NOTE: As of 2022 the Center for Executive Coaching is now accredited with the ICF as a Level 2 Coach Training Organization. The ICF has changed their language and replaced ACTP with Level 2. We were among the first group of coach training programs to receive this accreditation, after a rigorous review by the ICF.

Eight Attributes of the Successful Business Coach

The best Business Coaches have eight attributes that define them in everything that they do. Each is inter-related, and the top Coaches balance all of them in their work. Read this list and determine if you would be a successful coach.

Relationships. As a coach, you should strive to build positive business relationships with your clients. You do this by providing value to them, serving them, being the consummate professional, having total integrity, and standing for their success.

Outcomes. You focus on results. This may seem obvious, but it is not. Many managers focus on tasks to the point that they sometimes forget where they are going. You help them focus on the end result, on the powerful, compelling future that they want to create. Sometimes you have to balance relationships and outcomes. If you push too hard for outcomes, you hurt the relationship and come across as coercing. If you focus too much on the relationship, you won’t achieve results, and will be perceived as too passive, as avoiding conflict.

Possibility. When others are stuck, mired in complaints and negativity, you create a sense of possibility. You are not unrealistic in what is possible, but your way of speaking and acting encourages people to keep pushing forward in the face of uncertainty and difficult challenges.

Stand for the client’s commitment and potential. Think of yourself as your client’s commitment and potential. That’s who you are. You are a “stake in the ground” for what your client can be and do. If the client wavers, you do not, because you are his or her potential and commitment. You represent the client’s most ambitious, noble, and inspiring goals.

Equal footing. You are on equal ground with your clients, no matter how wealthy, powerful, or accomplished they may be. You should be open, honest, and authentic about your reactions to the client’s words and deeds. If they don’t do what they say they will do, you have every right to “call them” on their behavior. This doesn’t give you free reign to judge or preach, but you should feel comfortable speaking to your clients as an equal.

Dialogue. Coaching is not about lecturing. It happens through a dialogue with your clients. It is therefore essential to be sure that you have heard your clients, explored their issues, and tested your solutions with them.

Capacity. You are not working with your clients to just get it done. Rather, you want to help your clients improve their capabilities and performance over the long term. There are many ways to build capacity: letting the client reach their own conclusions and insights; serving as an example or role model; training and teaching; providing challenging assignments; or even following the medical school model of “see one, do one, teach one.”

Street smarts. Finally, you have street smarts. You understand not just theory, but practical pathways to results. You have “been there and done that,” and you have stories to share about your successes, failures, and creative ways to improve results with limited resources.




Army Corp of Engineers

Ascension Health


Bank of America


Best Buy

Booz Allen


Bristol-Myers Squibb

Brown University

Capital One


Charles Schwab & Co.

Children’s Hospital Colorado






Duke Energy

Galveston Independent School District

General Atomics

General Electric


Harvard Business School

Home Depot

Inland Steel

International Red Cross

Johnson and Johnson



Laser Spine Institute

Lexis Nexis

Liberty Mututal



Mckinsey Consulting





National Basketball Association (NBA)




Partners Healthcare


Procter & Gamble

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC)

Ralph Lauren


Rice University

Ross Stores

Russell Reynolds Associates

Schneider Electric

Shell Oil

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory


The Ohio State University

Tom’s Shoes

United Nations

University of Florida



US Air Force

US Army

US Army Medical Corps

US Marines

US Navy






Our featured articles