Outcome 1
2.1 - Critically explore the knowledge, skills, and behaviour of an effective coach or mentor

A mentor may use coaching skills but a coach rarely mentors 

The following information may relate to both a coach and a mentor and some are specific to just one of the roles. Julie Starr recognised certain attributes in the good coach.


The Coaching Manual

Julie Starr - 2008

ISBN: 978-0-273-71352-4

Attributes of a great versus not so great coach

Great coach


Is open/honest, e.g. ‘Look, I think this isn’t working, is it – can we look at why?’

Makes someone feel listened to, valued and understood. Coachees feel buoyant, positive and optimistic following sessions. 

Helps someone tap into their own inspiration, by questioning, listening, or simply using silence.

 Makes the coaching conversation seem effortless, i.e. maintains the conversation using appropriate responses to the coachee. 

Focuses instinctively on the key parts of a conversation, e.g. ‘Can we just stop and go back a little?’

Remains impartial and objective throughout, e.g. ‘I can see why you might think that, and I’m also interested to look at other causes of your friend’s behaviour’.   

Gently probes into a situation effectively, gaining all the relevant facts, e.g. ‘What specifically is it about winter-time that you don’t enjoy?’  

Builds a sense of ‘relatedness’ or rapport with the coachee, in order to create openness and trust. 

Supports someone to achieve more than they would normally, i.e. without focused coaching support.  

Is able to clarify the thoughts and goals of the coachee, e.g. ‘What specifically does “more money” mean, and what is it about that that you really want?’ 

Is encouraging and challenging, whilst realistic about situations, encouragement e.g. ‘Two weeks to make all the calls would be great, I’m just wondering what would happen if you got that done in a week instead – what would that feel like?’. 

Holds someone to account, in order to create a constant focus on the coachee’s objectives, e.g. ‘OK, again you said by the time we next met you’d have had the salary conversation with your manager – let’s look at what’s stopping you from having it.’ 

Is happier to achieve lasting results over time, than fast results that don’t last. 

Uses words and phrases that influence the individual positively e.g. ‘So imagine yourself speaking to an audience and this time you really enjoyed it – what would that feel like?’  

Places real importance on the coachee’s comfort and well-being during the session, e.g. ‘Look, this has been fairly intense – do you need a break, can I get you a coffee?’ 

Leads by example, e.g. shows up on time, calls when they said they would, keeps any commitments made, or makes amends when they don’t. 

Not so great coach

May withhold thoughts or information, e.g. thinks: ‘I think that’s a crazy idea but I don’t want to appear unsupportive.’

Makes someone feel weird or strange, e.g. ‘Hmm, you’re a bit of an unusual case, really, aren’t you?’  

Works hard to find the answers or solutions to the coachee’s situation themselves, leaving the coachee feeling ‘redundant’ or ‘stifled’.  

Labours to keep the conversation going or talks too much, or simply ‘tries too hard’.  

Misses or disregards key information, perhaps wanting to ‘press on’ with the intention of getting a ‘result’. 

Introduces judgement or prejudice into the coaching conversation, e.g. ‘I agree, she obviously wanted to teach you a lesson – you’re right to be angry’. 

Assumes they understand what the coachee means, perhaps to ‘keep the conversation moving’, e.g. ‘Yes, I hate winter, it’s the dark nights isn’t it?’

Causes the coachee to remain guarded, or tense throughout the conversation, e.g. feeling that they have nothing in common. 

Makes little difference to the ongoing performance or results of an individual.

Leaves key thoughts or objectives vague or unclear in the mind of the coachee, e.g. ‘OK, so you want more money, let’s look at how we’re going to get you that’. 

Creates either a lack of and challenge, or undue pressure, e.g. ‘Aww, come on, how long does it take to make a few calls? – you could have those done by tomorrow if you actually tried’. 

Allows themselves to be ‘fobbed off’ or sidetracked from issues of broken commitment, perhaps in order to maintain rapport. For example, ‘Well, that’s OK, you’re really busy, can you do it when things calm down a bit?’ 

Feels like they’ve failed if they don’t see immediate results from the coaching. 

Uses words clumsily and causes the coachee to feel negative or uncomfortable, e.g. ‘Yes, your lack of confidence does seem to be a problem’.  

Mixes considerations about the coachee with other priorities, e.g. leaves their mobile phone switched on during a session. 

Displays double standards, e.g. shows up late, uses weak excuses, isn’t prepared for the session, etc.

Now that’s obviously not an exhaustive list, although it does give you an idea of how a good coach can be distinguished from one who isn’t so good. A great coach is able to make the process of coaching look almost effortless.


To summarise, the attributes of a good coach can be highlighted in three key areas:


Principles or beliefs a coach operates from, e.g. ‘we are equal in this conversation’, or ‘I need to understand first’.

What a coach is able to do – their skills and knowledge.

What a coach actually does, i.e. their actual behaviour.


From the outside, a great coach is able to make the process of coaching look almost effortless, like an easy, natural conversation. Partly that’s because they are comfortable during the coaching process, but mostly it’s because they’ve learned to coach.


1.1 - Context, definition and difference 

1.2 - Barriers to using coaching 

1.3 - The case for coaching 

2.1  - Knowledge, skills and behaviour

2.2 - Effective communication 

2.3 - Responsibilities to manage relationships

3.1 - Review a model or process 

3.2 - Rationale for contracting 

3.3 - Exploring expectations and boundaries 

3.4 - Rationale for supervision 

4.1 - Review elements required for integrated coaching


4.2 - Analyse how benefits evaluated