The 8 Key Skills For Effective Coaching

The power of coaching has been recognised in many areas for many years. Astute managers and leaders are starting to see coaching skills as a vital addition to their personal effectiveness toolbox.

So what are the key skills that managers need to develop?


When growing up we received formal education on reading and writing but not how to listen. Yet when it comes to business, listening is probably one of the most important skills to have.

If as a manager you take on the role of coach, you need to learn to listen with real focus, suspending all of your judgements and opinions. You also need to be listening not just to the words but also to the non verbal signals such as body language.


Most of us can ask questions. When coaching, you need to be using powerful questions. These are questions that:

Are short, typically 7 words or less

Are open rather than closed

Deepen the learning of the person being coached

Move the person forward towards a goal

Examples include:

What do you want?, What’s important?, What’s the first step?

Constructively Challenging

Challenging constructively is about not holding back but at the same time not destroying the relationship. Many people associate coaching with helping, which clearly it is. At the same time if the coaching never rocks the boat it just becomes another nice chat. Playing back contradictions is a great way of constructively challenging. For example:

I hear that you want to get your MBA but at the same time you seem to be resisting making the time for assignments.

Holding to account

Accountability is one of the most powerful aspects of coaching. It has been suggested that people have a 95% chance of achieving an objective when they have accountability in place. When someone gives a commitment to doing something and they know that they will be held to account, it drives them forward.

How effective are you at holding people to account as a manager?

Seeing different perspectives

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it feels like you are pinned into a corner and there is nowhere to go? If so, the chances are you were stuck in a perspective. When coaching, you need to be able to help your client to explore different perspectives, so that they can choose those that are most powerful.

Encouraging and supporting

Encouraging and supporting when coaching can be the difference between someone keeping going or giving up. Acknowledging another person is an incredibly powerful way of keeping them motivated.

Trusting and using intuition

We all have a hunch about something from time to time. The chances are that you have probably started to analyse it and make it logical or not. When coaching, your intuition is a powerful tool. Throw it out if it might be of benefit. The worst that can happen is that it is off the mark.

Keeping the focus on your client

When you are in the role of coach your focus needs to be 100% on your client and their agenda. What this means is putting all of the attention on the client and keeping your agenda out of the way.

These 8 key skills can not only help you when coaching but also make you an even better manager or leader. Take time to assess where you strengths lie and where you need to develop.

Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements helps accountants and health professionals to become highly effective leaders and managers. He invites you to take advantage of his free audio e-course Leadership Success at

About the Author Duncan Brodie

In summary since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them achieve career success and become better leaders and presenters. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

Leave a Comment:

Billy Kirsch says 4 April 2011

Well done Duncan. Challenging, questioning in an open way while being supportive are key elements to successful, coaching, mentoring or parenting. These 8 points summarize vital elements, thanks.

Perry Catchings says 4 April 2011

Great job. The summation of those leadership traits is very relevant in the establishment of a good coach and peer relationship within an organization.

Duncan Brodie says 4 April 2011


Really appreciate your comments and glad it was a helpful summary.


ania jeffries says 5 January 2016

Great post. Thank you for sharing

Virgilio A. Soriano, Jr. RGC says 7 January 2019

Thank you very much for this post. I gained new perspective and insights regarding the topic which I can share to schools designated career advocates.

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