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21 Life Coaching Skills Every Successful Coach Has

What are must-have life coaching skills?

That’s what you’ll learn today.

Through years of helping 3,000+ people build coaching businesses, I’ve distilled the top coaching skills into a set of skills every coach must have.

These skills set TOP coaches apart from the rest.

And today, I’m sharing them with you.

Ready?

Let’s dive right in!

1. Communication

Being a great communicator is one of the most important coaching skills. 

After all, that’s how you guide your clients effectively. 

But what makes communication good?

Here are five important factors:

  • Action-oriented
  • Specific
  • Clear
  • Empathetic
  • Respectful

For example, if your client is overwhelmed, you could say:

“I hear your fear. Let’s break this down into one immediate step you can take. I know you can handle it.”

Or perhaps a client is feeling unmotivated? Then a good response could be:

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“It sounds like you’re finding this hard. Can you share a time when you felt more motivated? What was different then? Let’s explore that together so we can bring back that energy.'”

You offer support AND a clear path forward.

Now, besides speaking, a big part of communicating is also listening…

2. Active listening

You know when you’re talking to someone and it seems like they’re just thinking of the next thing to say? 

Well, active listening is the opposite. 

You pay full attention and really listen.

When clients feel understood and listened to, they’re more open and ready for change.

Plus, by asking probing questions, you get a clear idea of your client’s goals and struggles.

This lets you shape your coaching to fit them perfectly.

Because instead of projecting things on them, you see their point of view.

3. Empathy 

While listening closely, you step into empathy to really connect with your clients.

Empathy plays an important role in every coaching session.

That’s because it helps you read your client.

You can tell what your client needs at what moment. Tough love? Some motivating words? A moment of silence?

Besides connecting better, it also makes your client feel understood.

With empathy, you tune into your clients’ needs, but with the next skill you give them the honest feedback they need for success.

4. Candor

Candor is about being honest with your clients — even when it’s tough to hear (and say).

To grow, your clients need feedback when their actions don’t match their bigger goals.

When done right, this type of confrontation can be powerful.

It helps clients change and get better results.

This is also where the previous skill comes in handy. Because you need to confront with care and empathy to avoid defensiveness.

5. Leading

Besides honesty, your clients look to you for expert guidance.

You help them achieve THEIR goals, but you can’t just follow your clients — you also need to lead.

The trick here is to do this without being overbearing.

In other words: Lead your clients to lead themselves.

Rather than always fixing their problems, get to the core of the matter. And teach them to find their own solutions.

For example, is your client not doing the work without you checking in? Then that’s a motivation issue that you can address with the next skill.

6. Motivating

When we aim for something big, having someone in our corner who’s been there and done that, can be a huge motivator.

That’s your job as a coach — to make your clients believe they have what it takes to achieve their goals.

Now, to make this happen, you need to actually believe in your client.

This belief can’t be faked.

Research like the Pygmalion effect shows this: Expecting more from someone improves their performance, while low expectations hold them back.

Use this to your advantage to help your clients get results.

7. Problem solving

When a client hits a roadblock, even after following your plan, it’s time for problem-solving. 

Here, you draw from your experience to find new paths to their goal.

You need to think outside the box and adapt strategies to fit their unique situation.

Your ability to solve unexpected problems can be the difference between a client giving up versus finding a new way forward.

However, don’t simply pretend to know ALL the answers, which leads us to the next coaching skill…

8. Integrity

Integrity means staying true to your values and being honest. It’s about doing what you say and saying what you mean.

Why does this matter?

For one, your clients trust and respect you more when they see you’re true to your word.

But secondly, as a coach, you’re a role model to your clients.

When clients see you being dependable and resilient, they learn from you.

That’s why leading by example is key.

9. Boundary-setting 

We often confuse being boundaried with being mean. But in reality, you’re actually doing your client a service by setting boundaries.

Because without them, you create an over-reliant client who doesn’t learn to take responsibility. 

Healthy boundaries are also a form of self-care. They help prevent burnout.

Overdelivering is great, but NOT at the cost of your well-being.

After all, your business should bring freedom and abundance, not constant stress.

10. Intuition

Developing your intuition makes you a better coach.

Here’s why. Your intuition:

  • Builds your confidence because you’re relying on your inner wisdom, not just guesses.
  • Leads to spot-on observations that help your clients grow.
  • Grows your business by choosing the right clients and knowing when to refer them to others.

With intuition, coaching becomes a lot easier.

And when you combine it with active listening (skill #2), you get an incredibly deep understanding of your client’s needs and emotions.

11. Addressing limiting beliefs 

Limiting beliefs block progress.

What makes them especially tricky is that they often feel like undeniable truths. (Even though they’re NOT!)

Or, they’re unconscious. 

Breaking these beliefs is key to progress.

As a coach, you offer tools to change these ingrained beliefs that hold your clients back.

However, it’s just as important to confront your own limiting beliefs.

Once these beliefs are uncovered, the next step is to take action. That’s how we prove to ourselves that our old beliefs are indeed very wrong.

12. Action-taking 

Uncovering limiting beliefs is just the start.

The real transformation happens through taking action.

What we do shapes who we are.

So, encourage your clients to take small, consistent steps toward their goals.

This builds their confidence AND cements new habits. These habits are crucial in moving clients closer to their goals, rather than away.

Now, how do you know which actions to take? By working with goals…

13. Goal-setting 

Setting goals triggers new behaviors and tells you what to focus on.

The BEST goals are:

  • Specific
  • Challenging
  • Achievable

The key is to break down large goals into smaller milestones.

For example, if a client wants a better career, the high-level goal might be a job promotion or a career shift.

You map out how to get there month by month:

  • Month 1 = Develop skills
  • Month 2 = Network strategies
  • Month 3 = Prepare for interviews

And you lay out subgoals for each milestone.

This step-by-step approach sets your clients up for success instead of disappointment.

14. Organizational skills 

So far, we’ve looked at skills that are important to help your clients get results. But the next ones are what you need to build a successful coaching business.

First up: Organizational skills.

How productive are you with your time and energy?

If you’re juggling coaching as a side gig, this one is SUPER important.

Rather than trying to do it all, zero in on the most important tasks to drive sales.

15. Able to take rejection

Fear of rejection can really hold you back. But as an entrepreneur, you can’t afford to let it. 

You need to detach yourself from rejection.

What helps with that is remembering that rejection isn’t personal.

In my early days, I faced many rejections. But instead of letting them get me down, I focused on improving. Eventually, that first ‘yes’ came, along with a $5,000 client.

But when we give up too early, we don’t give our ‘YES’ the time to come through…

16. Being obsessed

Handling rejection is just one part of being a successful entrepreneur. For the best results, you also need to be a little obsessed.

Hear me out…

Setting up a business takes work. But having a healthy obsession means you’re always looking for ways to grow.

When I started, I focused on improving EVERY aspect of my business:

  • Coaching skills
  • Products
  • Overdelivering
  • Systems
  • EVERYTHING

This helped me hit seven figures so quickly.

And honestly, I’m still as healthily obsessed as ever. The main difference is that I have years of experience and everything takes me less time and effort now.

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6-Figure Coaching Business so you can achieve more freedom!

17. Backward looking

Another part of the entrepreneurial mindset is looking backward.

Not in the sense of being nostalgic, but rather of seeing how far you’ve come.

Don’t fall into the trap of laser-focusing on all that’s still left to achieve. That will only make you feel dissatisfied.

Here’s a different approach:

Celebrate your current wins, no matter where you are in your journey.

Just signed a $1,500 client? Instead of stressing about not hitting $10k yet, appreciate your milestone.

And remind yourself, “Look how far I’ve come!”

18. Coachability

Being coachable means that you’re open to learning and growth. You also recognize that there’s so much that you don’t know yet.

Working with the right coach can make a huge difference, but coachability doesn’t mean that you NEED to get a coach.

Rather, it’s about being open to guidance and insights, wherever they may come from.

This way, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. 

I discuss the concept of coachability more in-depth here:

19. Patience

To make it big, you need to be impatiently patient.

Here’s what that means:

‘Patient’ refers to having patience for the long-term goal.

Don’t set rigid goals like, “I need to have made X amount of money by X amount of time, or I give up.”

Instead of imposing unrealistic deadlines, commit to however much time is needed to make it work.

‘Impatiently,’ on the other hand, means actually doing the work to achieve your goals.

Because when we don’t take action, we end up waiting forever.

20. Able to reframe failure 

As an entrepreneur, how you handle failure matters.

Why see it as the end, when you could use it as a learning step?

It’s not “I failed, so it’s over,” but more like “I failed, what can I learn?”

Truth is, every successful entrepreneur has faced (multiple) failures.

The problem is when we dwell on these setbacks.

Instead, prepare for them, learn from them, and keep moving forward.

21. Humility 

This one is more of an attitude — but one that makes a HUGE difference.

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to cultivate your mindset for success.

This way, you avoid self-sabotaging your business.

When we don’t believe in something, the chances of it working out for us are next to nothing.

So, instead of wasting mental energy and time thinking about how things won’t work for you.

Always think: How CAN I make this work for me?

And then, take the necessary steps to make it happen.

Next steps

That’s a wrap on the 21 life key coaching skills.

Ready to put what you’ve learned into action?

Then check out my comprehensive blueprint for building a six-figure coaching business. There, I reveal how to turn these coaching skills into a highly profitable business.

Want to Build a 6-Figure Coaching Business So You Can Achieve More Freedom?

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Read more:

What Makes a Great Coach?

The Best Coaching Styles

What is Coaching?

About Luisa Zhou

Luisa Zhou has helped thousands of students build and scale their own profitable online Freedom Business. Fun Fact: She used to work as an engineer for the Space Station and holds a B.S.E. from Princeton. Click here to learn more about Luisa.

Hope you enjoy this blog post.

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