The Three Kinds of Coaching


In Part 1 of this series of blogs on Coaching I discussed How You Find the Right Coach for You and in Part 2 What Happens in Coaching. In this third part I want to talk with you about what people talk about in Coaching, the three kinds of coaching.

People will seek out a coach for a whole variety of reasons.

  • Some people aspire to leadership or to another level of leadership and believe that engaging a coach will accelerate that process for them.
  • Some will come to get assistance as they move through a specific situation they are experiencing in their work, for example, a crisis.
  • Some will come to develop or enhance particular skills, for example, their soft skills or their ability to present to a Board.
  • Some may want to transition from the work they are doing into another role, or even another professional sector.
  • Sometimes it is recommended by your manager that you get a coach to help you. Sometimes they pay for it!

These are just a few examples.

In my experience, there are three kinds of coaching:

  • Skill Development Coaching,
  • Performance Development Coaching,
  • Transformational and Developmental Coaching.

While each area has a different focus and purpose, much coaching blurs the edges of all three. You could well come to coaching to enhance or develop some skill but find yourself discussing quite different issues with your coach as you discover things about yourself or your workplace that you were not aware of before.

Skill Development Coaching – One Kind of Coaching.

This is exactly what its name implies –it’s about learning new skills or enhancing existing ones. Skills coaching can assist you in the development of, for example:

  • conflict management skills,
  • work-life balance skills,
  • business management skills,
  • organizational skills,
  • decision-making skills,
  • stress management skills,
  • people management skills.

Examples of when Skill Development Coaching would be used:

  • You need to improve your presentation and communication skills for an interview, new position or potential future advancement in your organisation.
  • You need to learn skills to manage difficult staff.
  • You need to become more assertive and learn to say “no”.
  • You need to be able to make quick, effective decisions and stop procrastinating.
  • You need to negotiate a new contract, maternity leave or other benefit.
  • You need to improve your time management and delegation skills to achieve a work/life balance.

Learning these skills is not as simple as learning new technical skills. You can be trained to do that. These skills are about developing you, and often what you bring to the learning – your personality, your upbringing, your emotions, for example – help or hinder the process. Part of learning these skills is learning about yourself. That takes time and slows the process sometimes. What you end up with, however, is a new, energised, empowered you!

Performance Development Coaching – A Second Kind of Coaching.

Performance Development Coaching often follows an appraisal or feedback from a manager who wants change and improvement in your performance, or who offers you the opportunity to enhance your performance.

Change and Improvement.

Your manager may suggest that you need to improve certain areas of your performance. Sometimes you may be directed to coaching to do that. There may be some anxiety for you in that, because some judgement has been passed on your performance. It’s always good in those situations, however, to avoid becoming defensive and embrace the coaching positively. You are being offered a great opportunity to grow yourself and your career. Have a good talk with your manager about what he/she wants so that you know what to work on with your coach.


Your appraisal can be very positive and your manager may see you as having a great future in the organisation. Coaching can be suggested or offered as a way for you to develop yourself for future leadership positions.

Examples of when Performance Development Coaching would be used:

  • You have been promoted to managerial level because of your excellent technical skills but are having difficulties managing your people, gaining their respect and building a united team. This is reflecting badly on you.
  • Your people are reacting to your command and control style of leadership, but you know no other way to get results. Good people are leaving the organisation because of you and you’ve been told you need to change to a more collaborative style that motivates, and empowers people.
  • Three people in your team have gone on stress leave in the past four months and named you as the source of their stress and have presented a well-documented case in evidence. The organisation’s WorkSafe insurer has asked what is being done about this and you have been asked to get coaching.
  • You put your hand up for a project that was outside, and additional to, your usual role in the company so that you could get more experience. While the manager was very pleased with what you did, you were quite challenged at times and want to work through that with a coach so that you can develop your confidence and experience.
  • While your performance appraisal went well and your manager has given you a raise in salary, you want to address the issues which were highlighted in a less positive way in the appraisal. For example,

1. You are impatient with people who don’t work as fast as you.
2. As a female manager, you are much harder on your female staff than your male staff.
3. When the pressure is on, you tend to become abrupt and off-handed with your staff.
4. You get too involved in the personal lives of your staff, trying to help them.

Performance Development Coaching involves a willingness and real commitment to exploring with your coach the values, beliefs and motivations that underpin the way you perform in your position.

If you bring a pro-active enthusiasm to the process you will learn much and grow enormously. If you come with a reactive attitude you will lose all the potential this opportunity offers.

Transformational and Developmental Coaching – A Third Kind of Coaching.


Transformational and Developmental Coaching incorporates both Skills and Performance Development Coaching, but it takes you beyond both.

It is a more sophisticated coaching process that addresses the specific needs of experienced leaders and managers who already have highly developed skills in many areas.

So if you have reached this level in your professional or career development, and your life and work are challenging, then engaging a coach who can work with you developmentally will be empowering and transformative. This coaching, depending on the coach you choose, can be more of a mentoring relationship than a coaching one.

Transformational and developmental coaching focuses on you and what is happening for you that either enhances or obstructs your personal and professional development. Its focus is more about self-leadership and self-management. It is more about going on a journey of discovery with your coach.

What you will bring to coaching will usually be what affects you deeply but which most other people don’t see or identify because you are seen to be successful, very experienced and highly competent. It is not therapy but a very reflective process that you lead.

Transformational and developmental coaching is a process and a journey, not an event or a destination. It takes time.

Transformational and Developmental Coaching can focus on:

  • addressing the more personal and intimate issues that you see affecting your performance,
  • understanding yourself and your deepest yearnings,
  • bringing meaning and purpose to your personal, professional and business life,
  • enhancing intangible qualities like integrity, character, resilience, wisdom,
  • strengthening your emotional intelligence,
  • gaining greater awareness of your inner strengths and resources and how to use them most effectively in both your personal and professional life,
  • developing your ways of being and knowing, rather than just focusing on your ways of doing,
  • enhancing self-awareness through self-reflection,
  • creating congruence for you between who you are, what you believe and value, what you do and how you do it.

If you engage in this type of coaching, you will want a coach you can trust completely, a coach, highly skilled in facilitating change at deep personal levels, a coach who him/herself has undergone transformation and personal development. You will need to choose a coach who is very experienced in understanding and working with human behaviour.

Transformational and developmental coaching is a process and a journey, not an event or a destination. It takes time. It is an on-going process. It asks a long term sustained commitment from you for which you will be richly rewarded.

If you are interested in transformational and developmental coaching, check out my Lead From Within program to find out how it could work.

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