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The Four Different Types of Coaching Styles - HRDQ

The Four Different Types of Coaching Styles

The act of coaching is essential in the workplace. Leading managers need to coach lower-level staff to get them up to speed and grow as team members. The coach can use their experiences and personality to coach employees to achieve specific goals. The goals of the coaching process include maximizing management abilities, growing leadership potential, and working on creative behavioral change. If employees have a good coach, they are more likely to go far.

Many professions have a specific set of skills that an employee uses throughout their career. However, coaching doesn't have a particular skill set that is repeated in every coaching situation. Each coaching relationship comes with new challenges and presents different opportunities to learn new skills because no two coachees are alike. Each coachee approaches their coach with different needs and aspirations, so no two coaching relationships are the same.

Consequently, coaches need to be skilled in various areas such as goal setting, action planning, questioning skills, listening, and behavioral change techniques.

Let's get started!

What are the Definitions of 'Coaching' and 'Style'?

"Coaching" is the process of one individual working with another to help them improve their performance and reach their potential. The role of performance coaching has evolved to become a critical tool in enhancing performance and increasing the retention of the best employees. For these reasons, many Fortune 500 companies send their managers to training to become coaches. As the coaching process aims to maximize management, leadership potential, and behavioral change, companies are using coaching to individualize training.

Using their experience, expertise, and encouragement, a coach can help their coachee achieve specific goals. To develop the skills needed to improve the professional career of the coachee, the coach uses goal setting, action planning, questioning skills, listening, and behavioral change techniques. The coach aims to build trust and rapport as they act as a personal advisor and collaborative partner.


click hereA helpful tool to build trust and foster interpersonal relationships: Interpersonal Influence Inventory


"Style" is defined as how a person behaves when they can do things their own way. When you know a person well, it is often easy to predict how they will act in a given situation. When you think of significant people in your life, you can probably distinguish the different ways each individual interacted with you. In other words, you can recognize their coaching style.

Coaching + Style = Coaching Style

If you put coaching and style together, you get a definition of coaching style: a person's unique way of working with another individual to help them improve performance and reach their potential. There are four primary types of problem-solving leaders. The different types of coaching styles are:

  1. Direct. The direct style has high assertiveness and low expressiveness. Direct coaches coach by taking charge of projects and committing to the deadline.
  2. Spirited. This style coaches by inspiring and visualizing the big picture and using the employee's creativity. The spirited style has high assertiveness and high expressiveness.
  3. Considerate. Considerate style coaches have low assertiveness and high expressiveness. They coach by facilitating a comfortable environment and being empathetic and encouraging.
  4. Systematic. Coaches coach by planning carefully and using logic in all their decision-making processes. This style has low assertiveness and low expressiveness.

There are also some less common coaching methods:

  1. Autocratic coaching style. Autocratic coaches have quick decision-making skills, keep calm under pressure, get vulnerable groups on track, and have an apparent chain of control. They are highly assertive, which can build mistrust and decrease morale in some teams.
  2. Democratic coaching style. These leaders are excellent communicators and listeners and are good at taking criticism and feedback. They are generally able to facilitate conflict constructively.
  3. Holistic coaching style. The holistic approach, also known as laissez-faire coaching, this coaching focuses on keeping a team happy, ultimately making their team more successful. 
  4. Mindful coaching. These leaders use kindness and openness while allowing their experience to be what it is, inquire about it and explore the situation, and respond creatively and with compassion and self-awareness.

A great coach adapts their coaching styles to meet the requirements of individuals and situations. It's essential to know your style and the styles of the people you're coaching. For example, if you have a systematic team and you come in as a spirited new manager, it may be challenging to coach this team. While you are expressing spontaneous ideas, they want to focus on systems and plans. There needs to compromise on both sides- a good manager can appeal to their systematic side while still using their spirited personality to reach goals together.

Assess Your Coaching Style

To learn more about your style and how it can help others, HRDQ's What's My Coaching Style is a practical coaching assessment for management development that measures personality style and explores how it relates to coaching and interpersonal relationships.


click hereHRDQ's What's My Coaching Style is a practical coaching assessment for management development that measures personality style and explores how it relates to coaching and interpersonal relationships.


The assessment measures an individual's preference for the direct, spirited, considerate, and systematic coaching styles. With this knowledge, people can better understand why they behave their way, learn how to adapt their behavior to improve interpersonal relationships, develop rapport, and ultimately become more effective coaches.

Updated: 06/14/2022

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About our author

Bradford R. Glaser

Brad is President and CEO of HRDQ, a publisher of soft-skills learning solutions, and HRDQ-U, an online community for learning professionals hosting webinars, workshops, and podcasts. His 35+ years of experience in adult learning and development have fostered his passion for improving the performance of organizations, teams, and individuals.