Coaching Styles in the Workplace: Ultimate Guide

By: | Updated: July 19, 2022

This is a guide to coaching styles in the workplace.

Coaching styles are methods of setting up teams for success. Coaching involves motivating employees, boosting their self-esteem, teaching new techniques for collaboration, and providing ongoing encouragement and support. Example coaching styles include vision, autocratic and holistic. Coaching style may be a powerful tool in the fight against a dysfunctional corporate culture. Understanding these styles helps managers accomplish incredible results by emphasizing personal and group development.

These styles are similar to management styles and leadership styles. You can learn more about these styles and improve your technique by reading coaching books and mentoring books.

This guide includes:

  • coaching feedback styles
  • coaching styles of leadership
  • types of coaching styles in management

Here we go!

Types of coaching styles in the workplace

Coaching leaders may use a single coaching style or a combination of techniques. Some managers even develop unique systems or concepts. However, the most successful leaders know that adapting their style to the needs of their team, employees, or company culture is the most effective method to achieve success.

Different individuals react to different management cues. Implementing diverse coaching styles will positively influence your team’s performance and growth, which is vital for accomplishing objectives. Some of the coaching styles include:

1. Vision coaching style

This coaching style promotes and enables workers by providing defined goals and tactics for accomplishing goals. This technique is like having a personal trainer because it incorporates components of feedback, reflection, and dialogue to encourage and impact team members.

When companies need quick results in high-stress or overwhelming circumstances, this strategy may effectively provide teams with a comprehensive plan to handle specific projects.

2. Democratic coaching style

Also known as participatory coaching, the democratic coaching style follows the same broad principles as democracy itself since it considers employees’ interests, concerns, and decisions in the workplace.

The manager and the employees actively set the coaching goals and techniques to achieve success. Despite the importance of employees’ participation in democratic coaching, coaches get to make the final call. With this approach, the team has more autonomy and responsibility, and the coach only gets involved when necessary. This style empowers employees and motivates them to provide an opinion. The results include improved teamwork and better decision-making.

Although highly effective, the results of the democratic coaching style may not be immediately apparent. The burden is on the team to collaborate and develop solutions collectively.

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3. Autocratic coaching style

Unlike the democratic coaching style, an autocratic coach takes a more rigid or dictatorial leadership position, and the coaching sessions often do not involve employees’ input. Autocratic coaches impose their will on their clients in this situation and create a clear division. Many experts consider this style an extreme type of transactional leadership. An authoritarian coach would typically decide all coaching techniques and procedures.

Even though this coaching style has critics, there are occasions when this approach is more effective than collaborative methods, for instance, during high stress or emergency situations. When only the coach has the competence to make critical judgments, autocratic coaching may be the better option.

An autocratic coach hardly relinquishes control and is often obsessed with excellence and perfection. Sometimes, such managers may expect employees to use one specific technique to complete tasks. The result is higher discipline and commitment from employees and a defined framework for success. However, the level of rigidity may be restrictive at times.

Employees may get disenfranchised if they have little or no influence. However, this strategy instills discipline, brings the team together, and strongly emphasizes the end goal since the approach sets clear objectives.

4. Laissez-Faire coaching style

This coaching style of leadership operates on the belief that clients can accomplish objectives and priorities with minimal instructions. If a firm hires a laissez-faire coach as an external consultant in a workplace, then the coach will consider the client the ‘primary process owner.’ This coaching style provides so much independence that many often call it an ineffective ‘zero leadership’ approach. However, the application determines the effectiveness of this style.

Many outsiders might regard the lack of direction and leadership with laissez-faire coaching as a failure to take responsibility in all aspects of the coaching relationship. An open-minded approach may notice the flexibility of behavior regarding circumstances and adjust the coaching method as necessary.

In addition, the coach’s frequent performance monitoring and feedback increase the likelihood of successful laissez-faire coaching results. Using this approach, you can help your clients develop abilities and qualities like self-management, self-confidence, and autonomy.

5. Holistic coaching

Of all the types of coaching styles in management, holistic coaching is the most popular. This coaching style strategy considers every facet of a client’s life since it recognizes the interconnectedness of several areas. A coach must recognize and address a client’s whole self to create any impact.

According to this concept, employees are a sum of components, and to thrive in the workplace, workers must maintain a healthy balance. This mindset believes that employees feel more connected to the company if they understand their function in the team and how they fit into the larger picture. Aside from bringing attention to potential work-related stressors and bad habits that limit performance, this style may also provide practical advice on dealing with troubles, such as stress management and relaxation strategies.

Holistic coaching might not bring immediate results, and there is a chance of triggering deeper emotional issues. Some of the benefits of this style include enhanced wellbeing, improved productivity, better recognition, and increased self-awareness.

6. Mindfulness coaching

Coaches who use mindfulness principles encourage employees to pay attention to emotions and ideas in the present without being critical. This style is an open-minded and receptive way to handle ideas.

This coaching method aims to teach clients how to deal with stress and anxious thoughts calmly. The strong link between mindfulness practices and decreased anxiety suggests that a coach specializing in mindfulness may be particularly beneficial for clients experiencing anxiety symptoms. Mindfulness coaching promotes clarity, awareness, acceptance, and peace of mind.

7. Developmental coaching

This coaching technique helps clients identify learning opportunities and promotes their professional development. Developmental coaches become their client’s idea partners as they try to improve their skills and achieve their objectives.

Employees who have hit a growth plateau might benefit from this all-encompassing strategy since it tackles long-standing challenges and adjusts to one’s level of development. This coaching style promotes self-actualization, long-term development, and further growth.

8. Intuitive coaching

This coaching method is relatively spiritual since it encourages workers to develop and trust their intuitions. Here, employees learn to rely on inner perspectives to define necessities and highlight their importance. These necessities are vital for purpose, survival, prosperity, and happiness. Intuitive coaches help their clients discover the basic components for success and fulfillment by paying attention to their intuitions.

9. Transactional coaching

In transactional coaching, the coach is primarily concerned with facilitating an exchange of value. This task-oriented, time-limited approach focuses on results and leaves no excuses for stumbling obstacles.

This coaching style takes three approaches:

contingent reward coaching or performance-based rewards

active management by exception or handling client difficulties and errors

passive management, which entails intervening once problems become more serious.

Active transactional coaching differs from passive transactional coaching in that this mindset is proactive and constantly monitors performance. Transactional coaching fosters performance improvement, goal clarity, improved competency, and better problem-solving skills.

10. Transformational coaching

Coaches and clients work to build a trusted collaboration where both parties deliberate on coaching objectives and methodologies. The transformational coach collaborates with the client and provides true support and honest criticism instead of setting hierarchical control.

Individual consideration, intellectual stimulation, idealized influence, and inspiring motivation comprise the four components of transformational coaching. This coaching style promotes collaborative skills, self-discovery, purpose, and cognitive development.

11. Bureaucratic coaching

This style of coaching is strict. The coach sets rules and decision-making hierarchies for employees to follow. Consequently, this style works best for highly controlled workplaces where following safety and other procedural standards are important. Bureaucratic coaching applies more to the public sector or military settings than individuals. This coaching style promotes safety, accountability, efficiency, consistency, and adherence to the highest standards of practice.

Tips for successful coaching in the workplace

In most coaching styles of leadership, it helps to ask the team for feedback, leverages their creativity, and consider their suggestions for decision-making. As a result, employees will feel more confident that their boss cares about them and seeks collaboration and engagement. Here are some important tips to consider when considering coaching.

1. Create mutual trust

You and your employee must establish a relationship of trust over time. Reliability goes both ways. As employees’ responsibilities increase, their performance will influence your trust in their skills and dedication. Micromanaging may be counterproductive. Everyone makes mistakes and fails occasionally. You can take advantage of these teaching opportunities by coaching and providing open and honest feedback. Providing guidance helps employees improve their performance. Soon, you can rely more fully on your team’s skills and abilities.

Employees will have more faith in you if they see that you are open and honest with them and care about their success. Employees’ self-esteem will soar as they implement your coaching recommendations. As the employee’s work processes and abilities improve, they will see your good intentions and trust your coaching techniques.

Here is a list of trust-building activities.

2. Make a list of your goals and objectives

Before approaching your staff, know what you want them to do. Coaching may either improve an existing process or teach a new one. Whatever the case may be, stay focused on the end goal. From the beginning, let your staff know your expectations and what you want them to achieve.

Try one of these goal setting activities.

3. Choose the right approach

Be sure to specify a timetable for reaching objectives. You should maintain a good communication line before, during, and after coaching. You can choose the optimal strategy when you understand your workers’ skills and areas of expertise. Usually, some workers will need more training on a particular subject than others. As you progress in the right direction, do not forget to motivate your personnel.

Check out this list of books on motivation.

4. Recognize that no two people are the same

Employees bring different skill sets, education, and job experience to the workplace. Therefore, managers need to take the time to figure out which style of coaching works best for each member of their team. The length of time a team member has spent working for a corporation is also a factor.

When classifying employees in the workplace, the criteria include their level of experience and contribution to the team. The goal is to help employees climb the ladder. Each person in each category needs different forms of motivation and empowerment. A wrong approach can breed resentment, confusion, and demoralization.

For instance, beginners require plenty of clarification, guidance, and information. Additionally, such employees perform better with encouragement, yet excessive undeserving accolades might be detrimental to productivity. Employees eventually stop being beginners and start contributing actively to a team with higher productivity. However, such employees can still benefit from learning through coaching. Although the praise is deserving, you can ensure further improvements with support and encouragement.

Knowing where a person is on this scale and whether they have made progress or regressed is essential to coaching your employees effectively. A good coach understands that individuals go through different phases and is willing to adapt their approach accordingly. In the event of a merger, a worker who was formerly a major participant with an expanding range of duties may see their position altered. As a result, a key team member becomes inexperienced and somewhat overwhelmed. An attentive coach can adjust their approach to inspire or motivate the employee.

5. Self-awareness over criticism

Criticism is one of the coaching feedback styles to avoid. Criticizing employees does not help them learn from their errors. Instead, managers should focus on helping their staff develop a sense of self-awareness. After finishing a major project, coaches can perform evaluation, allowing employees to answer questions related to the positive highlights of the project, what they did not like, and the changes they will make in future projects. You can educate employees on self-motivation and coaching. You can also highlight the lessons learned from a completed project for future reference and inspire further development.

Effective teams learn to make sense of evolving events and gain insight into impending results. Coaches encourage employees to think independently and develop problem-solving skills rather than relying on others to complete the work.

On-the-job self-awareness may help workers identify areas to develop or improve. Coaches can help professionals improve their weaknesses and boost their skill sets by promoting self-directed training programs. High-quality coaching can help build an excellent workplace learning culture.

Here is a guide to giving effective employee feedback.

6. Challenge their thought patterns

Teaching someone how to complete a task is not enough to be an effective coach. Coaching is also instructing a student in the art of strategic thinking. Asking open-ended questions and permitting some reasonable risks will help boost your workers’ self-confidence to develop better ideas for solving workplace issues.

The goal here is not to give employees complete control. Workers who can do tasks faster by bypassing a seemingly insignificant step are a good example of this error. Skipping stages leads to issues farther down the line. As a coach, you may challenge students’ reasoning, explain the consequences of their choice, and cooperate with them on different methods to work quicker if that is the aim.

It is critical to explain to employees how their activity contributes to the company’s overall objectives. For processes to keep moving, employees need to realize that their work is critical and their performance counts. You can motivate employees by helping them realize the crucial role they play in the organization.

7. Be receptive to coaching and feedback

Coaches also need guidance. There are instances when your communication style might seem off to an employee. You may also presume that a tactic that worked with one employee would be as effective for another team member. Coaches need to be comfortable receiving feedback and criticism since they are responsible for providing feedback to employees. Team members will hardly get upset or defensive if a company ingrains coaching into their culture. Your growth as a coach is just as vital to the bottom line as each staff member’s development.

Building a coaching culture

Many firms strive to build a coaching culture. However, when it comes to creating a coaching culture, it is not enough to merely provide different coaching options. Instead, the process is about transforming the company’s unwritten rules, norms, values, behaviors, and procedures into a mentality and practice of coaching. A coaching culture boosts the way workers cooperate with themselves and with customers and prospective consumers.

Organizations that wish to foster a coaching culture usually have some prior experience using at least one of these various coaching methods. Since the firm has experienced the benefits of coaching, the goal is to improve its culture by developing coaching conversation abilities and increasing access to coaching.


From holistic to bureaucratic, all these coaching styles may be helpful, depending on the organization, project, or team. It is important to know when to employ different coaching styles in business. Coaching styles in management come in many forms, and some management styles even shun the coaching mentality completely. Influential leaders may use any or all these coaching styles to personalize their approach, or they can go back and forth between them as the occasion demands.

Next, check out this list of training and development books.

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FAQ: Coaching styles

Here are answers to questions about coaching styles.

What are the coaching styles in business?

The coaching styles in business include visionary, transitionary, and developmental coaching.

What style of coaching is most effective for work?

The holistic coaching style is the most popular and effective style for work.

How do you improve your coaching style?

You can improve your coaching style by providing and receiving feedback, learning about your employees’ skills and abilities, and building mutual trust.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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