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Confused about coaching? Here's the rundown on different types at work and beyond

January 11, 2022 - 14 min read

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14 different types of coaching

Types of coaching in the workplace

Types of coaching outside of work

What about virtual coaching?

Benefits of online coaching

The benefits of coaching

Over the last 20 years, coaching has become more and more popular. More and more people see the value of having a coach to help make hard things easier. But what exactly is coaching, and how can it benefit people in and outside of the workplace?

Coaching is a tool that can empower people at all levels to leverage their unique strengths and achieve their goals. The specific types of coaching you choose will align with what you — and your team — hope to accomplish. But no matter what you decide to do, you’ll benefit from improved retention, well-being, and productivity.

14 types of coaching – in and out of the workplace

Here’s a brief overview of 14 major types of coaching and how they may benefit you. Keep in mind that although they can be broadly split into at-work/outside-work, you may notice quite a bit of overlap. That’s to be expected — after all, there is no work-you and home-you.

Types of coaching in the workplace

1. Executive coaching

Often earmarked just for C-suite executives, this leadership coaching works with the top-level leaders at an organization. An executive coach typically focuses on how to create team synergy, implement new ideas, and deal with company-wide change.

Best for: business owners, executive-level leaders, and anyone who sets the vision and goals for an organization

2. Leadership development coaching

Leadership coaches teach new skills that help individuals become better at working with others. The focus is often on how to work with different types of people and motivate them to reach personal and team goals.

Best for: anyone who leads or manages a team or wants to get promoted

3. Performance coaching

Want to get better at your job? A performance coach can be a supervisor or colleague. They help people develop skills that are specific to meeting the objectives of their current job. As with athletic coaching, performance coaching focuses on spotting areas for improvement. The coach then offers focused practice and feedback.

Best for: anyone who has specific deliverables at work or wants to be more efficient

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4. Sales coaching

A skills-oriented type of coaching, sales coaching is part training, part mentoring. It empowers salespeople to hit their goals through skills coaching and feedback.

Best for: anyone in a sales position or who wants to increase revenue

5. Strategy or business coaching

This kind of coaching — similar to consulting — helps leaders build a strategy for organizational growth. Unlike the other types of coaching, business coaching takes a more organizational approach. The focus is more on developing, rethinking, and executing a game plan at a specific time for a business outcome than individual growth is. It often includes facilitating an executive’s entire leadership team on the journey.

Best for: leaders navigating transitions or changes within their organizations

6. Success coaching

Success and career coaching are typically characterized by a focus on a larger goal. Coaches work with their clients to identify an objective that aligns with their career goals. With this in mind, they can then set milestones towards achieving it.

Best for: high-potential people at any stage of their career that are looking to go to the next level

7. Team coaching

A type of group coaching, these coaches teach team members the skills to collaborate. They may also facilitate more intensive sessions for team members to work through challenges. Team coaching might be paired with individual coaching for more outsized results.

Best for: teams that want to strengthen their communication skills and work cross-functionally

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Types of coaching outside of work

8. Communication coaching

Whether you’re unsure how to ask for a raise or get your teenager to open up to you, communication can help remove these blocks. Even though it’s a valuable type of “at-work” coaching, the benefits will ripple throughout all areas of your life.

Best for: anyone who wants to learn to communicate effectively, either one-on-one or with a group

9. Holistic health coaching

Also known as wellness coaching, holistic health coaching focuses on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Wellness coaches aim to develop balance in a way that supports optimal, whole-person health and growth.

Best for: anyone who wants to improve their work-life balance and overall well-being

10. Intuitive coaching

Spiritually oriented, intuitive coaching works with the subconscious. Coaches work with their clients to release past blockages and trauma. The goal is often to manifest a desired outcome by developing new ways of thinking.

Best for: anyone who is feeling stuck, overwhelmed, or unsure of what to do next

11. Life coaching

While you may have heard the term “life coach,” few professionals refer to themselves in such a broad way. Life coaching is simply about making progress and finding greater fulfillment in life. Because of its broad definition, almost all kinds of coaching fall under this term.

Best for: anyone, but especially if you’re not sure how to use your strengths or achieve your goals

12. Mental health coaching

Mental health coaching helps bolster mental fitness by challenging thought patterns. Through this type of coaching, people learn to manage stress and develop strategies to deal with difficult emotions. Although it is distinct from therapy, it can be a wonderful complement to support from a trained mental health professional.

Best for: anyone who wants to understand and manage their emotional well-being

13. Relationship coaching

Relationship coaching can benefit any type of relationship. Families, friends, and even business partners can work with a relationship coach to learn to communicate with greater ease.

Best for: anyone who wants to improve their close relationships (inside and outside of work)

14. Transformational coaching

Quickly growing in popularity, transformational coaching challenges old, ingrained patterns of thought. Coachees often see themselves and their circumstances in a new way. They become empowered to identify how they can take action towards the life they want.

Best for: anyone who is looking for greater clarity, purpose, and passion in their personal and professional lives

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What about virtual coaching?

There really aren’t any special types of online coaching. Any kind of coaching, from wellness coaching to sales coaching or leadership coaching, can be conducted online. In fact, it’s even possible to have group coaching virtually.

The success of a virtual coaching format comes down to three primary factors:

  1. the quality of the coach
  2. their ability to connect with the coachee in any setting
  3. how thought-out the technology and overall format is

The usability of the technology, and to some degree the preferences and openness of the coachee, also make a difference.

Participating in online coaching sessions has distinct advantages for coaches, organizations, and individuals.

Benefits of online coaching

Convenient

There’s no beating the ease of online coaching platforms. Web-based communication tools make it easy to meet anytime and anywhere. There’s no need to rent an office space or commute to sessions since coaching conversations happen virtually.

Diverse

Because the meeting place is a virtual one, participants can be matched with coaches from anywhere in the world. That means that they can benefit from a wider selection of coaches and experiences. It also means that their group coaching cohorts are also more diverse.

Scalable

For larger organizations, virtual coaching is an ideal solution. A digital platform is easier to grow than an office, and more flexibility means a greater variety of qualified coaches to choose from.

What are 3 types of coaching styles?

Autocratic coaching

This style of coaching follows the old adage “it’s my way or the highway.” The coach informs the client of their objectives and goals with little-to-no room for additional input. Coachees within this coaching style are given the structure to succeed. However, they may feel limited when it comes to working toward their assigned goals. That's not to say that this type of coaching isn't without benefits. Autocratic coaching can help clients tackle high-stakes or pressing issues that they have little time to assess.

Democratic coaching

Democratic coaching is more flexible than the autocratic style of coaching. It leaves room for teams and individuals to set their own coaching goals and to explore alternative ways of reaching them. This coaching style welcomes teamwork and thrives on open communication between the client and their coach.

One important detail about democratic coaching is that, while client suggestions are vital, coaches still lead the way. They add structure to their sessions by having the final say when making decisions.

Holistic coaching

The holistic approach to coaching considers the whole person when creating creates goals and tactics. The coach does not typically prioritize one aspect of the coachees' life over another. This can benefit clients seeking guidance in a variety of areas, simultaneously. The holistic coaching style can also encourage clients to bring their whole selves to work, which has proven to increase productivity and retention.

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The benefits of coaching

Coaching has many benefits, as it offers an unbiased outsider’s view. Having an objective outsider has two immediate benefits:

  1. They help us see ourselves and our actions and behaviors in a way that we generally cannot on our own.
  2. They help keep us accountable for our goals and plans. This benefit applies to most forms of coaching.

Beyond that, the benefits of different types of coaching vary wildly.

Many misconceptions exist about the benefits of skills and leadership coaching. That’s because due to the qualitative, subjective nature of coaching work, the return on investment (ROI) has been difficult to quantify.

Companies like BetterUp have built coaching relationships with thousands of professionals. They have the data to track the personal and professional changes that matter most, validating this investment.

BetterUp tracks member growth through the Whole Person Model (WPM). The WPM is an assessment tool specifically designed to reflect behaviors that people can change. It measures traits that impact others and link to well-being, performance, and collaboration.

By dedicating time to intentional growth with a trained, experienced professional, coaching has the following benefits:

  • Greater self-awareness. Coaching participants have an opportunity to reflect in a non-judgmental space. They review situations, goals, and interactions and become more aware of what makes them tick.
  • Improved communication. In coaching, people can practice setting boundaries, apologizing, or potentially difficult conversations. They can receive feedback on how their tone, mannerisms, and choice of words impact others.
  • More confidence. Your coach may not always agree with you, and they can’t give you the answers or do the work for you, but they’re always in your corner. Knowing that someone has your back and that you’re working to be the best you can be, boosts your self-esteem.
  • Accountability. People who are working with coaches set clear goals. They are intentional about the steps they take to achieve their goals, and they stay focused. Having a coach to keep you accountable helps improve your chances of hitting your goals.
  • Better well-being. Employees who are less stressed are healthier and spend less on healthcare services. Coaching is shown to help reduce stress and burnout. Participants learn to manage their workloads with more efficiency. This has a positive impact on work-life balance.

One of the most common misconceptions about coaching is that it only benefits those who are executive-level leaders. Coaching skills can be effective at any level.

Everyone can benefit from having the tools to better understand and regulate themselves. Everyone can benefit from having the skills and resources to improve their own well-being. Everyone can benefit from developing mental strength and resilience.

No matter what stage you’re at in your career — or whether you’re working with a personal or professional coach — coaching can make a difference.

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Published January 11, 2022

Allaya Cooks-Campbell

BetterUp Staff Writer

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