What Makes a Good Coach?


When you’re invested in yourself and your dreams, you look for opportunities to keep improving and growing. One way to do that is to hire a coach that can help you work towards a specific goal in your career, personal life, or even spiritual life. There are no shortage of coaches out there, which makes it easy to find exactly the type of coach you’re looking for. But with so many options, how can you make sure you’re choosing a good one?

That’s why I’ve written this article - to help you understand the qualities that all great coaches posses.

If you’re looking for a coach - this list will help you while you’re researching or even meeting with a coach for a free consultation or first session. Good coaches posses these qualities, so if you run across a coach that doesn’t check out, you may want to consider moving on to someone else.

If you are a coach - this list will help you evaluate the work you’re doing. Can all your clients easily say you posses every qualification on this list? If you find you’re lacking in some areas, it may be time to revisit your training and make sure you’re giving everyone your best.

So let’s get to it! Here are the 20 qualities the every great life coach possesses!

  1. They are inspiring. When you walk away from a session with your coach, you should feel empowered and inspired. A great coach will give you that high feeling that comes with aligning with your authentic self.
  2. They are humble and practice humility. Nothing is worse than a coach that spends your valuable time and money talking about themselves. If your coach brags and boasts about their accomplishments during your sessions, it’s time to look for a new coach.
  3. They have a positive, grateful attitude. Good coaches know that life rewards the grateful. They understand that where you focus your energy and mental power is where your life will bloom. Because of this, they are evangelists for a positive, grateful attitude.
  4. They challenge without pushing. Life coaches aren’t sports coaches. They aren’t hired to stand on the sidelines and yell at you. Life coaches are more like physical therapists, they teach you how to strengthen and support yourself without ever overdoing it or causing pain. Good coaches are supportive, but never overbearing.
  5. Their passion and excitement is unmistakeable. Being a life coach requires a deep interest and curiosity for others. This curiosity, paired with a desire to help, fuels their motivation as a coach. That fuel lights a bright fire, and you should immediately feel how excited they are to be your coach.
  6. Their sessions make you feel safe. If you don’t trust your coach, they won’t be able to help you, but you can only trust your coach if they give you a safe space to talk about your problems. Good coaches achieve this in a number of ways, but most importantly, they approach sessions with a compassionate concern for privacy.
  7. They are great communicators. A good communicator isn’t just someone who writes or speaks well, a good communicator adapts their language to make sure their message is clear. Not every coach has to be a wordsmith or poet, but good coaches always know how to get their message across.
  8. They respect and cherish individuality. Coaches gently guide through inspiration and motivation, not through judgement and intolerance. You should walk away from your coaching sessions feeling proud of who you are, not ashamed and fearful.
  9. They are flexible and adaptable. Every person is unique, so every coaching session should be unique. Good coaches understand that everyone has different ways of learning, interpreting and processing, and they customize their sessions to fit your needs.
  10. They never criticize. There’s a difference between constructive advice and judgmental criticism. A coach’s job isn’t to evaluate your life choices and qualify them; their job is to help you become your very best self, which means never calling you names, demeaning you or calling out your “faults.”
  11. Their lessons apply to all aspects of your life. Maybe you’re seeing a coach to help you become a better writer or maybe even a better lover. No matter what type of coach you’ve hired, their lessons should be specific to your problem, but applicable to any related hurdles you’re facing in other parts of your life.
  12. They give you perspective. We tend to magnify what’s in front of us at the moment. A great coach will help see that, in the end, following your truth will always lead you down the right path. This perspective makes it easier to see that problems that feel big are usually much smaller than they appear.
  13. They are good role models. We trust people that we can model; it’s instinctual and hardwired into our brains. A great coach takes their own advice and visibly lives their authentic truth. Good coaches practice what they preach (though good coaches never get preachy).
  14. They live life with integrity. We talked about how good coaches are also good role models, and part of that is living a sincere, honorable life that they can be proud of. If a coach is ashamed about their current life choices, they may not be the best person to help guide yours.
  15. They never get defensive or take things personally. All good coaches know that your stuff is your stuff, however it comes out. Everyone reacts to tough times differently, and sometimes that means not being the most kind or gentle person. Good life coaches sympathize with this and can see past momentary bad attitudes. Their compassion still shows through in these moments.
  16. They don’t see mistakes, only opportunities for learning and growth. You’re going to stumble, but a good life coach doesn’t see these stumbles as mistakes or something to be regretted. When you come to your life coach with a “mistake,” you should walk away feeling empowered by the opportunity to learn and grow.
  17. They are empathetic and intuitive. Jumping off of that last point, a good life coach listens to what you're saying in between the words you’re speaking. They can feel your energy, and not in some spooky kind of way. Rather, they empathize with you and can guide you to see what you may be missing.
  18. They are self-aware. Good life coaches have a keen sense of everything. They pay attention to you and they pay attention to themselves. To guide others, you must be able to guide yourself. So, all good life coaches are self-aware.
  19. They see the big picture and the details. It’s great to have someone who can help you step back and see the size of your situations in life. It’s also great to have someone who can help you see the smallest details so you can tweak them as needed. Good coaches are both!
  20. They are great listeners. This is definitely the most important quality a life coach can have. To really understand you and your situation, they must be able to actively listen, not just to your words, but to your tone, inflection, expression, body language and what you’re not saying.

If you find a coach that is all of this and more, you’ve found a great coach, and you’ll definitely be closer to your best self after each session.

If you are a coach and your clients can say you’re everything on this list, then great job! You are an amazing coach, so keep up the good work.

What are your thoughts? Are there other qualities that good coaches must have? Have you ever had an experience with a great coach? If so, what was it like and how did it improve your life?