Coaching Skills
John Oughton
Centennial College
Today’s Learning Outcomes
Recognize what coaching is, and is, not
Understand foundations of coaching skills
Reflect on and observe some principles
Observe and analyze coaching demo
Practice and observe mini coaching
Coaching is Not the Same as:
“Coaching is
..not telling people what to do; it’s giving
them a chance to examine what they are
doing in the light of their intentions.” –
James Flaherty
• Uses listening, questions, reflection of
coachee’s statements/feelings, and
intuition to help coachee find own answers
• Assumes coachee already
has the knowledge and skills
necessary to solve own
problems, make decisions
and answer questions
Special types include
Life coaching
This is a general approach useful for many
situations/relationships -- between peers,
manager/staff, teacher-student
May be done effectively over phone or F2F
Benefits of Coaching
• Increases self-awareness
● Makes people more self-directed
• Promotes accountability and commitment
• Overcomes “dump and run” syndrome
• Increases organization morale, quality of
Coaching Traps
Believing coaching is remedial
Feeling need to be expert
Being too directive
Staying in problem-solving mode
Pursuing your own agenda
Lacking awareness of own
• Not setting agenda and
1. Empathy: being able to communicate
authentically what you hear and feel of
another’s experience. Putting empathy
into action: Reflect what you’ve heard,
then ask question, empowering speaker to
Coaching Foundation 2
Coachee has the answers
• Can find them even when convinced
he/she can’t
• Coach asks questions to illuminate
answers that may be hidden
• People are more satisfied/ compelled/
resourceful when using own answers
Foundation 3
Listening: being present with what other is
saying without passing judgment
Listening Levels:
• 1. Attention is on me (own goals are primary)
• 2. Attention is on coachee: no internal chatter,
aware of other’s every word and nuance
• 3. Global listening: Attention is on space/energy
around and between people, underlying moods
and tones as well as words, gestures, body
language, etc.
Foundation 4
Intuition: learn to recognize when own intuition
is working (what does it feel like?)
• When you have a hunch about other’s feeling,
perception, etc., blurt it out and then ask if that
echoes anything for the coachee
• Even if not accurate, this may trigger a honest
response about where
coachee is
Foundation 5: Curiosity
A way of discovering, focusing attention on a
specific direction
Helps others discover who they are, what’s
important to them
Use open or general questions, rather than specific,
for self-exploration
Specific question:
what courses will you
General question:
what would you like to
learn more about?
Foundation 6: Powerful Questions
These put curiosity into action
Usually no more than 7-8 words:
“What’s stopping you?”
Special types:
Intruding: head off an-overly detailed answer or excursion
What’s the payoff for you in that?
What’s another way of looking at this?
What value are you (not) honouring here?
Inquiry: get the coachee thinking for a while (e.g. until next
session): Could you look up some options and choose
three to discuss next time?
Foundation 7: Acknowledgement &
Acknowledgement: recognizing (not
judging) someone for who they are or who
they are becoming, not only their actions
-shows sincere interest in/respect for other;
validates their experience
Championing: expressing belief that people
can overcome self-doubts or fears and
accomplish something; articulates their full
Foundation 8: Accountability and
Accountability: Asking coachee to account
for achieving plans/intentions. Uses three
• What are you going to do?
• By when will you do this?
• How will I know?
Commitment: asking coachee’s agreement
to follow through on action/reflection
The Saboteur
Inner critic that stops us when we are
thinking big and wanting to move forward
Protects us and the status quo
Some favourite sayings:
“You can’t…
You shouldn’t, mustn’t…
This is the way it’s always been”
Career and Life Wheels
• Activity 1
In the Immortal Words of Coach..
• Yogi Berra (New York Yankees):
“You can observe a lot by just watching”
Coaching Demos
Activity 1:
5-10 min. coaching demo
Observers use feedback sheet
Coach and coachee debrief
Coaching Practice
Activity 2:
in groups of three, take five-minute turns
playing these roles:
● Coach
● Coachee
● Observer
After each mini-coaching session, observer
describes what he/she saw, then all switch
Coaching Certification
Available through many organizations in
Toronto, including:
• YWCA: Life Skills Coaching 1 and 2
• OISE Adult Education and Counselling
Psychology /Adler Institute: Professional
Skills Coaching
• York University/Schulich Executive
Education Centre: Certificate in Coaching
Skills for Managers and Directors.

Coaching Skills - Loyalist College