Qualities of a good coach

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Choosing a coach or therapist can be an important decision, financially and emotionally, and is therefore a little daunting.

It can also mark the beginning of a personal transformation journey.

What are the qualities you need to look out for in a coach?

First and foremost, you have to like them – the ‘chemistry’ is key to creating a successful coaching relationship.

But if someone doesn’t reveal much about themselves, how can you know whether or not you like them?

1) Openness

Perhaps by asking a few questions and testing their openness. If they don’t state it on their website, you can ask about their background and why they chose to train as a coach.

2) Humility

Humility is the ability to remain teachable. Like parents can learn from their kids, and teachers from their pupils, coaches can learn from their clients. It’s about participating in the process as an equal rather than from the standpoint of the dogmatic expert. It’s also about self-awareness: the key to emotional intelligence and a skill that requires constant vigilance.

3) Emotional health

Nobody is fully healed, but a good coach or therapist will have resolved most of their emotional issues. And there’s a big difference between resolving one’s issues and ignoring them. Someone who always appears happy isn’t necessarily a healthy person: they may well have dissociated from their traumas.

4) Autonomy

By autonomy I mean independence of thought and action, as opposed to being swayed by external influences. Also, if someone relies on medications to regulate their mood, they might not be in the best place to help others; unless they have a serious mental health condition, in which case the drugs are more than just a ‘crutch’.

5) Creativity

Adhering to coaching models, such as GROW, isn’t just restricting – it is downright stifling. When we follows patterns, we inevitably become stagnant. Coaches must be capable of creative and critical thinking.

6) Authenticity

In order to look the part, some coaches will hire expensive practice rooms and charge ridiculous amounts of money for their services. But – are price and quality directly proportional to one another? In my experience, when it comes to the helping professions, the opposite is often true. When someone truly wants to help others, they will try to make their services affordable to a wider range of the public.

7) Courage

A good life coach won’t be scared of challenging his or her clients, at times even at the risk of losing them as clients. It almost goes without saying that tact and empathy are crucial qualities to look out for in a coach, but courage and integrity are equally important if you want to achieve any substantial change.

8) Presence

Last but not least – in fact possibly the single most important quality for a coach to possess – is presence. It is only when the mind is calm, centred and focused that we can hold space for another person and have the necessary insight to help them get unstuck.


Nico De Napoli – Coaching