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7 Essential Coach Qualities

We have pinpointed 7 Essential Coach Qualities that professional coaches should embody and integrate into their practice. These qualities serve as the bedrock of CTEDU’s curriculum and are in harmony with the benchmarks established by the esteemed coaching organization, the International Coaching Federation (ICF).


A coach sets ethical coaching agreements with clarity and cultural awareness. The central aspects of this quality are establishing clear expectations with the client, maintaining confidentiality, designing an alliance, and addressing accountability.

Skill-check Questions:

  • “How well did the coach clarify expected outcomes or address accountability on a client’s recent action steps?”
  • “How well did the coach use the TIME Model when setting a strategic or session agenda?”


A coach actively listens with empathy, using imagination and intuition while staying curious and attuned with a client to pick up on even subtle shifts in a client’s emotion. An experienced life coach asks questions designed to provoke insight.

Skill-check Questions:

  • “How well did the questions provoke new insights for the client, as opposed to seeking information or implying solutions?”
  • “To what degree did the coach recognize subtle shifts in a client’s energy, tone, or perspectives?”


A coach sees the client as the expert in their life, inviting the client to be proactive and craft both the coaching session agenda and following action steps. A coach offers expert knowledge with curiosity to empower the client and adapts coaching tools to fit the client’s unique situation.

Skill-check Questions:

  • “How well did the coach focus on the client, not the problem?"
  • “How well did the coach balance expert knowledge and information with empowering the client?”
  • “How well did the coach adapt the client’s language and adjust standard coaching questions and tools to the client?”


Coaches maintain their curiosity, especially when clients navigate intense emotions or have profound realizations. This attribute is evident in a coach's ability to delve into a deeper agenda within the TIME model, prompting clients to articulate an empowering perspective or newfound insight. Employing Powerful Questions—typically brief and open-ended, often beginning with what, why, or how—a coach encourages the client to take the lead in uncovering insights during a coaching session.

Skill-check Questions:

  • “How well did the coach ask short, open-ended questions using a balance of learn-be-do questions that address a client’s agency and pathways?”
  • “To what degree was the coach willing to lean into intuition while staying curious and holding space for the client to explore?”


A coach creates a safe space and demonstrates connection and vulnerability while also, at times, being fierce, even if that means sometimes asking uncomfortable but priceless questions.

Skill-check Questions:

  • “How well did the coach address prickly points, ideas, or observations, either directly or through sharp questions?”
  • “To what degree is the coach willing to take risks and share intuition and ideas without attachment to being right?”


A coach shows confidence in the client’s abilities by inviting the client to explore ideas and emotions in a coaching session. A coach trusts the coaching process and embraces silence while holding space for the client to arrive at useful action steps. Strong coaches are confident their clients can be accountable and self-aware.

Skill-check Questions:

  • “How well does the coach demonstrate trust in the coaching process and comfort with pausing and silence during a coaching session?”
  • “To what degree does the coach trust that the action step will come from the client if sufficient learning and insight happen?”


A coach inspires clients to take bold actions between coaching sessions and designs ways to help clients stay accountable and follow through on action steps.

Skill-check Questions:

  • “How effective was the coach at helping the client develop inspiring Well-Designed Actions?”
  • “To what degree does the action (pathways) also include aspects of learning and being (agency)?”

By cultivating these 7 Essential Coaching Qualities, coaches become catalysts for positive change. These qualities are the cornerstone of a dynamic coaching relationship, fostering trust, growth, and lasting transformation. As you embark on your coaching journey, remember that these qualities are not just tools in your toolkit—they are the keys to unlocking the full potential of individuals and teams. Embrace them wholeheartedly, and watch as you inspire and guide others toward their highest aspirations.

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