Styles of Coaching for every kind of Client

Business Coaching Chalkboard

Do you remember the Push Me-Pull You, the fantastic two-way creature from the “Doctor Doolittle” stories?  The “Push” style of coaching (also called Directive) gives instructions or directions. Coaches need to give clients a little push, offering clear answers or show them how to perform certain skills or ask some tough questions in order to keep the client accountable. It is useful in the coaching relationship when the client lacks confidence or ability. The Push method is a quick way to teach. It provides answers and teaches skills step-by-step.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the “Pull” style of coaching. (Also called non-directive.)
Using this method, the coach pulls on a client’s existing strengths, vision and goals. The client
does most of the talking in a Pull style of coaching, which can be irritating to clients who want the answers provided to them. The Pull method can take more time and skill as a coach but provides greater motivation as clients discover their own solutions.

• Instruct
• Tell
• Give advice
• Offer suggestions
• Provide guidance
• Provide feedback
• Ask tough questions
• Keep client accountable
• Overcome (inertia)

• Ask questions to raise awareness
• Summarize client’s statements
• Reflect on situation
• Paraphrase situation
• Focus on strengths
• Focus on goals
• Focus on vision

As a Business Coach, you must determine when to pull your clients and when to push them. Some clients may be extremely bright and talented yet have very little drive. Other clients may be very ambitious but have few developed abilities. Others may be talented AND driven, and others may be completely unambitious. Clients may sometimes move from one quadrant to another, depending on their current situation.

Here’s a brief overview of what to do in each situation.


Push to find client reasons for wanting to improve, then associate the motivation to fulfilling the reason.

Push to give plenty of direction and then be available to provide time and support.


Pull by giving direction initially, and then gradually allowing client to find his or her way.

Push to teach new skills and set realistic goals to build confidence.


Push to find needs and goals, then motivate client to focus on achieving them.

Pull to find out if client is being challenged to the extent of his / her abilities.


Pull by idnetifying challenges that will provide opportunities for personal and career development.

Pull by listening to client’s opinions, ideas, goals and suggestions.