The 5 Components of Coaching

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The 5 Components of Coaching

What are the key elements of effective coaching?

By Lucia Baldelli, MCC

In my career as an Enterprise Coach, I have often coached leaders with a high status. Quite soon I came to the conclusion that coaching can be effective only if it is seen as the relationship between two equal human beings. I also noticed that most of the coaching models and frameworks have something in common. There are some essential elements that make coaching relationships successful and transformational. In this article I will unpack the essential 5 components of coaching, explain what they are and why they are important.   

The 5 Components of Coaching

What are the five most important components of coaching, that make it successful? Coaching is a human encounter with someone who shares their challenges with vulnerability and having the courage to do some work together, so that they can get insights and move forward. Coaching is also very different from other service professions, as we described in our previous post about what coaching is and what is not.

coach raising hand with 5 to indicate the elements of successful coaching

I have come across many models and frameworks and, regardless of what I use, I have noticed some essential elements of successful coaching that most of them have in common. I am adding the first one that, I believe, can make a difference.  

Being human, despite the status

It is quite easy to be seduced or intimidated by status. And when this happens to a Coach, it is really difficult to be impactful. If we look at an executive and we see a very successful person, we are likely to be biassed and miss some of the concerns, fears, limiting thinking patterns that are hindering their success. If we look at an executive and we are intimidated by the difference in status, we are too small in the room and are likely to lack the courage to challenge and give feedback. We do notice, but we do not dare to share. 

Coaching is a conversation between two human beings. This is the most important coaching element to keep in mind. Everyone with doubts, fears, concerns and emotions because they are just part of human nature. If we look at them as humans, we are equal in the room and it is easier to have a transformational conversation about one of us. 

Building the Coaching Relationship

Coaching is not a one off encounter. It is a relationship that unlocks someone’s potential. That relationship needs trust, vulnerability, courage, respect, direct feedback, and care to be effective. If you want to explore building a coaching relationship, you can read more in our article.

“Trust is the one thing that changes everything” shares S. R. Covey. Without trust, any coaching conversation will be transactional and will never reach the heart of the matter, as explained by Ian Day in the following video.

If we want these conversations to be truly transformational instead of transactional, we need trust in one another and trust in the coaching process. Deepening trust during the coaching relationship means taking the relationship to a new level. With trust we can do more impactful and meaningful work. We explored how to build trust in a coaching relationship in a recent article.    

Identifying the Problem and Establishing the Objective

Contracting the work we will do together and establishing the goal of the relationship is essential to start in partnership. The ICF Core Competency 3 on Establishing the Coaching Agreement has two facets. The former is about setting boundaries for the involved parties until the agreement ends: terms and conditions, service fee, coaching hours, etc. Defining what the scope of the engagement, setting goals, and determining how to measure goal achievement keep the coaching relationship focused on achieving results. The latter is about establishing the goal of the work we are doing together today and in every session. 

If you are curious about what partnership means in coaching and how to demonstrate it throughout the relationship, not just at the start, you can read our recent article.

Action Planning

The right balance of challenge and support can evoke new awareness and that can be turned into action. We can hear that from the words of Ian Day, co-author of Challenging Coaching, in the following video.

We can challenge them by noticing thinking or behavioural patterns, limiting beliefs and assumptions. We push them into the Zone of Uncomfortable Debate, as Blakey and Day called it. This is an important part of the coaching process because it is where transformation can happen.  

The coach holds the client accountable for choosing their own action plan, support mechanisms and fallback plans. The coach should also stay away from assigning homework, giving input or being part of the client’s accountability mechanism – e.g. reminding him to do something. 

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Feedback and Success Measurement

At times, we provide honest feedback focused on the areas of development of the client. This takes courage and requires high trust, otherwise we might risk breaking trust. 

We also need their feedback on whether we are on track to reach our destination before the end of today’s session and before the end of our relationship. Checking in is a great way to do that. 

If you want to know more about the power of checking-in in coaching you can read our recent article.

Finally, we need to know if we arrived at our destination. If we worked well in defining success for the coaching engagement, we also have a way to verify whether we have achieved the agreed objective.  


Regardless of your coaching approach, reflecting on its key elements with a peer or with your supervisor can be a great way to enhance it even further. You might identify what makes your style unique as well as reflect on what you need to change to be more effective. Just be intentional about it!

If you want to explore this more with us, we are happy to take your coaching game to the next level in our upcoming course Deepening Conversations. In this advanced course you will learn how to demonstrate artful partnership and confident presence in your coaching conversations to deepen connection and trust with clients to enhance their progress.


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