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The Nine Principles of Effective Coaching

Posted By: Mike Fitzgerald | Posted on: 07-18-2019
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Many companies use the terms interchangeably, but coaching is not mentoring.  The coach is oriented to change as opposed to a mentor, who is oriented towards growth.  In coaching, the relationship with the client generally has a set duration.  A mentoring relationship can last for a long time.

Coaching is generally more structured and meetings are scheduled regularly.  Mentoring meetings can be more informal and might happen only when the mentee needs or wants advice.  Coaching is more short-term and focused on specific issues or development needs, whereas mentoring takes a longer-term view and a broader view of the mentee’s career and personal development.


In every relationship, transparency and fairness are absolutely necessary to create the trust between coach and client for future efficient coaching sessions.  And in every case, there are nine principles to follow for an effective coaching relationship.

The nine principles are:

  1. The learning relationship is at the heart of change: this means that learning and change occur through the relationship with the coach. The coach and the client engage and relate and if the coaching is efficient they connect. ”In a learning dialogue there is, on both sides, a willingness to share perspectives, to listen, to understand, to be open to new ideas and to take joint responsibility for the conversation and the outcomes.”
  2. The context is work: “Short and long term issues are often interrelated” An efficient coach will understand the complex and whole person of the client, and will know enough about the client’s work context to be able to facilitate exploration of issues.
  3. The client sets the agenda and is resourceful: Because coaching is about the client he sets the agenda of the process. This, for some clients, may be easy, empowering or for others rather difficult, and is basically about what the client wants. This represents one of the first steps of the coaching process and may be rather straightforward and demanding. The next step, once the agenda is set, is helping the client identify his internal or external resources needed for the desired change and development.
  4. The coach facilitates learning and development: The coach is a facilitator and he supports the client to learn and develop. “The client learns by acquiring new awareness, insight, skills, ideas and knowledge. Development involves integrating their learning into the way they are.” The efficient coach will ask good questions that provoke new perspectives and change in the client. Also an efficient coaching should be the catalyst for learning and action between the coaching sessions not a substitute.
  5. The outcome is change: The coaching process is about change, and change provokes resistance that is a normal reaction. “Effective coaches work with client resistance, rather than try to overcome it.” Resistance is used in helping the client clarify his values and goals.
  6. The framework for the change process provides movement and direction: The framework provides a map for the coaching process and offers reference points and a sense of direction. This should be used only when helping the client or rather set aside than constraining the client development.
  7. The skills develop insight, release potential and deliver results: An effective coach knows how to use the skills in an integrated way within the learning relationship and has a repertoire of tools and techniques to offer appropriately to the client in order to support their learning and development.
  8. The qualities of the coach affirm, enable and sustain the client: The coach models a way of being which is both human and professional and offers the client the possibility to learn through them. The client that experiences affirmation and positive challenge from a coach is likely to value themselves more, and therefore value others that impacts on his personal and professional life.
  9. Ethical practice safeguards and enhances coaching: An effective coach will work within ethical codes. This fact will give the client a safeguard, feeling secure.

Adapted from:  Effective Coaching:  Key-Factors That Determine The Effectiveness Of A Coaching Program (2015), Maria Hermel-Stanescu, University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania.

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Mike Fitzgerald 16 Posts

Fitzgerald MSI provides clients with a talent management framework that helps them make better hiring, advancement and talent development decisions. We identify how people process information and make decisions, predict how they are motivated, and suggest how well they fit into the client’s culture. We help clients select the right people, and accelerate the onboarding and assimilation process to make them more productive, more quickly. And we help clients improve relationships among and between teams, manage training and development gaps, and identify next-generation managers and executive leadership. Mike Fitzgerald, the president of Fitzgerald MSI, created the company in 2002 to help clients achieve peak performance to improve the client experience, improve efficiency and productivity and enhance revenue. Clients include E *TRADE, TransAmerica, Direct General Insurance, HardlandClarke, Cendant Corporation, State Bank Financial Corporation, ING DIRECT (now Capital One), CHD Meridian Healthcare, Radio-One, Wilmington Trust Company, and more. Fitzgerald is a former chief talent officer, president and CEO, chief operating, officer, and sales, leader. He is a certified practitioner in the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) and Hogan assessments. He’s been a consultant to Fortune-100 companies, startups, turnarounds, and served as an executive officer for companies as large as $4 billion. He’s an Economics graduate from the University of Massachusetts, a frequent speaker at industry events, and the author of three books on service quality, client experience management, and business communications.