Directive vs Non-Directive Coaching Styles


There are two types of coaching styles commonly practiced, directive coaching and non-directive coaching styles. Non-directive can also be called pure coaching.

Coaching can combine a mixture of approaches and sometimes the distinction isn’t always very clear.

Non-Directive Coaching Style

A metaphor to describe a non-directive approach would be that of a compass.

The idea is that the coach fundamentally believes that the coachee is innately creative and has the ability to find within themselves answers that will forward them forward in their lives.

As a less directive coach, you are empowering the coachee to call the shots – without giving your advice.

You’re allowing them to take the direction they feel necessary based on how their inner compass guides them.

This helps a coachee navigate towards an outcome, and only the coachee can choose which path they would like to go along.

The great benefit of a non-direct style, is that the client is fully responsible for results. There’s a sense of ownership of the solutions, rather than just being told what to do.

Directive Coaching Style

A coach may combine different strategies to help their clients, and may in some instances take a more directive approach.

This assumes that the coach or leader that uses a directive style has more knowledge and experience of the given problem.

If a coach is consistently taking a directive approach by providing advice to the client, they are acting more like a consultant or mentor.

The metaphor for a directive coaching style is that of an arrow.  Just like an arrow, a directive coaching style that goes directly to the problem which the client is experiencing.

With a directive coaching style, the coach usually has lots of experience with the issue the client is experiencing.

Because the coach has been there and done it, they can provides the exact steps to follow to solve the problem in the most efficient way.


In your view, what do you think is the most effective coaching style for you as both a client and coach? Why do you think it’s so?

About Aneesh Alidina

Aneesh is a Coach, Explorer and Creator.
Aneesh creates content on various topics including Deep Coaching, Business, and True Productivity.