There are two major coaching styles that are often referred to. These are directive and non-directive or less directive coaching. However, coaching can often combine a mixture of approaches and sometimes the distinction isn’t always clear.
Directive versus Non-Directive 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 answer every question that may arise to move themselves forward in their lives.
As a less directive coach, you are allowing the coachee to make decisions as to what needs to be done, and to allow them to take the direction they feel necessary based on the direction of their personal compass. This helps a coachee navigate towards an outcome, and only the coachee can choose which path they would like to go along.
A coach may combine different strategies in helping their clients and may in some instances take a more directive approach. If a coach is consistently taking a directive approach, they are more likely to be referred to as a consultant rather than a coach.
The metaphor for a directive coach is that of an arrow. In a directive style, the conversation is directed in a precise direction based on previous knowledge or experience, and the client is shown exactly what steps or how to solve the given problem.
This assumes that the coach or manager that uses a directive style has more knowledge and experience of the given problem.