leads to inefficiencies.
  • Leads to conflict or disagreement in the group.

Transformational Style

Transformational Coaching Style

The transformational coaching style goes beyond achieving immediate goals. It focuses on inspiring personal and professional growth, encouraging people to reach their full potential. This style is often used in life coaching and personal development scenarios.

You can learn more about life coaching here: Understanding What A Life Coach Is: The Journey To Self Discovery.

In this approach, you serve as a role model to promote a culture of integrity, fairness, and high expectations.

Life coaches widely use the transformational style to help clients to achieve personal goals, to improve relationships, and to assist in career transition.

Coaches like Tony Robbins and  Dr. Wayne Dyer use this style in their practice.


  • Fosters personal development and self-awareness.
  • Motivates people to surpass their limitations.
  • Leads to long-lasting positive changes in client’s lives.


  • Requires a substantial time commitment.
  • May be uncomfortable for some people due to deep introspection.
  • Not ideal for addressing immediate or specific issues.

Solution-Focused Style

Solution Focused Coaching Style

The solution-focused coaching style centers on identifying and implementing practical solutions to challenges. It’s particularly effective in problem-solving and achieving quick results. You can use this style in business coaching when your clients have a clear goal but need guidance.

This coaching style is collaborative, which empowers clients as they actively engage in decision-making processes.

The solution-focused style is widely used when clients need to develop leadership skills, as this style focuses on developing action plans. Coaches like Marilyn Atkinson (founder of Erickson Coach International), Tony Robbins and many others use this approach.


  • Focuses on actionable solutions that lead to swift problem resolution.
  • Emphasizes positive and future-oriented thinking.
  • Suitable for situations like crisis management.


  • May overlook underlying issues in pursuit of quick fixes.
  • Not ideal for personal or professional growth at a deeper level.
  • Increases the client’s dependency on you.

Laissez-Faire Style

Laissez Faire Coaching Style

The laissez-faire coaching style is a minimal intervention approach. It allows your clients significant autonomy and independence in decision-making and problem-solving. This style is ideal for self-motivated clients who prefer to set their own pace and direction.

In this style, you require a keen sense of observation to know when to intervene and offer guidance.

This style is effective when your client belongs to the creative industry, such as art, design, music, etc. You can also use the laissez-faire style for experienced athletes and start-up entrepreneurs.


  • Empowers clients to explore and discover solutions independently.
  • Encourages people to take full ownership of their actions and outcomes.
  • Promotes creativity and innovation.


  • Leads to unproductive or chaotic coaching sessions due to a lack of structure.
  • Leads to accountability issues where people are not responsible for outcomes.
  • Not suitable for those who require substantial guidance.

Holistic Style

Holistic Coaching Method

Holistic coaching takes a comprehensive approach, considering an individual’s mind, body, and spirit. With this style, you aim to create a balanced and harmonious life for your client. You focus on their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. 

You use this style for the client’s personal and professional growth. It is effective for people looking for balance in their lives due to stress and burnout.

This style uses compassion, self-awareness, and emotional intelligence to improve the client’s well-being and manage stress.

Alyssa Nobriga, the founder of The Institute of Coaching Mastery, uses a holistic approach in her coaching practice.


  • Recognizes that everyone’s goals and needs are unique, thus employing personalized methods.
  • Encourages lasting lifestyle changes and habits.
  • Addresses emotional and mental aspects in addition to tangible goals.


  • Requires significant time commitment to explore multiple facets of life.
  • Challenging to address various aspects simultaneously.
  • Not suitable for highly specific or time-sensitive goals.

Mindfulness Style

Mindfulness Coaching Style

You incorporate meditation and self-awareness to help your client manage stress, improve focus, and achieve clarity in their goals. This style lets clients know their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

You encourage your client to observe their sensations without judgment, which relates to the Buddhist tradition.

Mindfulness style takes the principle of positive psychology, which you use to work on a client’s physical and mental well-being. Many coaches, including famous coach Robin Sharma, use this approach in his coaching.


  • Equips your client with tools to reduce stress and enhance mental clarity.
  • Improves concentration and helps the client stay present in the moment.
  • Helps to build emotional intelligence and resilience.


  • Requires time and commitment for regular mindfulness practice.
  • Takes longer to experience significant benefits.
  • Suited for individuals interested in mindfulness and self-awareness.

Zen Style

Zen Coaching Style

Zen coaching draws inspiration from Eastern philosophy, which emphasizes living in the present moment and finding inner peace and harmony. This style is particularly effective for clients seeking spiritual growth or those looking to manage stress through meditation.

This style leans towards a more philosophical and spiritual approach. However, the Zen style closely resembles the mindfulness style with slight variation.

This style works with the inner self of the client. You guide them to notice, allow, and be aware of their experience in the present moment. Alex Mill, the founder of Zen Life Coaching, uses the Zen coaching style.


  • Aids in stress reduction and cultivating calmness.
  • Helps your client gain clarity in their goals and priorities.
  • Promotes inner peace and a sense of balance.


  • Hard to resonate with individuals unfamiliar with Eastern philosophies.
  • Takes time to grasp Zen principles initially.
  • Not suitable for individuals who want quick results.

Selecting the Right Coaching Style

Selecting the right coaching style is a crucial decision that can significantly impact the success of a coaching relationship. It requires a thoughtful approach, considering various factors to ensure alignment between the chosen style and the client’s needs and goals. 

Here are vital considerations when selecting the right coaching style:

Client’s Needs

The first step in style selection is understanding your client’s personality, preferences, and specific coaching goals. Are they seeking guidance in a particular skill, personal growth, or career advancement? Tailor your coaching style to align with these needs.

Coaching Goals

The nature of the coaching engagement plays a vital role in style selection. Is your goal to develop a specific skill? Overcome a challenge or achieve a broader personal transformation? Different styles are better suited to different objectives.


Consider the context in which coaching takes place. Do you want to use it in a corporate setting, sports, personal development, or a combination? Each context may favor a particular coaching style based on its norms and requirements.

Your Expertise

Evaluate your proficiency and comfort level with different coaching styles. Select a style that aligns with the client’s needs and fits your expertise.

Customizing Coaching Styles

No single coaching style fits all scenarios or all clients. Customizing your coaching style to suit the individual needs of each client is essential. This customization involves understanding the client’s personality, goals, and challenges and adapting your approach accordingly.

For example, a highly self-motivated client may benefit more from a laissez-faire approach. In contrast, someone who needs more structure might respond better to an autocratic style. The key is flexibility and a willingness to adapt.

Here are some key points for customizing coaching styles.

  • Blend and combine elements from multiple coaching styles to create a tailored approach.
  • As per the changing circumstances and client’s needs, adapt and update the coaching approach.
  • Frequent check-ins with clients to ensure the coaching styles align with their goals.
  • Continuous client assessment to know if the progress is within the boundary; if not, you can choose different types of coaching styles.
  • Be flexible to step out of your comfort zone and explore new approaches to fulfill the client’s needs.


Coaching is a dynamic and versatile field with different styles to choose from. The evolution of coaching styles reflects the changing landscape of society, technology, and personal development. Today, coaching is more inclusive, personalized, and adaptable than ever before.

As we navigate this diverse world of coaching, the key to successful coaching is providing a style that aligns with your client’s goals and values. By doing so, individuals and organizations can focus on profound personal and professional growth.

If you want to refine your approach, the world of coaching styles offers various options. When you embrace the art of customization in coaching experience, it resonates with your vision and boosts your career.

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