11 Essential Skills That Every Successful Life Coach Has In Spades

Whether you’re looking to become a life coach or actively working with clients, these are the 11 essential skills you should focus on developing to wow your clients and build a successful practice. 

While many of them may come to you naturally…if they don’t, don’t fret! Many professional coaches learn and master these skills throughout their coaching careers. 

Just know that when you combine these characteristics and business/coaching skills, you’ll become the very best life coach you can be!

What are the qualities of a good life coach? What skills make a successful life coach?  


Most life coaches naturally have a high degree of empathy since a large part of the coaching allure is finding a fulfilling career helping others.  

That’s important because, as a life coach, people can come to you in difficult circumstances. They may be facing adversity in their career, relationship(s), health or mindset, and your role is integral in helping them cope with those obstacles.  

So, it’s essential that you can make them feel secure, seen and supported. (Without coddling them — more on that later!)


Life coaching is a vulnerable process, so the success of a coach-client relationship is grounded in cultivating trust and demonstrating high levels of integrity.  

Practical ways to build more trust with your clients include: 

  • Maintaining client confidentiality at all times — and if you want to share anything about client sessions in your promotion or marketing, do so with permission. 
  • Showing up for your coaching calls on time. 
  • Following through on what you say you’ll do — whether that be sending over reading recommendations, a coaching contract or an invoice. 
  • Being non-judgemental and keeping an open mind on your coaching calls. As soon as you’re judgemental (for example, exclaiming, “Why would you do that?”), people will shut down immediately. 

Doing these things consistently will help you nurture positive coach-client relationships and, in turn, create a stand-out coaching practice.


Modern life coaching has evolved to include therapeutic techniques such as NLP or Positive Psychology. If you have expertise in a specific field or area or a set of philosophies you want to teach, sessions may include mentoring.   

So, successful life coaches have to be willing to share what they know with people — whether in business, marketing, management, parenting, relationships, health, mental health (or whatever you’re coaching on). No knowledge hoarding here! 

Part of what your clients are hiring you for could be your expertise and your ability to distil that to help them move forward in their life.


Every coach has a different coaching style, but at some point, you have to challenge your client for them to grow. After all, the purpose of life coaching is to move your coaching client from A to B — such as going from being unemployed to embarking on a new career path. So you’ve got to help them move forwards! 


Of course, you cannot physically make a person do something. But within every great coach is a willingness to get a little assertive when needed and encourage their clients to stretch beyond what’s comfortable. All while holding them accountable for their actions. 

Challenging your clients like this will help them take responsibility for their future — and that is worth its weight in gold. 


That being said, as a life coach, your role is not to pummel someone into action. It’s challenging to create life changes! That’s why giving a little encouragement to your clients goes a long way. 

Multiple studies on the power of positive reinforcement have proven that it significantly improves behaviours and motivation wherever applied — from the classroom to the home to the workplace, for both kids and adults. So as a coach, you must be generous with praise and celebrate your client’s successes (however small a step they take forward). 

Not only will this serve your clients by boosting their motivation, building traction as they move towards their goals, and helping them feel good in the process. They’ll also feel great about working with you too! It’s a win-win.


As a coach, you’re guiding your clients on a journey of self-development. So it works best if you’re passionate about personal development too!

During your coach training, you’ll learn things about human behaviour that you rarely get exposed to anywhere else. This includes the 12-Step Coaching Model, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Hypnosis.  

The more you explore these things in your own life, the better. Because you’ll naturally bring that curiosity about human psychology and focus on growth and personal development to every client you work with.


No, you absolutely don’t have to be perfect — all you need to do is practice what you preach. 

Being a positive role model may become a significant element of your marketing as a life coach! You can share more about your personal life, your story and the lessons you’ve learned that make you a better coach or the principles you use in your own life to help you in the area you coach on.


Every successful life coach has to be a pro at organising their time and schedule. 

After all, you’ve got to manage administrative aspects of your business (including client onboarding, emails and invoicing) and stay across the marketing activities that will help you get clients. 

Time management skills apply to leading coaching sessions, too. The best life coaches are mindful of managing the flow of the call so that you reach the end of the session with your client in a raw, vulnerable state. (Don’t worry, we teach you how to structure your sessions to this effect!)


Life coaches need to express themselves clearly to provide advice and actionable guidance for their clients.  

The good news? Practice, experience and feeling confident in the coaching models and exercises in your coaching toolkit will help you communicate clearly with clients, as will equipping yourself with a decent vocabulary around therapeutic techniques like positive psychology. 


That’s why all of our life coaching courses include hours of practice and live training, including observation from experts, to hone this skill.


Being a great listener is one of the key skills you need to have as a life coach. The better you listen and observe, the more you can learn and discern about your client.

Being a good listener involves getting comfortable with silence (because it allows your clients time and space to organise and complete their thoughts) and paying close attention to the client’s verbal and non-verbal cues like eye contact, hesitations, facial expressions and body language.

Listening and observational skills are just like any other — meaning they can be honed and perfected until you become a profoundly intuitive coach.


Whether you include mentoring or therapeutic techniques into your coaching or not, you’ll need to master the art of effective questioning, as it sits at the heart of every coaching session.

Asking the right questions at the right time can lead to ‘aha moments’ and revelations aplenty. Concise, open-ended questions help your client tune into their inner-knowing, overcome obstacles/challenges, and solve problems.

Become a Life Coach with The Life Coaching College Australia

Do you want to become a life coach? Our certifications are ICF (International Coaching Federation) accredited and will equip you with all the skills and knowledge you need to understand your clients and help them achieve their goals.

Find out more about our life coaching courses and discover how to apply.  


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The Life Coaching College

Glen Murdoch is the founder and CEO of The Life Coaching College. He has a long history of working with Athletes and Teams as a Performance Coach and Analyst and has developed Australia's number 1 Life Coaching College.