What Skills Do I Need for Business Coaching?

So, you have decided that you want to become a business coach, but are not sure what skills you need to be successful? Business coaching requires a unique skill set, including being able to listen to and understand others, reflect back what you have heard with accuracy and involves having a high level of emotional intelligence.

Read on for a more detailed list of coaching and mentoring skills that you will need for business coaching.

Listening with curiosity

An essential skill for any business coach is being able to listen with curiosity. This means that you will need to convey a genuine interest in what people are saying, while actively listening and hearing what they are saying “between the lines”.

All too often people listen with lack of attention and even impatience, which can hinder any constructive dialogue that may come out of the conversation. If you are genuinely curious, don’t do all of the thinking (and talking) and keep interruptions to a minimum you will find that conversations can result in an exchange of ideas rather than simply two people talking to one another.

Goal setting

Business coaching takes a goal-focused approach to providing solutions to problems. The ability to elicit clear and emotionally engaging goals is an important skill to have in your arsenal as a business coach.

There are two types of coaching you will need to learn as a business coach, formal and informal styles of coaching. Formal coaching involves introducing goal-setting into the coaching process using SMART goals (a SMART goal is Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic and Timed). Informal coaching means that you think about and ask questions from a goal-focused mindset. Having a goal-oriented personality is essential to any successful business coach.

Reflecting back with accuracy

Reflecting back to someone with accuracy and understanding shows that you have truly been listening and taking  note of the most important information. This allows the person to check that what they have said or have been trying to get across is correct and makes sense.

You can reflect back by using paraphrasing, summarising, repeating important words and asking confirming questions. This process helps you as a coach to fully understand what your coachee is saying. It will allow you to create a more meaningful solution to their problems and give them the best guidance possible.


Having presence is not a tangible skill but is more a part of your personality. Needless to say, if you are considering business coaching as a career, you will already have enough confidence to stand in front of people and talk without feeling anxious or afraid.

You want the person who is being coached to feel as though your full attention is on them, which is part presence and part active listening. Your questions should not sound pre-prepared and you should not act as though you are simply ‘going through the motions’ when you are presenting to your audience. Concentrate on your client and let your confidence shine through, this will help you to naturally build your presence.

Emotional intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent means that you have a certain level of empathy and self-control in frustrating situations. This skill is needed for business coaches because you may have to deal with people from an array of different backgrounds or with difficult coachees.

You will need to be able to handle interpersonal relationships with integrity and understanding, as well as express your emotions clearly and calmly. This ties in with goal-setting and listening, and will improve your presence among those you are coaching. Emotionally intelligent coaches are better able to implement their strategies and adapt to situations and audiences.

Asking exploring questions

Being able to ask questions for exploration is another vital skill that all business coaches need to have. Asking questions extends the conversation and allows you to gather more information in order to provide solutions.

Asking open-ended questions allows your coachees to discover the answers for themselves, which is beneficial for all future problem solving. This will reinforce in their minds that you believe in them and that your coaching is working (which is your end goal). Being able to ask pointed and relevant questions comes with years of practice but if you build up this skill it will prove invaluable.


Coaching and mentoring business people is a unique and niche career choice. It is something that requires more soft skills than hard skills but can prove to be invaluable to those who use your services. You will need to have emotional intelligence and be able to listen with curiosity, allowing you to ask open ended question and lead a conversation. Goal setting is another important skill that you will need to cultivate, as is being able to reflect back with accuracy. Coaching someone to be the best they can be is exciting and rewarding, and is an ideal career path for motivated and confident people.

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