7 key coaching principles

Coaching has become an increasingly popular method for developing leaders and maximizing performance within organizations. However, when it comes to coaching, not all approaches are created equal. To attain long-lasting results, coaches must adhere to a set of principles that are grounded in evidence-based practices – as well as tailored to the unique needs of individual clients. In this article, we will explore 7 key coaching principles for leaders who are seeking to enhance their own leadership skills – and support the growth and development of their team members.

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What are Coaching Principles?

Coaching principles are the fundamental values, beliefs, and standards that guide a coach’s behavior and approach to coaching. They provide a framework for coaches to operate within – and help to ensure that coaching is conducted in a professional and ethical manner.

Why Are Coaching Principles Important?

Coaching principles are important because they form the foundation for effective coaching practices. Specifically, they provide coaches with a framework for guiding their interactions with clients/ team members – as well as ensure that coaching is conducted in a professional and ethical manner.

Below are a few reasons why it is crucial to be aware of – and follow such principles:

  • Promote ethical behavior – by emphasizing the importance of integrity, confidentiality, and respect for clients’ autonomy, which are key elements of ethical behavior in coaching.
  • Establish a clear working process that enable coaches to deliver consistent, effective services.
  • Provide a framework for setting goals that are meaningful and achievable for clients.
  • Improve client outcomes – including improved performance, increased motivation, and better work-life balance.
  • Support ongoing professional development by encouraging coaches to continuously learn and improve their skills, which allows them to stay current with best practices.
  • Promote accountability – by making sure that coachees are held accountable for their actions and progress toward their goals, which leads to increased responsibility and ownership of their success.
  • Foster trust and rapport with clients, which can help to create a safe and supportive coaching relationship.
  • Enable effective communication, thereby facilitating better relationships and more meaningful conversations.
  • Set up a basis for evaluation – by establishing clear expectations and goals for the coaching process.

7 Key Coaching Principles

1. Beliveving in human potential

Coaching principle no. 1 - Beliveving in human potential

Success in coaching starts with the fundamental belief that every individual is unique and valuable – that they possess unlimited potential for growth and development. A skilled coach recognizes and appreciates the distinctive qualities of each person – understanding that people have the potential to achieve greatness in their own way.

World renowened leadership guru – Dr. John C. Maxwell – argues that talent alone is not enough to reach the highest level of success. Instead, faith and confidence in oneself is the critical factor that truly elevates one’s gifts. As a coach, being able to realize the potential in every person you coach may provide an extra boost to their abilities.

Belief in the coachee inspires them to work harder and refine their expertise. On the other side, such faith also motivates coaches to continually improve their skills.

The coaching process requires unconditional support and unbiased faith in the person you are coaching, irrespective of their present situation. Trust is a crucial element in liberating human capacity, which, according to strategist Sun Tzu, can be just the difference between success and failure.

2. Adding value to others

Coaching principle no. 2 - Adding value to others

Great coaches understand that coaching is a noble endeavor, serving a purpose larger than oneself for the greater good. By fulfilling this mission, coaches are no longer living solely for themselves – but for the important and worthwhile goals they pursue.

True happiness stems from experiencing genuine joy and satisfaction in living a purposeful life dedicated to adding value to others. Personal fulfillment arises from feeling part of something greater than oneself, knowing that one’s actions make a difference in others’ lives. As coaches, we recognize that our efforts contribute to creating a better world today, tomorrow, and beyond.

3. Empowering people to lead themselves

Coaching principle no. 3 - Allowing people to lead themselves

Believing in people’s potential is crucial to bring out their best. This practice aligns with Coaching Principle #1, but goes beyond just acknowledging human capacity. Effective coaches are attentive listeners who ask thought-provoking questions that enable coachees to discover solutions by themselves. At its core, coaching is about empowering individuals to lead and make decisions for themselves, rather than directly solving their problems.

Leadership starts with leading oneself before leading others. Self-leadership is one of the most valuable “gifts” a coach can offer to others.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.

Lao Tzu

True empowerment arises when you no longer seek to control others – but instead enable them to take responsibility and exercise self-determination over their choices and actions. Granting others the freedom to decide and act means holding them accountable for the outcomes of their decisions. Empowerment creates an environment that fosters self-leadership, equipping individuals with the capacity and willingness to develop mastery. This is one of the most significant objectives of coaching.

Read more: 12 Golden Leadership Principles for Attaining Excellence

4. Influencing rather than enforcing

Coaching principle no. 4 - Influencing rather than enforcing

In order to establish a successful coaching relationship, a wise coach understands the importance of empowering their coachee to take charge. The key to achieving this lies in the coach’s ability to influence – rather than exerting their power.

Influence involves motivating others to take action or make decisions voluntarily, without any external coercion. As per Laura Whitworth, co-author of Co-Active Coaching, this coaching principle revolves around discussing the coachee’s objectives and converting them into a concrete action plan.

It’s crucial to note that the role of a coach differs significantly from that of a superior. While a superior’s approach may involve instructing and using their authority to accomplish tasks, this style does not align with the principles of coaching. Instead, coaches should focus on collaborating with coachees and avoid behaving like an autocratic boss. Establishing a positive coaching relationship is essential in enabling the coachee to take decisive and enthusiastic action towards achieving their goals.

Read more: Best Coaching Books for Transformation

5. Taking on challenges

Coaching principle no. 5 - Taking on challenges

Adversity is inevitable in coaching – not to mention, it often manifests itself in various forms. For instance:

  • You may come across people who desire a consultant to provide them with all the answers they need. However, this is not the way coaching is meant to work.
  • Coachees who are unsure of what they want and where they are heading for may prove to be disorienting to work with. In each coaching conversation, they constantly change their minds, leading to a vicious circle.
  • Some people see coaching as a platform for social discourse, where they vent their frustrations without any tangible results. They believe that their superiors have provided them with a coach as part of their rights.

Every challenge is an opportunity for growth and learning. By embracing this coaching principle, you can remain motivated and be ready to employ various coaching techniques, models, and skills to overcome any adversity.

In coaching, failures are only temporary and not meant to be dwelt on – instead, focus on learning from your mistakes. When faced with challenges, try to identify the benefits and approach them with optimism. This way, you and your coachee may truly experience the joy of coaching.

6. Being passionate about growing people

Coaching principle no. 6 - Being passionate about growing people

In his book Winning with People, Dr. John C. Maxwell introduces the Boomerang Principle – which asserts that assisting others also benefits us. Despite not receiving immediate benefits from those we have coached, the gratification of supporting others is priceless.

Coaching individuals is an invaluable experience that not only helps them – but also contributes to our own personal growth. The zeal to guide and support others motivates us to reflect on and improve ourselves. To effectively help others, we must first enhance our own skills. Consequently, to influence others, we must continuously develop ourselves.

7. Learning from other coaches

Coaching principle no. 7 - Learning from other coaches

Coaches often face obstacles when it comes to receiving coaching – these include arrogance, complacency, and a lack of commitment. Some coaches may believe they have already reached the pinnacle of their profession; hence, they do not strive for further improvement. Others may become discouraged and lose motivation when the effort required to climb higher seems too daunting.

The most significant hurdle to learning is the belief that one already knows everything. This self-limiting attitude prevents us from seeking out new information and expanding our knowledge. Additionally, complacency closes one’s mind to innovative ideas – making it difficult to acknowledge and learn from mistakes. As coaches, it is crucial for us to be aware of these barriers and actively work to overcome them.

Becoming a great coach requires a continuous effort to develop new habits – and a commitment to ongoing learning and guidance from others. By recognizing and addressing these obstacles, coaches may be better equipped to refine their skills and help clients achieve their goals.

To be a great coach, you yourself need to be humble and coachable.

Jack Canfield & Peter Chee

The above-mentioned 7 coaching principles are compiled based on the first chaper of the publication “Coaching for Breakthrough Success” – by Dr. Peter Chee & Dr. Jack Canfield: https://itdworld.com/coaching-for-breakthrough-success/

Coaching for Breakthrough Success

Final thoughts

While coaching may prove to be a challenging undertaking, it is immensely rewarding for both the coach and the coachee in terms of personal and professional growth. We trust that the aforementioned insights will serve as a helpful reference for those pursuing a coaching career and aspiring to become exceptional managers.

If you’re keen on expanding your knowledge of coaching principles, we encourage you to explore our professinal certification courses and corporate training programs – designed & delivered by ITD World’s team of world-class leadership development specialists.

ITD Vietnam is part of ITD World – a top ranked provider of Talent & Leadership Development, Executive Coaching, Corporate Training & Consulting services.

ITD Vietnam




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