A life coach can come from a range of different backgrounds. They can either be focused on specific areas like business, career, or fitness, or take a more general approach and address a wider range of concerns for their clients. Depending on their area of expertise, a life coach will require different skills, however, there are some skills that need to be learned and developed to improve the effectiveness of working with clients and allow coaches to run a successful life coaching practice.
Wether you’re a coach looking to up your game or a client searching for a coach that will fit your needs, we have created a list of 7 traits to look out for that make up a successful life coach:
HONEST, TRUSTWORTHY, AND AUTHENTIC
Life coaching is a collaborative profession in which the coach and client work closely together to reach outcomes that meet the client’s needs. The coaching relationship depends greatly on trust, if the coach is not honest and authentic, then trust is not built, and if there’s no trust, there’s no relationship with the client.
A coach should not be a walking textbook, they’re not only providing instructions, tools, exercises, and best practices, instead, they’re creating an experience for the client that will make them comfortable enough to bring up their own complex and emotionally challenging experiences. To do that, a coach must also be able to comfortably speak their own truth, honestly and authentically, without attaching themselves to an outcome. They must be able to show up genuinely in their own unique way and tell their story without trying to be someone they’re not. This can be especially difficult to do as a coach since coaches want to present themselves in a certain way and are expected to be unapologetically positive, which can be met with scepticism and mistrust from the client.
It is important to remember that a coach must always trust what feels honest to them and not be caught up in the what a coach should look like. They should do what works for them and come from a place of giving without worrying if the client will like them or not. This ability to show up authentically, tell their story, and not be influenced by external factors also expresses where the coach is in their own life journey. By creating a strong rapport with the client that’s based on trust and honesty, the client is more likely to understand that the coach is there to help them grow and achieve their goals, and thus will be more open to share and talk about their experiences.
PASSIONATE, PRESENT, AND FOCUSED ON THE CLIENT
At its foundation, a life coach’s purpose is to serve people. To be a successful life coach is to be passionate about helping others, and to do that, a coach must be present, empathetic, and focused on providing unparalleled value to their client. The love and excitement that comes from their passion to help others is what fuels the coaching sessions and inspires the client to show up and express themselves authentically. By being present and self-aware, a coach is able to come from a place that is calm and focused which allows them to hold space for their client and understand their emotions and barriers to success and in turn help them grow and progress further in their journey.
It is important to note that a coach is also human and deals with their own struggles. Since coaching sessions usually contain heavy content, if a coach is distracted and not able to focus on what the client is saying, important issues can be missed and the coach would not be able to provide the client with the appropriate help that they are seeking.
A successful life coach must also be passionate about self-development and helping their clients rewrite their story and create their own rules. To achieve this, a coach must be extremely proficient at personal development, both in theory and in practice; they must have successfully applied the self-development tools they offer to their clients for themselves first. If a coach is excited about personal development and passionate about seeing their clients succeed, then the coaching sessions become fun and productive.
MAINTAINS A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AND COMMUNICATES EFFECTIVELY AND CONFIDENTLY
A successful life coach must be able to inspire their clients and spark a state of positivity in them by maintaining a positive attitude during the coaching sessions and communicating it effectively and confidently on many levels through body language, posture, tone, and vocabulary. In order to do this authentically, a good coach would have resolved most of their emotional issues, and is able to represent the principles of self-development in their daily life and lead a healthy lifestyle.
A successful life coach would be able to deal with issues that come up in a healthy way in order for them to do the same for their clients. Since the coaching sessions usually have emotionally heavy content to unpack, a coach must be happy, vibrant, and positive to uplift and recreate that same energy in their clients. Positive energy attracts more positive energy, and a successful life coach would be able to feel that energy deeply and express it through their words, posture, and gestures to bring it out of their clients as well.
For a coach to be able to successfully communicate their positivity, they need to be confident in their delivery. If the coach is not confident, the client will not trust them. This doesn’t mean that the coach must have all the answers, instead, it’s about knowing what they can and cannot do for their clients. A confident coach is a coach that is honest about where they are in their life coaching journey. It’s about knowing their strengths and weaknesses and being able to refer their client to someone else if they cannot help them. Confidence is about putting the client’s needs before their own.
OBSERVES AND ACTIVELY LISTENS TO THE CLIENT
A fundamental part of coaching is actively listening and observing what the client is saying in order to help them create a custom game plan to move forward and crush their goals. Being able to truly listen to a client means being able to listen to what is not being said. When meeting a coach, more often than not, a client may say a lot but hides information from the coach due to feelings of embarrassment, shame, guilt, fear, etc. Therefore, a coach must be able to actively listen and observe verbal and non-verbal cues in the client’s tone and presentation to help them find a solution to their problems. A coach must also be able to create a safe environment for the client to feel comfortable enough to share information that could be crucial to identifying the problem.
A successful life coach can pick up on the signs of worry, uncertainty and fear and then provide tangible steps in order for the client to resolve the problem. Even though clients may present similar problems and needs, a good life coach understands that each client has gone through their own individual experiences and needs a tailored game plan to reach their goals. No one client is the same. Therefore, a coach must be able to correctly identify what the client needs by carefully and actively listening to them.
It’s important to realize that the client usually knows what’s best for them and a coach can also learn from their clients. A coach should not act like they have all the solutions, instead, a successful life coach works with the client as an equal, listens to what they are saying, asks the right questions to challenge their limiting beliefs and gives space and time for the client to come up with the solution. Without this skill, the coach would be wasting the clients time and money as well as their own.
POSSESSES BUSINESS, SALES, MARKETING AND ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS
To be in the life coaching business, a coach must have good business skills in order to succeed and thrive in their field. The life coaching industry is a tough industry to launch into, therefore a coach must be able to learn and develop skills in all areas to stand out and gain advantage over their competition. Understanding the fundamentals of business is crucial to structuring and running their own business as well as helping their clients in business related issues. If it shows up during a coaching session, a coach should be able to discuss business with ease and confidence without making the client feel like they don’t know what they’re doing, otherwise, trust is compromised.
A coach must also have good time management and organizational skills to keep their business running smoothly and keep up with their client’s needs. Networking and sales are other significant parts of life coaching that a coach must be proficient in. A successful life coach is a coach that feels confident reaching out to new people and taking ‘no’ for an answer. They must have a powerful mindset that is able to withstand rejection and move past it. They must be approachable, friendly and helpful to gain new customers when networking and create new business contacts.
A life coach could be the best in their field, but if no one has heard about them or their services, then they will not have any clients to coach and won’t make any income. Therefore, marketing is a very important skill to have, especially during this day and age where digital marketing and advertisement is booming. In addition to marketing their services on websites, magazines, and newspapers, a successful life coach is able to leverage free advertising tools such as social media to increase their reach, promote their services, and engage with their clients to build a virtual reputation and brand for new and potential clients/partners to view. Therefore, having a solid background in business, sales, and marketing sets a successful life coach apart from other coaches in the industry.
CHALLENGES THE CLIENT, ASKS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS AND CULTIVATES CURIOSITY
The best coaches are able to challenge the limiting beliefs that their clients hold and are able to ask the right questions that spark curiosity and allow the client to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying problems they’re facing. A good coach can shift their client's perspective and allow them to approach their issues with clarity, focus, and honesty. Therefore, a coach must be a critical thinker that is able to find creative ways to make their client see past their limiting beliefs and take action to resolve the issue accordingly. A successful coach is confident in their ability to challenge their clients, cultivate curiosity, and achieve substantial change for them to reach their goals.
CREATES AN OPEN AND JUDGEMENT-FREE CULTURE
A life coach’s objective is to help their clients find solutions to obstacles in their professional and personal life. Therefore, having the ability to make the client feel comfortable opening up about their struggles is one of the core skills a life coach must possess. A successful coach would be confident enough sharing their own vulnerability to allow the client to do the same, especially if they are feeling hesitant. By creating an open and non-judgemental environment, clients are more inclined to open up and share emotionally challenging material during coaching sessions.
Although the life coaching industry is saturated, finding a good life coach is difficult and can be an emotionally and financially daunting decision to make. This is because coaching is not only about the tools and principles of success that the coach provides, a large part of it is about building a dynamic rapport with the client. Much like any relationship, a relationship between a coach and their client is unique and must be built on trust and respect. If a coach possess all 7 traits mentioned above, there’s a good chance of having a successful coaching relationship.