18 Qualities and Traits for a Business Coach

 Sai Blackbyrn/ 10th April 2022

A Business coach assists entrepreneurs with his expertise in expanding business and maximizing profits through tailored advice. A good business coach has certain distinct qualities and traits which makes him the ideal candidate to turn to for any business-related concerns. Ranging from industry experience and knowledge to communication skills and commitment level, all these traits are fundamental parameters that act as deciding factors towards the making of an ideal business coach. 

Possessing such qualities will be beneficial for the business coach in order to guide entrepreneurs in defining their organization’s vision. A business coach who is unaware of current market trends will be unable to adapt to clients’ changing needs. Similarly, a coach who lacks clear and effective communication skills will fail to help his client. If the coach cannot match the wavelength of his client, then that leaves no room for a meaningful exchange. So, it is crucial for a business coach to keep up to date with the industry. They should also hone effective communication skills, among many other qualities. 

An entrepreneur can detect such qualities in a business coach by reaching out to local businessmen to get a referral. Getting referrals through social media sites like LinkedIn and Facebook groups about coaching businesses can also work. A simple online search will also suffice. After finding a list of prospective business coaches in your area or online, you ought to read the feedback provided about these coaches. Checking the experience level and the number of clients that they have coached is also a telling factor. Look whether they have a concrete and successful business model. This will help you to determine whether the business coach can prove to be beneficial for your organization. Choose the best coach for you by identifying who meets your requirements and understands your business. 

If you are a coach who is feeling a bit lost about how to imbibe these qualities in yourself, then enrolling in a coaching course is the answer for you. Coaching courses can help you to develop these key traits. For those interested in becoming an ICF-accredited coach, the College of Executive Coaching and Alliance Coaching offers flexible business coaching courses throughout the year. These courses will provide you with a detailed roadmap of the qualities that must be cultivated by an individual to make a name for themselves in the coaching industry. 

The 18 qualities and behavior traits that you need to look for in a business coach

1. Experience for business and coaching

Experience is indicative of the skill sets developed over time. The most critical qualification for a business coach is relevant experience regarding the goal at hand. Do your research and find a person that has actually earned their place in the industry and can speak from real-life experience. For example, if your goal is to expand your firm globally, you will need a mentor who has achieved that. Suppose they don’t have the relevant experience then they will encounter problems. Then, dealing with the responsibilities of scaling a firm will be foreign to them on an emotional, financial, and psychological level. 

The experience of the coach becomes necessary as their guidance determines your chances of success. An experienced coach even helps clients in avoiding costly mistakes. On the other hand, if a coach is inexperienced then he cannot mentor the clients effectively. At worst, it might lead to problematic situations as he may mistakenly take uncalculated risks. 

The experience of a coach can be detected by the number of clients they have helped in a particular industry niche through the length of their counseling career. It can be tested by the testimonials as well as the feedback they have received from their clients. 

Verne Harnish, Founder of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), only hires coaches that have a minimum of 25 years of experience. He says, “it’s impossible to coach someone on something you have not experienced.” 

2. General attitude for Clients

The way an individual thinks, feels and behaves shapes their attitude. Ralph Marston, American football player and writer of The Daily Motivator comments, “excellence is not a skill. It’s an attitude.” Likewise, a coach should always uphold a positive attitude. The right attitude will make clients feel comfortable. Helping clients reach their full potential is the main goal of a business coach but it’s not just about delivering the final outcome. Throughout the process of coaching, the coach should maintain an amicable and easy-going attitude. Consider this example, a coach who easily tends to get frustrated and controlling will not be able to coordinate with his clients. Such a coach won’t be able to stand true to his own advice. His controlling nature will make him unlikeable and the clients will not be able to see eye to eye with him even if he is giving sound advice. Clearly, attitude is everything in coaching. 

A coach who has the right attitude can be detected by how supportive he is. A good coach will see the glass as half full and view any challenge optimistically. All this because he doesn’t make mountains out of molds. His high spirits, bright outlook and right attitude gives him an edge. Instead, if the coach focuses solely on how complicated a situation seems to be, he will end up demotivating his clients. 

3. Happiness of the Coach

Happiness is an emotional state characterized by feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment. Regrettably, happiness takes a backseat in the corporate world where competition is an incessant source of anxiety and panic. Indicatively, more than 40% of managers and employees miss work due to stress, according to the WHO (World Health Organization). Only a happy coach will be capable of creating a happy work culture for professionals. For instance, a coach who is suffering from bouts of stress and anxiety will be incapable of addressing the concerns of others. 

To find out whether a coach possesses this trait, one must observe how he handles stressful situations. Test it out by analyzing how he handles an unforeseen challenge. If he fares well without crumbling under pressure, he is the ideal mentor.  Otherwise, it can lead to problems. As a coach who breaks under demanding circumstances will mess up the work morale of an organization. 

4. Sharing Style for the Information

Any information should be disseminated at a comprehensible level. For the purpose of sharing information, democratic style is the best. Coaches who practice democratic style empower entrepreneurs to be active participants in their own development. Consider the example of Ray Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, a global leader in institutional portfolio management stresses the need for independent thinking and motivates every worker in his company, irrespective of their seniority level, to put forward innovative ideas. 

An efficient sharing style of information is necessary as this acts as a medium of exchange. It promotes input from the entrepreneur and gives them agency.  The way the coach shares information can be detected by observing whether he involves clients before making any big management decisions. If the coach merely dictates decisions, then his style of sharing information is autocratic. Although this can lead to quick progress, it is like a double-edged sword since it can also lead to a communication gap and cause client dissatisfaction. 

5. Expertise and Knowledge in their field 

The expertise of a coach depends on the skill sets they possess. Any business coach should possess industry, service and product-oriented knowledge. For instance, only a business coach who is well aware of the latest digital marketing trends can help e-commercial businesses. Additionally, coaching will be beneficial provided it is narrowed down to be niche-specific. This trait can be detected by examining the tips offered by the coach. The tips should be tailored to drive profit growth, and to achieve long-lasting success. To see whether a coach has the relevant field expertise, you must ask him questions related to the industry. Scrutinize their answers and observe if their advice is generic or substantial. A coach who lacks basic knowledge about their field will not be able to apply systematic implementation or develop a fool-proof business model. 

6. Warming Nature

A business coach should be easy to approach, amicable and warm. They should be able to make their clients comfortable. For example, there are two business coaches you are considering. The coach with whom you can develop a friendly rapport will end up being the one who gets chosen. A warm nature is necessary for a coach since they interact with clients for the sole purpose of guiding them. This guidance should be done with a willingness to leave no stone unturned even while managing a hectic schedule.  You can detect if a coach possesses a warm personality simply by conversing with them. You can also test it out by reading feedback from previous clients. If a coach has a cold aura, then it renders the client hesitant to ask questions freely. It will be problematic as the client might feel judged. 

7. Motivational Talents

A good business coach motivates and inspires entrepreneurs. They assist clients to strive forward by focusing on their betterment. They inspire clients to take action and make use of an opportunity. For example, a business coach should motivate his client to expand their local business. Being able to inspire entrepreneurs to take action is necessary as a coach should have leadership abilities. Also, motivation enables clients to connect more deeply with work. When clients like their work, they are more likely to solve difficulties and finish tasks efficiently.

In order to detect whether a business coach has motivational talents, you should notice whether the employees feel more driven towards their work after interacting with the coach. You can test out whether the coach is able to stimulate employee productivity by hearing what the workers say about his methods. If the coach fails to motivate the employees then a lack of inspiration to meet targets can lead to potential loss. Even the employees will get disinterested in their work. 

8. Understanding and Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s point of view while also understanding their emotions vicariously. Empathy is an important skill to have in the coaching profession since effective counseling can only occur if the coach is able to understand the concerns and dilemmas of his client. In fact, the Center for Creative Leadership published insightful research on the benefits of empathy in business. An examination of 6,731 managers from 38 countries revealed that empathy improves job performance. Managers who displayed empathy received higher performance assessments from their supervisors than managers who did not. 

The same can stand true for coaches. A business coach can do better mentoring if they understand the needs of their clients. You can detect whether a coach is empathetic if they listen to your problems patiently and don’t berate you. If they lack empathy then it can prove to be disastrous for their coaching career. After all, if the client feels that they cannot express themselves freely, they will not return. It’s the job of the coach to be supportive and non-judgemental. 

9. Discipling the client

Discipling implies the act of enforcing obedience and order. A business coach should discipline their client by putting their foot down when the client takes uncalculated risks. Being stringent is necessary in cases when it seems like the client is going to run his business towards a dead end. For example, a business coach should take firm disciplinary actions when the client, against their better judgment, takes unprofitable decisions for their organization. 

To detect whether a business coach possesses this trait, observe the manner in which they react when you suggest taking an unlucrative deal. This way, you can test out if the coach can draw a line to protect you from sabotaging deals. Otherwise, it will be problematic because if the coach heedlessly agrees with every decision you take, the firm can incur huge losses. All because the coach refused to put their foot down.

10. Loving to teach

A business coach should love to teach his clients. Any information that is beneficial to the client’s firm should be conveyed to them effectively. For example, if the client is unaware of how SEO can help attract visitors to his website, it is the duty of the coach to inform him. Having a love for teaching is necessary for all good mentors. To detect whether a coach has this trait, the client should raise questions about an industry trend. If the coach demonstrates a certain willingness in sharing information and repeating the main points then they are apt at providing guidance. If not, then this will lead to client dissatisfaction, and at the end of the day, the client wouldn’t have learned what they needed to. 

11. Ability to change the mindset

Changing the mindset of a person is not an easy task. It entails conditioning them to think positively. For example, if the client feels like they have reached a saturation point in their business growth, the coach needs to break this myth. To do this, they have to train the client to not restrict and limit their growth by breaking mental barriers. If a coach achieves this, half the battle is already won. 

To detect whether a business coach can successfully change mindsets, read testimonials of previous clients and see if any of them were able to change their mindsets and achieve their long-term plans. Supposedly, if a business coach fails to change his client’s indecisive and hesitant mindset, then they will not be able to think big. Perception leads to conception so it’s essential for a coach to transform his client’s mentality for the better. 

“By making the effort to recognize the positive effects of change for business, you’ll retrain your brain to see change as an opportunity for growth” – Jared Brown, Hubstaff

12. Great Daily Productivity

Productivity refers to the output of work done efficiently. A business coach should yield productive outcomes for their clients through consistent daily efforts. According to research published in Olivero et al. 1997, coaching can enhance productivity by 88%. Disorganized, unproductive meetings zap the motivation and morale of employees. Inefficient meetings result from a lack of planning and preparation. A business coach who is apt at increasing productivity can make company meetings more fruitful. They will manage meetings to run more efficiently, by listing clear objectives, starting and ending the meeting on time, and keeping the employees focused. 

The level of productivity of a business coach can be detected by observing the influence they had on your employees. If the employees are more focused and organized then it means the counseling has been successful. At the same time, to test out whether the coach can maintain the productivity levels, you should conduct weekly follow-up to see whether the targets are being completed timely. If the coach is unable to retain efficiency then they won’t be able to change the work morale of the firm long-term. This will be a total waste considering the time and money spent training your employees.  

13. Strong Communication

Good communication means the message you intend to send is received by your audience with full understanding. To build trust, a business coach must have open communication with customers. Strong communication skills help to create genuine and long-lasting connections with clients. It is necessary to have a good rapport with the client. Effective communication will demonstrate to clients that the coach is understanding their concerns. It also assures them that the coach will assist them by conveying strategic guidelines. For example, a business coach who is unable to clearly explain what changes his customer should undertake to make the business flourish will not meet expectations. 

To detect whether a coach is a good orator, you can test him out by analyzing whether he is able to address the problems of the employees. A business coach who fails to do so will not be able to match the wavelength of his employer. This will problematically disrupt the pace of the organization and can lead to confusion if his message is being misinterpreted. Remember, communication is a two-way street. A coach’s job doesn’t end after conveying advice, they must cross-check and see whether their message was properly understood. 

“Communication, the human connection, is the key to personal and career success” – Paul J. Meyer, author of Five Pillars of Leadership

14. Self- awareness

Embarking on self-awareness means confronting yourself. It entails evaluating your merits and demerits. Retrospection leads to self-knowledge. For example, Daniel Goleman, popularly known for his work on emotional intelligence says that “self-awareness is indispensable in leadership, allowing leaders to harness their own competencies for the greatest positive impact on others”

So, a business coach should be self-aware as it enables them to accept their flaws and work on their shortcomings. A refusal to acknowledge mistakes is the biggest flaw in a coach.  Self-knowledge is necessary to regulate fluctuating thoughts and emotions. A self-aware coach reacts proactively rather than spontaneously. Self-awareness in a coach can be detected by assessing how well they follow up after the feedback provided to them. Without sufficient self-awareness, a coach struggles to comprehend others and form meaningful relationships with clients.

15. Commitment

Commitment refers to the time, effort and dedication a person puts into work. A business coach should be committed to improving his client’s business.  They should feel driven and even obliged to achieve the company’s goals. Here’s an example to demonstrate how commitment leads to greater productivity. According to research published by The McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by 20 to 25 percent in organizations with committed employees. 

It is crucial for business counseling to be done with commitment. By doing so, they can increase employee satisfaction, profitability, and productivity by a notch. To determine how committed the coach is to the cause, test him by examining how he engages with the employees. Be objective in your approach and scrutinize how well he is able to promote work culture. Take a survey and ask your employees if the training led to overall improvement. 

Supposedly, the business coach ends up conducting the sessions in an unengaging and light manner then the reason why you approached him in the first place falls flat. Such a coach will not be able to help the firm grow. 

16. Solution-oriented Mind

Being solution-oriented entails going beyond immediate difficulties in order to identify potential solutions. It is one of the most thriving problem-solving techniques. A business coach should focus on providing solutions instead of wasting time contemplating the magnitude of problems. For example, let’s say you fall short of delivering a large order by weeks. It’s at this point that a business coach should focus on ensuring that the other party does not cancel the order. So, it is necessary for a coach to cultivate a solution-oriented mindset for effective leadership. 

To detect if a business coach is solution-oriented see whether they ask the right questions. The inquisitiveness of a coach makes them focus on developing innovative solutions. You can also test them out by observing whether they hold accountability or simply play the blame game. A coach who fails to look for solutions will get frustrated. This will also impact the employees negatively and leave a bad impression. 

17. Optimism

Optimism means adopting a tendency to look at the more favorable side of events. A business coach should look for the best in his clients. Here’s an example to prove how optimism is a must-have trait in a coach: Jeffrey E. Garten interviewed 40 of the world’s top CEOs in his book The Mind of the CEO. One common quality that all these CEOs shared was optimism. 

So, what is required of a business coach is to remain positive even in intimidating situations. For instance, if a firm has faced a huge loss of reputation then a coach should not feel that no matter what they do, it’s hopeless. Their job is to make their client emerge out of the adversity stronger. 

Being an optimist enables you to see the big picture and opportunities in ways that others may not. While coaches may understand the need of teaching positivity intellectually, they frequently lose sight of themselves and fail to practice what they preach. A pessimistic coach will give up midway and abandon his client. 

18. Clarity 

Clarity implies viewing situations with an objective eye without any prejudice. A business coach should understand his client’s ambitions, targets and challenges clearly. For example, a firm is dealing with employee productivity issues. Business counseling can help only if the coach is able to see the larger picture. The key concern that the coach should figure out is how unproductivity of the employees is causing the business to lose out with their competitors gaining an edge. 

So, it is important for a business coach to maintain clarity of the desired outcome that the client seeks. They must be able to upscale the company. To detect whether a coach holds clarity of vision, you can test him out by scrutinizing if he is able to distinguish between the short and long-term goals of your organization. Failure to do so by the coach will hamper your business. The coach will end up misinterpreting your brand vision and delineate from the trajectory you wish to head into. 

What is the most important quality of a business coach?

The most important quality of a business coach is expertise in his/her business. Only a business coach who possesses the requisite skill sets will be able to help an organization flourish. For instance, only a business coach who is well aware of the latest digital marketing trends can help e-commercial businesses. Additionally, coaching will be beneficial provided it is narrowed down to be niche-specific. The tips offered by the coach should be uniquely curated to drive profit growth, and to achieve long-lasting success. 

Expertise goes hand in hand with experience. Most entrepreneurs are uneasy being mentored by someone who lacks experience or is not a recognized specialist in the field. They fear that a coach who lacks fundamental expertise in their field will be unable to implement a methodical approach or establish a foolproof business plan. So, it is vital for the clients being coached to understand that their coach has a diverse range of experience when it comes to handling corporate groups.   

Why does hiring a business coach require too much attention? 

“The goal of coaching is the goal of good management: to make the most of an organization’s valuable resources.” – Harvard Business Review

Hiring a business coach is attention-demanding and time-taking because you need to find the right coach who will provide tailored advice that is customized for your business. Business coaches have different specializations, and you need to consider their niche expertise and relevant experience among other factors before hiring them. You need someone who isn’t afraid of correcting your shortcomings and can pave the way for networking opportunities. 

 Before hiring, you need to determine whether the coach can aptly multitask. He/She should be able to handle organizational planning, offer tips about marketing and sales. Apart from this, a business coach should have credible knowledge in managing company finances. He/She should be able to advise and assist business owners in understanding numerous elements such as tax planning, pricing strategies, locating monetary leaks and cash flow management. 

To brief it up, before hiring a business coach, one should research whether the potential coach they are considering possesses certain key traits as aforementioned which will be favorable for the business. 

How can a person have business coach traits?

To acquire business coach qualities, a person should first get professionally trained as a certified business coach. Studying a business coaching course is the first step. Becoming an ICF-accredited coach will provide a basic outline of what key traits a business coach should possess. This will help you start on the road to imbibe these qualities. You can also read books by well-established coaches in the industry or listen to podcasts made by business coaches. Books like The Prosperous Coach by Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin and podcasts like The Small Biz Buzz by Keap will help you identify the qualities of top coaches that make them client’s ‘go-to-person’. After this, try to incorporate a sense of accountability when you listen to a client’s goals and challenges. Maintain open communication and don’t hesitate to go the extra mile to meet the expectations of your clients. Head to ‘How to Become a Business Coach’ to read more.

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