I’m presenting a session on ‘Appreciative Coaching’ at the Coaching Masters International Summit (starts 23 March 2023).

In this taster clip I’m interviewed by Summit host Eugen Popa about the difference between ‘directive’ and ‘non-directive’ coaching – a vital distinction for coaches to understand.

If you’d like to get FREE access to the full presentation, plus sessions by over 30 coaching thought leaders including Shelle Rose Charvet, Joseph O’Connor, and David Clutterbuck, AND a 100+ page Coaching Guide, sign up here!

If you want to catch my session in particular, it starts on Tuesday, March 28th 2023 1pm EST / 6pm UK / 3am AUS (next day) – remember you have to sign up to see it!

(Note: if you’ve arrived here from the Practical NLP newsletter, or you’re an NLP Practitioner anyway, it might be interesting to think about where on this spectrum NLP coaching sits. Although the NLP coach might not be an expert in the particular performance area, they are using expertise to elicit the coachee’s thought processes and strategies, and they typically might suggest tips or exercises to help the coachee break through blocks or glitches in their thinking. So they’re not just taking a facilitator role.)

Also, I’m feeling quite pleased with myself because I’ve finally learned how to add subtitles to my videos! What skills have you learned recently? Why not tell us in the comments below?


Andy: What I’m talking about when I’m talking about coaching is broadly in line with this quote from Sir John Whitmore, the late coaching Guru in the UK:

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

So we could draw a spectrum between directive coaching, which is like sort of old-fashioned sports coaching where they’re telling you how to grip the club or the racket and they’re telling you to speed up here, slow down there, take a deep breath here, and so on, where the coach has to be a total expert in the skill that they’re coaching you on, and their role really is to instruct you and the coachee’s role is to really follow those instructions, so it’s kind of like teaching or training. So that’s one end of the spectrum.

The other end of the spectrum, and this is where I’m focusing, is non-directive coaching. So the assumption here is that the client already knows what to do, but they maybe haven’t accessed the information they need or the skills they need to be able to make the right decisions at this point. So the coach is a facilitator rather than an instructor and the coach does not have to be an expert in the field that they’re coaching you to improve your performance on.

So I have coached, for example, chief executives of local authorities and I have absolutely no idea really what they’re doing in their job, but it doesn’t matter because they know what they’re doing. They are the experts in in their job.

My role as a coach would be to ask them questions which help them to get to the information they need to improve their own performance. So we’re very much looking at the non-directive end of things and, you know, both forms of coaching work, both forms of coaching are appropriate in particular circumstances.

I like the non-directive form because it’s less work for me! I don’t have to be an expert in everything and it means I can coach anyone who is willing to be coached and this is –

Eugen: If I may interject here for a moment, I think this is the very first time I’ve actually seen a very clear explanation and distinction between the different types of coaches, right. Because like you said yourself, you know, the direct coach that basically is a coach who is an expert in the field of XYZ, so if I’m a football coach then I’m an expert in football and that’s it, that’s where I stop. Whereas with a non-directive coach it doesn’t matter what the client does, I will still be able to help them because of the principles I follow rather than because of my specialised knowledge of the client’s field of expertise or action.

Andy: Yeah! and I am not knocking directive coaches at all, we need them – you know, sales coaches for example. They can share with you all kinds of knowledge and tools and tricks about about sales. Business coaches similarly.

What we’re doing with non-directive coaching though is a slightly different thing. And in fact you can switch between the two. You can switch in and out of directive coaching, as long as you realise when you’re doing directive coaching and when you’re doing non-directive coaching.

So yeah, I just wanted to get that distinction clear. [interview continues – you can view it when you sign up to the Coaching Masters International Summit]

Thanks to Eugen Popa for hosting the Coaching Masters International Summit and releasing this clip from my presentation.

Directive vs Non-Directive Coaching – What’s the Difference?

One thought on “Directive vs Non-Directive Coaching – What’s the Difference?

  • Directive and non-directive coaching are two different approaches to coaching, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. The choice of which approach to use depends on the coach’s style and the needs of the coachee. It’s important for coaches to be aware of these differences and to choose the right approach for each situation.

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