Blog » Skills and Habits » Coaching Philosophies (With Examples) – The Definitive Guide
Coaching Philosophies (With Examples)
The Definitive Guide
All great coaches have one thing in common – an engaging coaching philosophy that drives their approach.
A coaching philosophy becomes the foundation to set connections between the coach and clients. Developing a successful coaching philosophy will help you lay down the track that will lead you to gain more insight into guiding your clients.
So if you are looking for methods to:
- Personalize your coaching philosophy
- Organize your coaching beliefs
- Create a robust mission statement
- Pick your leadership approach
Then this guide is for you.
Now, let’s dive right into it!
Don’t have time to read the whole guide right now?
Before we head into discussing how you can curate a dynamic coaching philosophy, let’s talk about the need and the importance of it.
I’ll walk you through the fundamentals so you can see for yourself why developing a coaching philosophy will prove to be handy for all your coaching sessions but first for all, let’s start with the basics.
The Basics Behind a Coaching Philosophy
Almost everything has a philosophy behind and around it. Our lives have a philosophy and so do organizations. Most of us have philosophies for people in our lives. e.g., for the Prime Minister, for a shopkeeper, for our next-door neighbor, etc. But if you notice, for the most part, these philosophies are more or less automatic and unconscious.
The word philosophy refers to everyday practical life and not just abstract concepts and problems. The significance of having a philosophy can be seen in many areas, right from our everyday general comprehension of the environment to issues of morality and the entire systems of the world.
When it comes to coaching, I suggest that as a coach, you should act based on your
The main idea behind this is that do you know yourself well enough to understand your:
- Core values
- Personal belief systems
- Coaching strategies
A. What is a Coaching Philosophy?
So, to begin with, let’s go ahead and look at what a coaching philosophy is.
A coaching philosophy describes those principles which you will use while coaching someone and, also which you will use to approach your role as a coach. It includes many things, right from how you will handle your client’s growth to the main objectives of the coaching process as well as some ideas to guide it.
The coaching philosophy acts as a guide for you, giving you a gist of how to behave like a coach so that people can better communicate with you.
A good coaching philosophy is based on the truest version of yourself as well as the kind of coach you would like to become.
It is usually based on the information you have, your skills as a coach, your previous experience, and the opinions and beliefs you carry.
Coaching someone involves decision-making of an ethical nature. If you have a strong vision and a stronger intention, you will be able to make better decisions
A good coaching philosophy encompasses the values, principles, and essence of the coach. It lays out a kind of guideline so that the objectives are clearly defined, regardless of the duration of the coaching relationship or other such factors.
For a better understanding, let us look at an example of a coaching philosophy:
1. I commit to supporting my client’s process of growth.
2. This coaching relationship is based on truth, faith and openness.
3. My client is responsible for their actions and the results they create.
4. The focus in this coaching process is grounded on the client’s experiences and thoughts.
5. The coaching process is based on equality.
A good coaching philosophy enlists clear standards that help you navigate your program. These norms and guidelines do not just determine who you are (as a coach) but also what you believe in and what you stand for and represent.
An effective philosophy of coaching helps you deliver effective results in your coaching practice. In short, the philosophy of coaching represents your view of the world and how that view will influence your coaching.
The coaching philosophy is a key ingredient in your coaching career, and it helps to define what kind of coach you grow into, as well as how your clients will benefit from it.
A coaching philosophy is essentially the backbone of your program and sets the stage for you, your team, and your clients, as a whole.
A comprehensive and clear coaching philosophy helps your team and clients take responsibility for their own actions, choices, and decisions.
Another benefit of having a laid-out coaching philosophy is that your team and clients both can satisfy the clearly stated expectations from the start, without ambiguity.
Now that we have looked at what a coaching philosophy is and what it encompasses, let’s discuss why you need to meticulously develop a coaching philosophy to guide your practice.
B. The Need and Importance of Developing a Coaching Philosophy
Consistency is important for any coach. When you have a strong coaching philosophy, you can be more consistent with your direction, decision making, and your overall presence as a coach.
So, let’s look at the importance of having a solid coaching philosophy.
Many coaching philosophies exist, and they have various definitions. No matter these differences, one thing that they all usually have in common is that they lay out the following very clearly:
- The intent of the practice and coaching relationship
- Principles on which the practice is based
- The values of the coach
A consistent philosophy of coaching diminishes confusion about various areas of operation. E.g.:
- Rules of engagement
- Coaching style
- Frequency and continuity
- Discipline and decorum
- Long-term goals
Such a statement of coaching philosophy will assist all stakeholders to appreciate the choices you make in your coaching process.
Some of the reasons why a coaching philosophy is needed:
1. An unarticulated idea is often forgotten. Though you may ‘think’ that you know what is driving and guiding you in the process of coaching, over time you will become cynical or jaded, sometimes confused and may even lose track of the same. If you can change your coaching philosophy, it will help you remember the reason why you became a coach and what matters.
2. We all have baggage from our past experiences and journeys, including some that may be irrelevant or even harmful to your coaching process. Therefore, it is supremely helpful to have a clear-cut distinction between what is guiding your coaching conversations and what is not doing the same.
3. With a clearly defined philosophy you can set any dilemmas, ethical conundrums etc. within that given structure. This greatly helps you to avoid problems as a coach and makes sure that you and your client can communicate effectively.
4. Potential (and even existing) clients can take a look at your philosophy and see if it matches their own values. This ability goes a very long way in ensuring a good fit between you as a coach and your client.
Many times, coaches inadvertently have a coaching philosophy. It is just that they have not taken the time to analyze and pen it down. If you too have done the same thing, then your philosophy of coaching is still at a subconscious stage.
Though it will still influence the way you coach your clients, it will not be visible. Evidently, you wouldn’t know for certain whether you can mold and implement your coaching philosophy into your practice effusively.
Therefore, it will be difficult to use the philosophy to guide you with other clients. If, on the other hand, you have a philosophy drafted and penned down, it becomes a much more effective tool in guiding your conversations and practice of coaching.
So, that’s what our first chapter was all about: The Fundamentals of Coaching Philosophy, it’s time for the second chapter to begin!
C. Key Elements of a Coaching Philosophy
Now that you have gone through ‘what is coaching philosophy’ and ‘what is the importance of a coaching philosophy, it’s now time to go through some key elements that should be there in every coaching philosophy.
Dilts’ Hierarchy of ‘Logical Levels’
Almost every coach models behaviors to their clients. And it is well known that any behavior is merely a reflection of a person’s inner-held beliefs, values, and opinions.
There is a hierarchy of ‘ logical levels’ given by Robert Dilts, a respected developer and a pioneer in the field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). The fundamental principle about these levels is that every level on top affects the level below, but does not necessarily affect the level above it.
Read this informative article about ‘What are Dilts’ Logical Levels’ to understand how Dilts’ logical levels indicate the different degrees to which an individual thinks, feels, knows or speaks.
As per this hierarchy, your identity and your beliefs drive how you behave as a coach and not the other way round. If you wish to change a behavior, instead of working externally on it, you should work on the underlying belief system and patterns.
As a coach, you must have noticed that people hold their beliefs very deeply but do not express or articulate them openly. Many of these beliefs might even go right back to the person’s childhood.
They are not so easy to get to the surface, but these very beliefs may have a deep impact on the person’s behavior and decisions. Therefore, it becomes vital to identify and work with these very belief systems as they impact your coaching process.
Having a grip on the ‘what’ aspect of a coaching philosophy as well as its key elements, lets us move to understand how a coaching philosophy is helpful to you, as a coach.
How a Coaching Philosophy Helps You as a Coach
A coaching philosophy is an important part of the coaching process, and it directly affects you as the coach and your clients too. Developing this philosophy allows you to create a kind of ‘standard of care’ for your coaching practice.
The chapter will also have some actionable tips that one can use in each stage of change to achieve desirable results, and to move to the next step successfully, without having to get stuck. Coaches can use these tips to guide their clients towards their results.
Though every coaching conversation is unique, a planned philosophy allows the coach to show up in a standard and uniform way with all the clients, at the same level, at least to begin with.
As a coach, you can use your own ideology to decide goals, in collaboration with your client. A planned philosophy will help you if you and your client face some training blocks over a period.
Informs Decision Making
A coaching philosophy also helps you and your client to make some important decisions. A well-written philosophy of coaching can guide you to make the right choices at various stages of the coaching process.
A coaching philosophy is a vital tool to direct how you coach your client. It gives definite guidance and ways of navigation on your collective goals and the route you and your client will walk on.
This in turn helps to make effective choices that are clear-cut and based on reason. It also helps the whole coaching process to align with your value system.
If you are someone who has trouble following through with clients then curating a coaching philosophy will help you counter that. It will help to increase your consistency in delivering the solutions and will also help to maintain your reputation as a coach.
Taking the time to communicate and convey the philosophy can make you a more effective mentor. Following through with what has been stated in the coaching philosophy is of utmost importance.
Want to read more about the merits of coaching philosophy? Then read this article on ‘Coaching Philosophy: What It Is and How to Develop Your Own.’
Now, from getting information about how a coaching philosophy helps you as a coach, let us now move onto Chapter 3 to how exactly you can create a coaching philosophy for your own practice.
How to Create your own Personalized Coaching Philosophy
As a coach, you must understand that a coaching philosophy is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of deal. For any coaching philosophy to be effective it should have an element of you in it, rather than it being a standard, cookie-cutter kind of a statement.
Here are 10 steps that are most critical when it comes to formulating your own coaching philosophy.
1. Organize and understand your beliefs
You need to understand your own self, norms, values, and beliefs and then use the same in your work. As a coach, you should ensure that there is a personal value system to direct you in your coaching interactions
Many coaches are comfortable doing and saying what their clients need but they lose sight of their own vision, values, and their purpose
A good coaching philosophy reflects the person that you truly are. It’s a benchmark that you must put to practice, apart from the printed version.
2. Know your goals and purpose
The crucial question is what do you want to accomplish as a coach? A winning coaching philosophy includes defining the intent behind the coaching and then paying sustained attention to the goal(s).
As per the Coaching Association of Canada, ‘developing a winning coaching philosophy entails identifying the purpose of your coaching and then working on the objective(s)’
You may want to ask yourself:
- What does it mean for you to be a coach?
- Who comes first, your clients or the money you make?
To develop your plan, you need to know what is actually driving you and how to use that drive to your advantage.
3. Create a mission statement
This is a statement that includes your principles and values to drive you to accomplish your goals. Your clients are crucial, and the focus should be more on them.
Along with your principles, your personal beliefs, as well as your opinions, will provide a strong pathway for coaches in your coaching program to where you want to go.
A strong question to ask yourself at this point, as a coach is: Why does coaching matter to me?
4. Pick your approach to leadership
This is a crucial part of the coaching philosophy. It is important to choose a leadership style early on and to improve it as you gain experience. A good idea is to choose a participatory style of leadership so that your clients have a better chance of engaging actively. In turn, they get more opportunities for the creation and expression of their ideas.
5. Become self-aware and deepen that understanding
Here are some things that qualify as self-awareness: knowing your weaknesses, your plus-points, and strengths, what matters to you, how you respond to various circumstances, how you handle a crisis, etc. When faced with difficult tasks, here are some helpful ways to explore what you can do next by posing relevant and thought-provoking questions like:
- What is my client’s goal?
- How should I respond? What’s the best way?
- What can I change in this situation?
- What represents my standards of integrity and morals?
6. Communicate the philosophy
Once you share the coaching philosophy, it is an indication that you have announced your goals publicly, willingly, and freely. This establishes that you have taken accountability for your potential actions. This also helps your client to understand your game plan for the coaching process.
7. Set expectations and standards
As a coach, it is vital to set standards that you want to accomplish as well as for your customers. Both parties must follow these requirements. You can lead by example and establish the standards that the participants must also try to meet.
Another important area is to set criteria to measure growth and progress. This could include a metric, a timeline, and some other general criteria to measure success or improvement over a stipulated period of time.
8. Pen down and live up to your philosophy
Writing down your philosophy and its components makes it a tool or reference that you can refer to and focus on. This philosophy should be relevant to your actions and serve as a guide. One of the best approaches is to live the philosophy and ‘walk the talk’.
9. Make changes in the philosophy as per the needs
Expert coaches understand variables like organizational and operational climate and its effect on theoretical concepts like coaching philosophy. Often these have to be amended to suit the climate of the concept.
Ask yourself that as a coach, do you understand the organizational environment in which you and your clients operate?
10. Go beyond tactics
Many coaches talk of plans and strategies when asked about their philosophy. But what is more important is to focus on your values and beliefs that guide your conversations, sessions, relationships, and decision making.
The philosophy of coaching is much more than just performance and results. As much as those are important, it is more about the process and the path you and your clients take in racing those results.
Tips To Create Coaching Philosophy
Now, I will walk you through some useful tips which can help you create your own unique coaching philosophy to help clients find their way.
Consider What Others Would Say About Your Approach
To create good coaching facilities you should consider what others would say about your approach. It is an important factor as you can only show your facilities to others by telling them in written form or by making them experienced. Because consideration of others let you know about the facilities that you are providing to them.
They will tell you about the critics that are in your facilities so that you can alter them and make your coaching facilities the best. Your approach is the only way that can make your coaching excellent. So it is important to have a good approach towards it. Because when you meet others your approach towards them will tell them about you first.
Don’t Be Afraid to Tweak your Philosophy
Have you ever done something for a long time in a similar way? Isn’t it boring or an extremely tiring situation?
Yes, it is because when you do something for a long time you get tired of it after a point of time and the same happens in the coaching also. So never get afraid of changing your way of Philosophy.
Identically delivering a philosophy will make you feel low and bored and that’s why many experts alter or tweak their philosophy as per the circumstances.
To make your coaching facilities better you should first set the expectations. Expectations are the goals that you want to achieve in your coaching facilities.
For chasing any goal first you have to set it because without setting a goal you can go in the wrong direction. Just like that, we can’t achieve any goal without setting it, we should also have some expectations so that we can do work in the right way to reach that expectation.
And it becomes easier if you have set expectations because at that point you have an idea of where you have to go. What do you want to achieve? So I must set expectations for a good coaching facility.
Remember, It’s Not About You
Always remember that the coaching facilities that you provide to others are about them not about you.
So you just have to take into consideration whether what you are giving to them is helpful for them or not. Everything that you are facilitating is completely for those who are there to get your coaching.
Take Responsibility and Accountability
Everything that is achieved by your player whether it is good or bad you are the only person who is liable for them.
Because they showcase your values and standards in their game. In the field area, they are just a player with your guidance, every move taken by them just shows you and your coaching techniques.
So it’s your responsibility to coach them at a level where they don’t let you down. It is your accountability to provide them with a philosophy that is real and can be used in a world full of competition.
Now that you have the master tips to create a coaching philosophy, you are all ready to fly high. But wait! How about some coaching philosophy examples to strengthen your learning!
Personal Development Coaching
A personal development coach, also known as a life coach, is someone who forms and supervises strategies that help their clients achieve their goals.
Personal development coaches use psychological insights and behavioral learnings to deal with their clients. They often make customized recommendations for individuals who are striving to flourish in a particular area of their life.
Personal development coaching is about helping your clients classify life goals in areas like occupation, relationships, discipline, etc.
A life coach often focuses on helping the clients feel “released” from a feeling of being stuck in their life. They help pick up the speed and enable clients to reach their goals efficiently.
When you say the word coaching, most people have an image of a person with a clipboard, running up and down a sports court, guiding their team. Though this may seem like an alternate role to other forms of coaching, the majority of the philosophies are similar.
They usually develop a coaching philosophy by acknowledging the goals of the team and the objectives of individual athletes. What kind of coach they want to be as well as their ideals are included in this philosophy.
An effective health coach holds that no two people or their bodies are the same and they acknowledge that the ‘one size fits all’ philosophy does not work when trying to improve general health or helping a client going through a health crisis.
Here is an example of a health coaching philosophy that would support clients well:
“As a health coach, I realize that each person is unique, so just one specific exercise, diet, or lifestyle will not work for everyone. I will tailor my recommendations and plans for change based on each person individually. I will personalize information for you so it works for you specifically.”
Head to ‘6 Skills and Qualities That a Health Coach Must Possess’ to discover how you can become a better health coach.
Executive or Business Coaching
The personal philosophy of coaching serves as a mission statement for the way the coach approaches business coaching.
A clear vision of two things really helps with the process of coaching and reaching exponential growth: one is the type of client that will be served and how they will be served. Here are some examples
“Coaching is a relationship of equals, where accountability for moving oneself forward lies with the individual being coached, and responsibility for providing the insightful and challenging coaching to support that happening for the client lies with the coach.”~ Dave McKeon
“We exist to make the world a better place – one courageous conversation, one liberating truth, one great leader at a time. We partner with individuals, teams, and organizations to help leaders and their teams enjoy the journey.” ~ Greg Salciccioli
Wondering what else it takes to be a good business coach? Then I’d suggest you read this article.
Wellness coaches work with clients to help them achieve self-decided, perceptible mental health and wellness goals. By helping clients to develop robust discipline, mental strength and self-confidence, wellness coaches aim at facilitating relatively permanent and life-long change in their clients.
The self-determined goal of the client could be anything: whether it is becoming less sensitive during arguments, or if it’s to become more assertive, a wellness coach can help them get there. To read more about Wellness Coaching, check out this article.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of this article, and now you’re equipped with all the information you need about the ‘how’, ‘what’ and ‘why’ of a coaching philosophy.
So, did you find this guide helpful?
Will you apply the tips to curate your own coaching philosophy?
If you think I’ve missed something important in this article, let me know what it is in the comments section below.