Transactional vs. Transformational Coaching
By Mark Hull

The two most powerful words in the English language are, “Coach says.” This however comes with a warning: Great power requires great character for that to be a blessing and not a curse. Words under the control of a transformational coach will build. The careless words of a transactional coach can do deep wounding.

Transactional coaching is focused on actions. It’s about performance. It basically says, “You do this for me, I’ll do that for you.” Transformational coaching is focused on the person. It communicates, “I am here as a coach to help you grow not just as an athlete but as a whole person.” We call that being a 3Dimensional Coach.


In his powerful book “InSideOut Coaching,” author Joe Ehrmann poses four essential questions every coach at every level must contemplatively answer if they desire to take the journey from the transactional to the transformational approach. They are called the Mindsight Questions:

  1. Why do you coach?
    • Do you have a clear statement for your coaching that acts as a filter for every decision?
  2. Why do you coach the way that you do?
    • What triggers your behavior? Is your coaching based on best practices or do you just coach the way you were coached?
  3. What does it feel like to be coached by you?
    • This may be the most valuable and overlooked question for coaches. What does it feel like to be on the other side of you?
  4. How do you define success?
    • If you are not crystal clear on this then the scoreboard determines the answer. (note: the answer to this question should be the fulfillment of the answer to question 1)

The answers to these questions are foundational to transformation in your own life and in lives of the athletes you coach. The good news is we can change if we are willing to work at it. Coach, research shows that you are the most influential person in the life of today’s American adolescent. Develop a 3Dimensional Coaching strategy to fulfill your transformational purpose, and use the influence for good. We’re here to help.

One thought on “Transactional vs. Transformational Coaching

  1. I appreciate the clear manner in which your present the tension between the transactional and transformational point of view for coaching. I have presented at conferences on this subject and teach on it regularly and do my best to practice it with my coaching.

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