Attributes of a Master Coach – Requesting Input…

Hi there.  I’m working on a piece about coaching in a business setting.  I am, of course, relating business coaching to athletic coaching.  The way I see it, the commonalities between the two really get at what makes a great coach great.  Or a Master Coach masterful, depending on your semantic preference. 

Below are the attributes of a great coach that I’ve written up with some specific competencies (sales pitch – from our TMS Competency Model).  Where I’m l0oking for input is in the attribute statements.  Based on your experience as a coach or coachee, whether in athletic or business settings, let me know if I’m missing anything major or if I look totally off base.  I don’t think I’m totally off base, but let’s see what you people of the interwebs have to say about that.

Here we go…

Attributes of a Master Coach:


  1. Has obtained and maintains a high level of technical expertise in the area they are coaching.

Ö        Technical Aptitude

Ö        Functional / Technical Skills

Ö        Initiative

  1. Can accurately assess an individual’s capacity often before they can and seeks to leverage this capacity for success.

Ö        Assessing Talent

Ö        Visioning

Ö        Ambition

  1. Sets the bar appropriately high for long term goals and breaks those down into achievable intermediary targets.

Ö        Thinking Strategically

Ö        Goal Setting

Ö        Judgment / Decision Making

  1. Collaborates on ways to close the gap between current skills and targets.

Ö        Encouraging Others

Ö        Developing Others

Ö        Problem Solving

  1. Motivates people to continue the work that leads to higher performance levels.

Ö        Managing Execution

Ö        Motivating Others

Ö        Directing Others

  1. Implements feedback loops to keep track of progress against targets and enabling refinement of the plan as necessary.

Ö        Confronting Others

Ö        Adaptability

Ö        Continuous Improvement

  1. Fully invested in the coached employee’s (or athlete’s) positive outcome.

Ö        Leading Courageously

Ö        Integrity / Trust

Ö        Relationship Builder

  1. Presents self as a role model for success and achievement.

Ö        Credibility / Values

Ö        Self-Awareness / Confidence

Ö        Openness to Others

Comment away, por favor.



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7 comments to Attributes of a Master Coach – Requesting Input…

  • In thinking about my favorite coaches over the years (both athletic and in business), the #1 thing that comes to mind is a feeling of mutual respect. When I have a high degree of respect for my coach, I want to please him/her, so I will work harder to do so than if I didn’t have such a high degree of respect. To that same point though, if I feel my coach/boss is lacking respect for me *at all*, my motivation to produce for him/her is severely hindered. For whatever thats worth…

  • For me, what comes to mind immediately, is the importance of communication. You’ve address that with the feedback model. But communication is a TWO WAY system…so good communication between the coach/coachee is crucial to overall success. Great list…

    Hope that you’re feeling better after the Remy/tooth incident. :) I would probably loose it as well…I think its MUCH more difficult being the parent/responsible one/aware of consequences vs. growing up. Then again, I made it through the “younger” years and have yet to be a parent… Keep up the great work Alicia!

  • I love it that Michelle and Marit responded – 2 athletes I coach! HAD to respond to this one…AP I love the way you think b/c it is like your mind and my mind think so differently. I tend to think subjectively and you objectively – which is a nice balance/yin/yan.

    A few things you left off:
    1.) communication (Marit said it).
    2.) ABSOLUTE belief and full blown #1 cheerleader – reliability of support from coach and coachee.
    3.) Empathy. This is SO big. I spend a huge chunk of my time really listening to athletes talk about their daily struggles to fit workouts in, eating issues, recovery issues, fitting in being mom, work and training….If I am NOT empathetic, they can tell that and it does us no good.
    4.)I always say it is hard to motivate others (even though I think ironically this is a big part of my job) but rather I try to inspire.
    I may have more and will add more as I think of them. Hope this helps a bit. :)

  • Good stuff. Thanks ladies! I’ve made some changes to the document as a result of these. :)

  • Angela Kidd

    I’ve had a lot of coaches over my life and have seen both great and terrible. Right now I have a great boss at work and a great coach and I like both of them so much for very different reasons but the one thing they both have in common is that there is no bullshit, they are both blunt and to the point. I really respect this.

    The one thing that my most disastrous coach and most abusive bosses have had in common is not trusting those they coached/managed. Good coaches and bosses aren’t afraid of letting people fail/mess up (and trust them enough to know that any failure won’t be truly disastrous) but they know how to teach people to learn from their failures.

    And I hope you have recovered from Remy’s chipped tooth. I think all this stuff is so much harder on the mom than on the baby.

  • We have a term for this – business athlete. A sports athlete is aiming for peak performance in his or her chosen game whereas a business athlete is aiming to step up his business to the next level of success.

    Remember success is not by chance, it’s by choice! :)

  • To Making The Best Better Team:

    Thanks for drawing my attention to another model where business and athletics coaching are melded together and marketed to business leaders. I’ll take a look at the Making Best Better website to get a sense how your program works.

    I also happened across a similar program called the Corporate Athlete at Since both of these programs incorporate areas of great interest to me, it will be quite instructive to see how others are making a viable business out of athletics/business coaching. I aim to do something similar within a few years, but am still getting a fix on how I might bring my specific talents to bear.

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