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11 Best Coaching Styles: The Ultimate Guide in 2024

What do successful coaching styles look like? 

The style you use has a huge impact on the value you can deliver as a coach. And there’s one coaching style I recommend above all others. 

In today’s guide, you’ll learn which one that is, along with ten other coaching styles. 

Let’s get started!

You’ll learn:

What is a coaching style?

A coaching style is how you conduct coaching sessions – including the techniques, principles, and mindset you use in coaching.

Using the right type of coaching style helps your coachees get faster and better results. 

But what type of style should you use?  

Keep reading.

Why are coaching styles important?

Coaching, when done right, can help people achieve life-long goals and improve their lives. 

I should know – I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on coaches to improve my business, mindset, and health. 

And tons of studies out there show just how effective coaching can be. In fact, a study by the International Coaching Federation found that: 

  • 80% of people who have been coached report an increase in self-confidence
  • 70% experience a boost in work performance, relationships, and communication

But you as a coach need to use the right style – in other words, learn how to coach. 

Let’s find out what the best coaching styles are. 

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What are the most effective coaching styles?

Here below are the different types of coaching styles. 

Each style offers unique benefits, but there is one that stands out as particularly effective: 


I’ve found this one to be the most powerful, and we’ll cover that one in detail at the end of this list. 

Let’s go.

Democratic coaching style

The democratic coaching style is all about shared decision-making. 

The goal is to create empowerment and ownership.

You give clients the freedom to make their own decisions. 

With that also comes taking accountability for their actions. 

Your role is to guide the process and to ensure it stays on track.

As a democratic coach, you encourage clients to explore different options. They might then:

  • Weigh the pros and cons
  • Discuss potential strategies
  • Test the impact of each choice

Because various ideas are explored, results may take longer, but proponents say that they also tend to stick.

Authoritarian coaching style

As an authoritarian coach, you take charge and make decisions for your clients.

You decide what they should do, as well as when and how. Because you explain the reasons for your decisions, clients can still learn a lot from you along the way.

For example, take a fitness trainer who creates a strict workout plan for their client. 

The trainer picks the exercises and intensity, while the client follows the instructions.

The authoritarian coaching style is useful in the following situations:

  • You need a specific outcome within a defined timeframe
  • The coachee needs structure and discipline

There are pros and cons to this.

First, your coachees might learn discipline and what goals to set. 

On the other hand, they could become too dependent on you without developing their problem-solving skills.

Some people further divide between an authoritarian coach versus an authoritative one.

The difference is the following:

  • An authoritarian coach operates with a commanding approach. They give orders and demand compliance.
  • An authoritative coach operates with a leading approach. They guide their team by example and work with them toward a shared goal.

However, many use the two words interchangeably.

Holistic coaching style

The holistic coaching style emphasizes the importance of overall wellbeing. It aims to find balance and harmony in all areas of life:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Spiritual
  • Relational
  • Financial

Clients gain a bigger perspective and feel a sense of purpose by looking at all these dimensions.

Take a client who is struggling to balance their work responsibilities with their personal life. As a holistic coach, you would take into account both their work goals as well as their general wellbeing. 

Examples include:

  • Exploring strategies for managing stress
  • Improving relationships
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Autocratic coaching style

The autocratic coaching style is characterized by a commanding approach. You give instructions and expect compliance. There is very little back and forth between you and the client.

As with the authoritarian coaching type, this style would be most effective when clients need specific guidance.

The main difference between the two coaching styles is their level of closeness. 

Both involve issuing orders, but an authoritative coach generally shares more about their vision to help clients grow.

Ultimately, an autocratic coach has more in common with an authoritarian coach than with an authoritative one.

Laissez-faire coaching style

The word “laissez-faire” comes from the French term meaning “let it be.”

As you can guess, this coaching style involves a more hands-off approach.

Laissez-faire coaching lets clients explore and grow on their own terms.

You support clients to develop themselves. Instead of strict rules, you encourage them to take control of their goals and choices. 

The idea is to promote personal responsibility, creativity, and self-discovery.

Mindful coaching style 

With mindful coaching, the focus is on being present and focused during coaching sessions.

You empower clients to uncover their own limitations and challenges. By identifying limiting patterns and behaviors, it becomes easier to make positive changes.

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Mindful coaching usually doesn’t involve giving direct advice or solving problems for clients. Instead, you help clients tap into their own inner resources to make meaningful choices.

You might also teach mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing or meditation.

Bureaucratic coaching style

Here, compliance and consistency are key.

The bureaucratic coaching style is very useful in structured environments where guidelines and protocols are important.

This coaching style is not really about individual development. Instead, it’s more about creating an organized system for a group of people to follow.

Think of a construction site where specific procedures must be followed. 

Bureaucratic coaching offers structure and routine for everyone to work together smoothly and achieve their goals.

Positive psychology coaching style

Just like positive psychology itself, positive psychology coaching (PPC) is grounded in science, theory, and research.

Its primary goal is to create a more fulfilling life that’s aligned with one’s values. 

PPC doesn’t focus on problems; it focuses on wellbeing, developing strengths, and improving performance. 

You cover every aspect of human wellbeing according to Martin Seligman’s PERMA model

These are:

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Positive relationships
  • Meaning and fulfillment
  • Achievement and accomplishment

Transformational coaching style

To me, the key to successful coaching is the transformational experience. Your coaching should focus on results instead of certifications or degrees. 

In this case, “transformational coaching” has a specific meaning. 

The transformational coaching style is about helping clients who are going through major life changes or who want a big shift in their life.

The focus is on empowering clients to:

  • Believe in themselves to achieve their goals.
  • Trust in their ability to make the needed changes.

Group coaching style

Group coaching is a great way to scale your business. But what is this coaching style about?

The group coaching style involves coaching many clients at once, either in person or online.

You bring together people with similar goals in an intimate space.

Group coaching has lots of benefits for clients. These include: 

  • Group coaching often costs less than your one-on-one coaching package so people can work with you for a lower rate
  • Group members get to connect with other people and learn from each other
  • It creates a sense of community 

In this short video, I talk more about setting up a group coaching program: 


Finally, we have coach-sulting — the coaching style I generally recommend using.

As the name implies, coach-sulting combines coaching and consulting. When you use this style, you act as both a coach and a consultant.

This way, clients get the best of both worlds

The support of a coach and the expert knowledge of a consultant.

How is coach-sulting different from coaching and consulting?

  • Unlike traditional coaching, a coach-sultant offers strategic suggestions based on their own experience
  • Unlike typical consulting, a coach-sultant also empowers clients to reach their own conclusions – you work with your clients as a team, rather than coming in and solving everything on your own

As a coach-sultant you serve as a trusted business partner who:

  • Cares about your client’s success and empowers them to grow
  • But also understands their goals and provides specific strategies to achieve them

This speeds up the learning process and leads to much faster results.

So, if you ask me: “What’s the best coaching style?” This is definitely the one.

If you’re curious to learn more, I talk about coach-sulting here:

Next, let’s take a look at what it takes to become a great coach.

How to coach effectively

Depending on which coaching style you choose, you’ll use different tools and techniques.

However, no matter the coaching style, there are some strategies you need to adopt to become a highly effective coach. 

Let’s take a closer look at the three coaching techniques that will help your clients get results. 

1. Offer a transformational end result

Each coaching package should have a clear end result — a transformation.

To figure this out, think about the following questions:

  • What changes will your clients notice in their lives once the coaching is done?
  • How can you make these changes as tangible and meaningful as possible?

Defining realistic results sets (positive) expectations. It also allows clients to measure their progress, which keeps them motivated.

Of course, we’re not talking about the end-end result here. Promising someone they’ll lose 50 pounds in three months sounds great, but it probably won’t happen.

Yet, you can still provide a clear and achievable outcome. 

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For example, if you work with people who want to lose weight, you might help them cut out sugar from their diet and start exercising to lose those first few pounds sustainably. 

2. Build your clients’ confidence

Your job as a coach is to show your clients that THEY too can achieve what they want, even if you can’t guarantee their results. (To achieve them, they need to do the work.) 

One of the reasons people come to you is that you have the experience and can help them build their confidence.

3. Be honest 

As a coach, you need to have those tough conversations. 

You help your clients understand why they’re not seeing results so that they can reframe. 

For example, a career coach might say, “You want to get a new job. We’ve mapped out the steps and the first step is to connect with person A, B, and C on LinkedIn. By not taking those steps, you’re keeping yourself from moving towards that goal.”

Those are not necessarily things people want to hear. 

But as their coach, it’s your job to have the conversations people need to reach their goals. 

Finally, let’s take a look at how you can improve your coaching leadership style. 

Improve your coaching leadership style

Want to become a better coach at work? Then this section is for you.

Great coaching can boost team performance. But research shows there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

A workplace study conducted by SHRM led to the following findings:

  • 57 percent of workers in the US believe managers need training to become better people managers
  • 84 percent say poorly trained managers create unnecessary work and stress

That’s the importance of effective leadership coaching.

One famous example of a great leadership coach is the late Bill Campbell.

Campbell worked with Silicon Valley leaders, including Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, and Sheryl Sandberg.

And in the book “The Trillion Dollar Coach” some of his clients, including Eric Schmidt of Google, outline his seven leadership coaching skills. 

These are skills YOU can master to become a better coach. 

Let’s look at each of them. 


Campbell was someone who people trusted.

And trust is what makes you a better coach. You create an environment where team members feel safe and supported. 

You also build strong relationships by encouraging open communication, teamwork, and loyalty.

Ultimately, people stay engaged and perform at their best because they believe in your leadership.

For example, Campbell got Fortune 100 leaders to open up and trust him completely. That’s because he was always in integrity and maintained close relationships with his coachees. 


Everyone who knew Bill Campbell says he was extremely empathetic. 

That’s one of the core skills of a coach. Ask yourself: “How can I understand my team members better?”

Your team members will perform far better if they feel valued and understood. 

Honest feedback 

Campbell was an advocate of constructive criticism. This isn’t surprising. After all, honest feedback is incredibly useful for growth.

It helps team members understand their strengths and areas for improvement so that they can perform to their fullest potential.

And by being empathetic, you’ll improve the delivery of your feedback. 


Great leaders are active listeners.

When team members share their ideas and concerns, do you make them feel heard and valued? Or do you sometimes tune them out or interrupt?

Encouragement and believing in other people’s potential 

Believing in your team’s potential often leads to the following:

  1. You boost team members’ confidence and motivation
  2. You inspire them to aim higher
  3. They dare to step out of their comfort zones
  4. They achieve extraordinary things

The order of these steps is important. The expectations you have of others can impact both their behavior as well as your own.

The Pygmalion effect shows us the following:

  • High expectations lead to better performance
  • Low expectations lead to worsened performance

So, if self-fulfilling prophecies are real, why not make the best of them?

Campbell was known to be a huge supporter of those he coached. He praised and encouraged them and most importantly – he pushed them beyond their comfort zones because he saw their potential. 


Prior to coaching leaders, Campbell had worked as a college sports coach and in corporate roles as a leader and CEO. 

He had some truly unique experience, which he used as a coach.

As do you. 

Use your knowledge to support the people you coach.  

Team building

The dynamics of a team determine its success. Campbell knew this all too well, which is why he focused on creating cohesive teams.

One of your key tasks as a manager is to ensure you have the right people on board. And it’s your job to ensure the team works well together. 

That’s what helps you become a stand-out coach. 

Next steps

That’s it!

Get the Ultimate Guide

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

11 important coaching styles explained so that you can pick the right one for your business.

You now know the ins and outs of different coaching types.

That said, there’s so much more that goes into becoming a successful coach and growing a coaching business.

And in my blueprint on how to build a 6-figure coaching business, you’ll learn the exact steps you need to take to build your business and start coaching full-time this year.

Get it here:

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

Get Instant Access To My FREE Ultimate Guide Below!

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Read more

The Best Coaching Questions

The Benefits of Coaching

Hold Effective Coaching Sessions

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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