19 Critical Coaching Skills For Life Coaches and Leaders

19 Critical Coaching Skills For Life Coaches and Leaders

Want to become a better coach and improve your client success rates? Knowing what skills to strengthen is the key.

This article takes a look at the coaching skills involved in guiding, supporting, and empowering those you help. Use this guide to discover your strengths and weakness so that you focus your development efforts and coach others more effectively!

6 Essential Coaching Skills Every Life Coach Needs

As a life coach, your role involves supporting your clients to achieve specific outcomes or goals. Having a certain set of skills can help you accomplish this more effectively, so what do you need to develop?

According to experts, there are at least six skills that are essential to life coaching.[1]

Effective Communication

Clear, strong communication creates a solid foundation for the relationship between you and your client.

Communicating important concepts, frameworks, and exercises is an important part of guiding and supporting your coachees, and effective communication will also help you challenge their perspectives and enable them to work with clarity toward their goals.

To coach others effectivelu, you’ll need a good set of both verbal and non-verbal communication skills. We’ll cover exactly what coaching techniques you can use for smooth communication a little later on.

Asking Questions

The right questions can be game-changing when you ask them at the right time. As a coach, the questions you ask can challenge perspectives, reveal new possibilities, and trigger all kinds of behavioral change.

Our 43 Powerful Life Coaching Questions To Ask Your Clients article explores how you can use the best open-ended and follow-up questions for different stages of a coaching journey.

Fostering Awareness

For your clients, behavioral change starts with awareness of their current circumstances, patterns, beliefs, and actions. Fostering your client’s awareness as a coach allows them to choose new pathways and behaviors.

For your clients, behavioral change starts with awareness of their current circumstances, patterns, beliefs, and actions. Fostering your client’s awareness as a coach allows them to choose new pathways and behaviors; this can be done using a variety of coaching techniques:

  • Asking the right questions
  • Challenging perspectives and supporting new ones
  • Highlighting disparities between your client’s actions, emotions, and behaviors
  • Celebrating their wins and helping them identify their development points.

Building Engagement

Actively engaged clients make the best progress and are more likely to successfully achieve their goals.

Sharing feedback, recognizing accomplishments, and personalizing your client’s life coaching program are a few effective ways to keep them engaged, but you’ll find many more relevant tips in our How To Engage Clients In Therapy & Social Work resource.

Coaching Management

There’s coaching, and there’s running a coaching practice, which requires a completely different skill set.

Successful coaching management means manage your time, workflow, and behind-the-scenes work so that your business can grow successfully. Other skills in this area include knowing how to build your client list, designing coaching programs, and continually improving your services as you scale. Click here for some coaching management tools that can help you in this area.


If you want your coaching practice to be profitable and grow sustainably, you need to know how to market your offer. There are a lot of coach marketing skills that can help you promote your practice, but a few of them include planning a marketing strategy, nailing your coaching website, and knowing how to attract the right kinds of clients.

Training Skill Examples: Professional Development For Coaches

Like all skills, the life coaching competencies that you need to be effective can be developed. If you don’t see yourself as a particularly strong communicator or entrepreneur, the first step is to identify what skills you want to train.

Consider the following resources if you’re hoping to strengthen your life coaching skills:

Strengths Assessments

Strength assessments can helps you identify existing talents and skills, so you can focus on specific development areas.

By taking a simple test such as Quenza’s Strength Self-Reflective Questions, shown below, you can also understand how to utilize your strengths to achieve your professional coaching goals.

Strengths Self-Reflective Questions Quenza Expansion screenshot
Quenza’s Strengths Self-Reflective Questions coaching exercise is an example of a strengths assessment that you can use to better understand your existing life coaching skills.

Developing Coaching Skills

We have a host of resources at Quenza to help you coach others more effectively. Here are a few articles you may want to look at:

In addition to these resources, make sure to download our 30-page online coaching guide: Coach, This Changes Everything.

This free 30-page PDF was specifically created for online life coaches that want a practical guide for delivering coaching sessions.

Alongside plenty of practical ways to improve your coaching management, this guide shows you how you can scale up with one-to-many programs such as life coaching packages, workshops, and e-courses:

blue cover image of online life coaching guide pdf

Click here to download your free copy of Coach, This Changes Everything.

8 Critical Communication Skills for Leaders and Managers

If you’re a manager or leader, strong communication skills play a big part in how your employees will benefit from coaching.

Developing the following skill sets is a good way to make sure you have the biggest possible positive impact when you’re coaching your colleagues in the workplace.

Active Listening

Listening is more of a skill set than a single coaching skill. The ability to listen actively will help you understand your clients’ context and emotions, which may not always be expressed in words.

Here’s a list of the coaching techniques employed by coaches with strong active listening skills:

  1. Paraphrasing: Using your own words to repeat back your coachee has expressed.
  2. Summarizing: Recapping what your client has told you to demonstrate your understanding.
  3. Affirming: Acknowledging, congratulating, or encouraging your client to build up their confidence and morale.
  4. Clarifying: Checking and confirming what your client says to ensure that you’re on the same page.
  5. Reflecting: Mirroring back what your client says to demonstrate understanding.

Non-Verbal Communication

Communication encompasses a non-verbal element, too.

Knowing how to leverage the following in coaching conversations can help you build trust and rapport with your client:

  1. Silence: Strategic silences give your coachee time and space to think, especially after you have asked a thought-provoking or open-ended question. It can also invite them to expand on what they have said and invite new perspectives into the conversation.
  2. Eye contact: An important way to show that you are focused and paying attention, both in person and online.
  3. Body language: Gestures, nods, and facial expressions can all communicate that you’re focused on what your client says, and encourage them to open up and share.

Social and Soft Skills To Have On Your Resume

If you’re a leader applying for a role that involves coaching, making your soft skills known will help potential employers learn more about you.

The same applies if you’re a professional coach who wants to communicate your coaching philosophy to attract and appeal to the right type of clients.

On top of communication skills and awareness, here’s a list of social and soft skills that are highly relevant in coaching:

  1. Emotional intelligence: Coaching is generally more successful when you and your coachee both have the self-awareness and self-regulation required for smooth communication.[2]
  2. Creativity: This helps you think of new actions that can help your coachee achieve their goals. Creatively brainstorming is a useful way to invite clients to find, explore, and apply different solutions to their challenges and decide what worksare best for them in their circumstances.
  3. Problem-solving: This skill helps you work with clients to analyze scenarios, come up with creative solutions, and make informed decisions.
  4. Empathy: This helps you better understand your client and cultivate a strong working relationship. When you can see your client’s problems and beliefs as they do, you’re in a better position to challenge their thinking.
  5. Assertiveness: Life coaching involves challenging, encouraging, and empowering your clients to take responsibility for their desired change. You need to be able to express your thoughts effectively when appropriate, in a way that is confident and impactful.

Are Coaching and Mentoring The Same Thing?

Despite having many similarities, coaching and mentoring in the workplace are two distinct processes:[3]

  • Mentoring is when a more experienced colleague supports a less experienced staff member’s development by sharing their knowledge. It is typically a relatively long-term relationship.
  • Coaching aims to help an employee achieve specific goals, develop skills, or realize optimal performance. A coaching relationship typically lasts for a set period of time or forms part of a leader’s natural style.

Strong communication skills such as listening, clarifying, and questioning are important to both approaches, although mentoring relationships may not typically involve the use of coaching frameworks.

If you’re planning to implement a coaching or mentoring program in your organization, take a look at our review of the 3 Best Online Coaching and Mentoring Software Programs.

Final Thoughts

Knowing what skills you need to develop is the first step to becoming a better coach or leader. Fortunately, there are many resources to help you strengthen your communication, coaching management, or whatever you’re looking to focus on.

This article is only a starting point to improving your impact and making a bigger difference in your clients’ lives – if you’re ready to try your hand at designing and delivering your life coaching programs, start your $1, 30-day Quenza trial for everything you need.


About the author

Catherine specializes in Organizational and Positive Psychology, helping entrepreneurs, clinical psychologists and OD specialists grow their businesses by simplifying their digital journeys.

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