Coaching is commonplace in many organisations. However, there is a multitude of types of coaching, each with slightly different purposes, clients and approaches. I attempt here to provide some clarity between the types of coaching and a purity to each. I recognise though, different coaches will have their own views on each…

It’s important that coaches are clear with potential clients about the type of coaching they offer, enabling clients to make informed choices to identify the best fit for their needs. Here we will focus on 5 types of commonly used coaching phrases :

  • Business Coaching
  • Performance Coaching
  • Executive Coaching
  • Workplace Coaching
  • Life Coaching
  • and Mentoring…

Business Coaching

Business coaching focuses on working with business leaders to help shape their vision, business goals and their strategy. Clarifying with the business leader where they would like to take the business and how to prioritise to achieve this. Helping the leader to create their business plans, objectives and activities.

Business coaches challenge business leaders thinking, focus, accountability and direction. They track the leader’s goals and KPI’s as they progress on their business journey.

The focus is primarily on business activities rather than leadership behaviours, though there might be some element of this as the leader uses ‘softer skills’ to be successful.

Business coaching also focuses on bringing a work life balance to business leaders, as well as challenge around different ways of maintaining and enhancing profit. Similarly, business coaches will share their experiences gained in running businesses. Helping diagnose issues, ways forward and how to maximise business opportunities.

Whilst business coaches may have a lot of experiences and expertise in business, they do not tell or instruct business leaders in what to do. Nor should they act in a consultant role.

Performance Coaching

Performance coaching may sound more suited for sports! However, performance coaching forms the majority of coaching that is happening in organisations. The purpose of this coaching is to be a shorter-term intervention with the aim of improving day to day organisational performance of individuals and teams.

Areas where performance coaching can be effective – link?

Coaching is not remedial. It can work with employees where their performance is below expectations. However performance coaching recognises that employees are performing, it’s just that they need to be performing better.

It recognises that employees have an existing skill sets and behaviours. However, something is preventing the employee from fully utilising these skills and behaviours. For some it might be about recognising the abilities they have and using them better (using their potential). For others it might be about removing some of those interferences to good performance – confidence, relationships, self-management, fear, previous experiences. Tim Gallwey in his book ‘The Inner Game of Work’ defined what he called the ‘performance equation’.

Performance coaching focuses on developing and challenging skills, behaviours, mindsets and approaches of employees. Creating goals with their clients, and working with them to transform their performance through focused questioning, challenging norms and developing creative ways forward.

Within performance coaching lies Leadership Coaching and Management Coaching. The process here is the same. However, the focus is upon particular competencies, behaviours and situations unique to these roles.

Workplace Coaching

Workplace coaching is more of a generic term encompassing performance and executive coaching. It often refers to the use of an internal coach, rather than external. It can also refer to the ‘manager as coach’ role that managers fulfil within their management style.

Executive Coaching

The clue is in the title here! This coaching is aimed at senior leaders or key senior contributors within businesses. The focus is around organisational performance and development with a strong element of personal and leadership included. As the latter two often influence the former. The coach brings greater awareness to the person, progress and behaviours. They focus leaders on their organisational, leadership and people roles as they relate to goal setting, personal change and development.

Executive coaching deals with the unique complexities that senior leaders face. In order for them to make more informed decisions around organisational development and their leadership.

Understanding leadership to achieve deeper personal insight and application. In order to increase their effectiveness and transfer learning to organisational and people growth.

This type of coaching may touch on elements as identified in Business Coaching.

Life Coaching

Life coaching takes a more holistic approach to people. It is mostly not set in a workplace context. The focus here is upon personal development, growth and change. Helping people to identify and achieve personal (life) goals and direction. Identifying obstacles and challenges, discovering ways forward.

The coach here facilitates discussion, inspires and looks to develop internal confidence and motivation for the person.

Finally, Mentoring…

Yes you are right, it isn’t a type of coaching and that’s the whole point. Many people, organisations (and even some coaches!) confuse the two. Coaches and mentors may well share a similar skillset, but their focus is very different.

Coaching is focused on improving shorter-term employee and team performance.

Mentoring is a longer-term activity. A client will work with a mentor because they have credibility (experience) in a particular role, organisation or field. Typically time spent here will focus on areas of leadership, career or following a particular specialism path. Mentoring is more about longer term aspirations.

These days types of mentoring includes – peer to peer, women in leadership, retirement, graduate and talent mentoring.

In summary, coaching is a powerful development approach and tool. Coaches need to be clear on the type of coaching they offer and clients need to find the best fit for them. Hopefully I have made the field of coaching a little clearer…

Interested in finding out more or becoming a coach? Contact Abintus today and have a chat with us. Check out too our coaching courses

Nick Howell is a qualified coach, coach trainer and leadership specialist. He has worked with thousands of leaders and manager of all levels. Developing their skills, knowledge, behaviours and mindsets to make a difference to their people and organisations.