Understanding Strategy Coaching: How Businesses Use Coaching to Gain a Competitive Edge

From solo operators to large multinational corporations, businesses that succeed in the current economic landscape are those that leverage strategic insights to plan and execute their operations.

Strategic thinking—the art of seeing and understanding the bigger picture of an organization, where it needs to go, and how to get there [1]—is the difference between releasing a product or service and hoping for the best, versus thoughtfully executing an adaptable plan that’s designed to succeed.

Put simply, strategic thinking allows for a clearer vision of future possibilities, which enables the development of plans to effectively turn those opportunities into reality. It also enables businesses to spot risks ahead of time and avoid costly mistakes.

Clearly, strategic planning is something most organizations and business owners could benefit from. But the challenge is, most managers and leaders are so caught up in day-to-day operations that they can’t find the time or bandwidth to plan for the future.

That’s where a strategy coach comes in.

Strategy coaches have been helping organizations stay ahead of the competition for decades. And many savvy coaches are now including this lucrative and professionally rewarding service in their suite of offers.

In this article, we’ll explain what a strategy coach is, what type of clients they usually work with, and common roles and responsibilities.

In addition, we’ll cover how Quenza, a software platform designed specifically for coaches, can streamline your operations as a strategy coach.

Keep reading to find out more. Or if you want to dive right in and give Quenza a try now, you can sign up today for a full-access 1-month trial for only $1.

Plan, Decide, Implement

With all the different types of coaches operating these days, many people still ask the question, “What is a strategy coach?”

With the increasing complexity of business environments, requiring improved cognitive skills and capabilities, the concept of strategy coaching has evolved over the years. Although similar in some aspects to life coaches or executive coaches, a strategy coach distinctly focuses on improving strategic thinking and decision-making abilities.

In short, a strategy coach can be defined as:

A professional who helps individuals and organizations improve their ability to think strategically, make better decisions, and implement their plans.

While strategy coaches don’t typically help with the practical implementation of plans, this crucial aspect should always be at the forefront of their minds.

Strategy can only be effective when it’s put into practice. And in essence, the end “product” of working with a strategy coach is the plan being put into action. 

What Does a Strategy Coach Do?

Strategy coaches engage with individuals and organizations in a range of ways to improve the ability to think strategically.

Their responsibilities often involve:

  • Facilitating brainstorming sessions
  • Identifying opportunities and strengths
  • Helping set strategic goals
  • Outlining future aspirations
  • Anticipating and managing risks
  • Developing a structured roadmap to achieve change
  • Acting as a leadership coach sounding board for business owners

The contribution of a strategy coach often has a far-reaching impact. It leads to the enhancement of decision-making processes and improved motivation. Which in turn, fosters an environment conducive to innovation and better alignment with future trends and opportunities.

Key Qualities of a Strategy Coach

What makes a good strategy coach can be summed up through a list of several key qualities.

The best strategy coaches tend to have:

  • Strong communication skills [2]
  • The ability to inspire and motivate
  • Good analytical and systems thinking abilities
  • Well-developed leadership skills[3]
  • A deep understanding of business and strategic concepts
  • Relevant practical experience
  • Genuine desire to understand their client’s challenges [4]

Furthermore, emotional intelligence – the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically – is seen as a vital trait in a successful strategy coach [5]

While it’s not mandatory to have a formal coaching certification to work as a strategy coach, most successful practitioners do become certified. Not only does certification ensure that you keep your skills up to date. It also signals to clients that you meet a minimum threshold of competency and are operating as a legitimate coaching professional.

Who Do Strategy Coaches Work With?

Strategy coaching can be beneficial to a wide range of individuals and organizations. And there really is no limit to who a strategy coach is for.

Strategy coaching is particularly relevant for leaders, managers, and executives who shoulder the responsibility of making strategic decisions that impact their organizations.

Moreover, companies undergoing transitions, either through expansion, downsizing, or reorganization, or facing substantial business challenges, can gain significant insights from a strategy coach’s expertise. This aids in streamlining processes, mitigating risks, and fostering a strategic approach toward overcoming these challenges.

The utility of strategy coaching is not confined to a particular industry. Its principles have been applied and proven effective across a wide array of sectors, from finance and technology to healthcare and education [6]

Finally, strategy coaches don’t just work with large organizations. They also frequently work with solo entrepreneurs.

Some examples of how strategy coaching might be used by solo or small entrepreneurial operators include:

  • A life coach employing a strategy coach to craft their unique selling proposition and launch strategy for an online course
  • A therapist seeking assistance from a strategy coach to position and market themselves in the competitive online telehealth space
  • An occupational therapist engaging a strategy coach to help design and launch an app to disrupt the way rehabilitation services are delivered

Strategy Coaching Tools

With the examples above, you might be wondering how strategy coaching actually works (especially online).

The truth is, most strategy coaches use a comprehensive coaching platform and several digital coaching tools to operate their practice.

Quenza is one such platform, with a variety of innovative features to help strategy coaches in their daily operations.

Designed specifically for coaches just like you, Quenza makes it a breeze to:

  • Create your own exercises with the drag-and-drop activity builder, then assign them to clients anywhere in the world
  • Utilize our extensive Expansions Library, with 250+ ready-to-use customizable forms, tools, and exercises
  • Save, share, and comment on client notes
  • Run group coaching programs hosted securely on the platform, with Quenza Groups
  • Send a fully automated series of activities to clients, called pathways
  • Operate a group coaching practice
To try Quenza out today, sign up now for a full-access 1-month trial now for only $1.

Learning How to Think Strategically

Many people wonder if strategic thinking can be taught. This is an important question. Because so much of what we do as coaches relies on growth and learning in both the client and coach. 

Fortunately, contrary to popular belief, strategic thinking is not an inborn trait.

Research shows that strategic thinking is a skill that can be taught, learned, and improved upon. And perhaps more importantly, it’s a skill that can be enhanced through specific methods, exercises, and training programs [7]

It’s these teaching and training methods—often involving activities that promote analysis, synthesis, creativity, and critical thinking—that form the bedrock of strategic coaching.

So, next time someone asks, “Can strategic thinking be taught?” You can explain that with the right mindset and resources, individuals and organizations can significantly enhance their strategic thinking capabilities, leading to more informed and effective decision-making.

The Strategic Coaching Process

The process of how to coach strategic thinking isn’t overly different from other coaching methodologies. And as always, there’s room for differences in individual styles and tailored approaches according to a client’s needs.

In general, the strategic coaching process involves:

  1. Assessment. Initially, the strategy coach must evaluate the individual’s or team’s existing strategic thinking skills. This provides a baseline for the coaching process and enables the identification of areas requiring development.

Strategy coaches who use Quenza love our ready-to-use assessment and intake forms.

To fast-track the assessment phase with a new client, you can use our Business Coaching Intake Form exactly as it is. Or customize it to suit the exact needs of you and your clients.

  • Planning. Following this assessment, the coach devises a personalized development plan tailored to address the unique needs and objectives of the individual or team. Goal setting and identifying risks or barriers feature heavily in this phase.
  • Learning. Regular coaching sessions are then conducted to develop the skills needed to implement the plan. These sessions typically employ a variety of interactive techniques, such as brainstorming, role-playing, case studies, and feedback discussions, all of which are designed to stimulate strategic thinking.
  • Implementation. A significant aspect of coaching strategic thinking lies in facilitating the practical application of the skills learned. Therefore, strategy coaches often provide opportunities for individuals or teams to apply their improved strategic thinking abilities in real-world situations. This reinforces learning and drives home the practical benefits of strategic thinking.
  • Review. A crucial phase of strategic coaching is reviewing the implementation of the plan. Without this, there’s no way to know if your input has actually been effective, which may leave your clients with underwhelming results. Often, when progress was initially not at the level expected, a slight tweak in something picked up in review can make all the difference.

One of the barriers to review, often expressed by coaches, is that they don’t know what to ask or don’t have time to create evaluation tools.

Quenza solves these problems by giving you access to dozens of customizable evaluation forms, like the Effectiveness of Session Evaluation.

Plus, we’ve built intelligent tools into the platform that let you track, manage, and present your clients’ results.

Strategy Coach Exercises and Activities

To enhance strategic thinking abilities, strategy coaches deploy a diverse range of exercises and activities.

2 common examples are SWOT analysis and scenario planning exercises.

SWOT Analysis

A popular exercise includes the strategy coach guiding clients through a SWOT analysis, which entails a thorough assessment of:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

Once completed, the SWOT analysis serves as a solid foundation upon which informed planning can be used to address the strategic objectives of an individual or business.

In the 250+ activities and exercises in Quenza’s Expansions library, you’ll find countless coaching worksheets to use as part of a SWOT analysis. The Strengths Profile Self-Reflection is a great example of a tool that can be used in the beginning stage of SWOT.

And don’t forget, you can get access to our entire Expansions Library and all the other features of Quenza, by signing up now for a full-access 1-month trial now for only $1.

Scenario Planning Exercises

The opportunities for scenario planning exercises are endless.

Basically, anything that helps clients explore potential future situations with forethought, planning, and strategic decision-making is suitable.

A simple game of chess can stimulate key strategic thinking skills, like problem identification, analysis, creativity, and decision-making. Similarly, a half-day workshop with a team dedicated to mapping out their goals and vision would develop strategic thinking skills.

By engaging in strategic planning activities, individuals and teams can progressively sharpen their strategic thinking abilities, facilitate more informed decision-making and better anticipate future trends and challenges.

Many of the goal-setting activities in Quenza are great for scenario planning.

As an example, a strategy coach might assign the Realizing Long-Lasting Change by Setting Process Goals in a workshop. This would get team members to brainstorm ideas about how, individually and collectively, they could build habits to help their organization succeed.

Specializing In Business Coaching

Many coaches choose to specialize in business coaching. When this overlaps with strategy, a practitioner may refer to themselves as a business strategy coach.

A business strategy coach is a specialist whose main area of expertise lies in helping businesses refine their strategic thinking capabilities and improve their decision-making processes. Their role is critical in determining the strategic direction of a company, aligning it with market trends, industry shifts, and potential opportunities.

By providing insightful guidance from a deep understanding of business strategy, these coaches can significantly enhance a company’s competitive edge, aiding in sustained growth and success.

Moreover, a business strategy coach’s contribution extends beyond the executive team. It can influence the entire organization’s strategic culture, fostering an environment conducive to strategic thinking at all levels.

If you are interested in learning more about other coaching styles take a look at this article.

A Guiding Light During Times of Change

Effectively navigating change is something organizations (especially those that are large and/or spread across several regions) often struggle with immensely. And this presents a great opportunity for strategy coaches to assist.

Times when coaching for change is important are:

  • Periods of substantial organizational change, such as mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations
  • Significant market shifts
  • When a business is experiencing rapid growth
  • During challenging times, such as regulatory change or labor market shortages

In such periods, a strategy coach’s expertise can provide much-needed guidance, helping individuals and organizations anticipate, prepare for, and effectively respond to the ensuing changes. They assist in outlining a strategic approach to navigate these changes, thus mitigating potential risks and leveraging emerging opportunities.

Employees often struggle immensely to adapt to change. So in some cases, a strategy coach may need to go down to the individual level to make progress.

If you find yourself in this situation, our Finding Silver Linings activity is an exercise you can assign to individual team members. This helps them see the positives (or opportunities, from the SWOT framework) of change, which can increase buy-in during times of organizational growth or upheaval.

The ROI On Strategy Coaching

There’s no standard way to quantify the return on investment (ROI) on strategy coaching. As the operations of each business and techniques used by coaches vary so widely.

But, when a client asks, “Is a strategy coach worth it?” Giving them an overview of the benefits of strategy coaching can be helpful.

The key benefits of strategy coaching include:

  • The ability to navigate the future with enhanced foresight, creativity, and confidence
  • Having an impartial advisor to point out “blind spots” that you may otherwise have missed
  • Clarity to define your unique vision of leadership and success
  • Creating a detailed plan to achieve business goals, with an accountability partner to keep you on track

Final Thoughts

To conclude, a strategy coach can give business owners and organizations an important competitive edge in any marketplace.

Strategy coaches help people understand the bigger picture of their business and the wider economy. And in doing so, they develop a clearer understanding of future possibilities and risks.

Once a business’s strategic objectives are clarified, a strategy coach works with key individuals to develop and implement an intelligent, forward-thinking plan. Then, they work with the organization to evaluate the strategy and adjust if required.

As demand for strategy coaching grows, an increasing number of practitioners are moving into this rewarding and lucrative area.

If you’d like to start offering strategy coaching, Quenza’s purpose-built software platform can have you up and running in no time.

Our slick interface and giant library of digital tools are ideally suited to working with corporate clients, where presentation and professionalism are of utmost importance.

To get access to the entire Quenza platform today, sign up now for a full-access 1-month trial now for only $1.


  1. ^ University of Florida. (n.d.). Maximize your leadership potential: Create & communicate vision. https://training.hr.ufl.edu/resources/LeadershipToolkit/job_aids/strategic_thinking.pdf (Accessed: 07 July 2023).
  2. ^ Harvard Business Review. (2015). Turning great strategy into great performance. https://hbr.org/2005/07/turning-great-strategy-into-great-performance (Accessed: 07 July 2023).
  3. ^ Harvard Business Review. (2023). The leader as coach. https://hbr.org/2019/11/the-leader-as-coach (Accessed: 07 July 2023).
  4. ^ Gatling, A. (2014). The Authentic Leadership Qualities of Business Coaches and its Impact on Coaching Performance. DOAJ (DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals). https://doaj.org/article/418afd3e632b42e6ba24798585e6074d.
  5. ^ Goleman, D. (2006) Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books.
  6. ^ Berman, W.H., & Bradt, G. (2006). Executive coaching and consulting: “Different strokes for different folks”. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 37(3), pp. 244–253. doi:10.1037/0735-7028.37.3.244.
  7. ^ Liedtka, J.M. (1998) ‘Strategic thinking: Can it be taught?’, Long Range Planning, 31(1), pp. 120–129. doi:10.1016/s0024-6301(97)00098-8.

About the author

Eamon is an ex-social worker turned freelance writer, from Perth, Western Australia. Eamon has worked as a clinical social worker for 15 years, in several positions across the healthcare, justice, disability, substance misuse, and mental health systems.

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