5 Soft Skills for an Executive Coach

How an Executive Coach Can Fill the Soft Skills Gap

It’s a great time to be a well-trained executive coach! 

An executive coach has an unprecedented opportunity to fill the looming soft skills gap in businesses today. Business coaching is an $11 billion industry in the United States alone and it’s growing at a rate of 3.5% per year, according to the latest statistics from IBIS World

Knowing which business coaching tools are best for executive coaches begins with understanding the needs of businesses today. We’ve done some digging to discover which business coaching tools they’ll find useful.When you see the need, you can seize the opportunity if you have the right tools.

The Biggest Problem in Business Today:
An Unprecedented Soft Skills Gap

The one inevitable problem for businesses today is known as the soft skills gap. Caroline Beaton of Forbes asked 100 HR managers, recruiters, and CEOs about the most needed attribute in their business. Nearly all of them said soft skills.

Can you help businesses and entrepreneurs solve the lack of soft skills challenge through executive coaching and training? If so, you’ll be booked for a generation.

Start your Executive Coach Certification today.

What are Soft Skills?

Soft skills are the personal attributes that allow people to successfully interact with others and manage themselves well. Soft skills include:

  • Communication skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Positive personality traits
  • Inner resourcefulness/confidence
  • Team-playing abilities
  • Creativity and flexibility
  • Sense of personal responsibility
Executive Coach NLP Soft Skills

As a soft skills trainer in the 1990’s for organizations like Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Defense, I recall the skepticism many executives had towards soft skills. Soft skills weren’t considered legitimate. Many looked upon soft skills as unscientific and a waste of time. However, we’re in a different world today.

A Lack of Employees with Soft Skills is Killing Corporations

Up to sixty percent of businesses in a recent McKinsey & Company survey said they have a hard time finding job candidates with the minimum skills they expect.

As millennials entered the workforce, they did so with a noticeable deficit in communication and self-management skills. Many never expected to have to work in a real company. Perhaps they dreamt of working from home or as a freelancer in the gig economy. Being raised in the digital age may have left them ill-prepared for the very real people and teams they must work with day in and day out.

And this is how soft skills have become the number one human resources priority in the modern workplace.

How NLP Coaching Tools Can Fill this Gap

By understanding the specific soft skills that businesses lack, we can determine which coaching tools are best to learn. The most pressing soft skills needed in business, according to nation’s largest recruitment site, Indeed.com, are condensed in the list below. To learn these skills quickly and effectively, we’ve matched them with NLP tools that build this skill-set.

1. Team Playing

Executive Coach NLP team player

In most jobs, you work on a team. This requires that you do your work in ways that help others succeed as well. But, if you act like you live in a bubble, your results may impede the results of others. Therefore, being a good team player makes nearly every list of important business attributes.

NLP Tool to Use: Rapport Skills

 Nothing enhances open communication and trust like rapport-building skills. With greater rapport, communication increases. People work more productively together when they like each other.

The NLP methods of matching and mirroring and sensory communication create rapport and trust at a deeper level than words alone. These are essential skills for coaches to have and pass onto business clients.

NLP Tool to Use: Perceptual Positions

The perceptual positions method allows you to experience any relationship from multiple points of view. Without this critical interpersonal skill, people tend to think too narrowly and forget to consider what other people need. Working well with others requires flexibility in perspective that includes how others are affected by what you do.

2. Interpersonal Communication Skills

Executive Coach NLP Communication Skills

Effective interpersonal communication drives any business further toward or away from mission-critical goals. This is one of those soft skill gaps that plague businesses today, according to the Society for Human Resource Management

NLP Tools to Use: Meta and Milton Model

In NLP, the Meta Model is a systematic way to communicate with a high degree of clarity and specificity. It also allows you to ask the right questions to get the specific information you need to succeed.

The Milton Model, on the other hand, is a way to inspire resourcefulness in others by effective encouraging them. Using the Milton Model respectfully awakens inner resources in others.

Understanding both the Meta and Milton models help you know how and when to be vague (to awaken inner resources) vs. specific (when giving instructions). Used in tandem, these language skills eliminate costly miscommunication.

3. Problem-solving and Resourcefulness

Executive Coach NLP Creative Ideas

Known as the universal business skill, employers desperately need resourceful employees who can solve problems independently. This provides a great opportunity for an executive coach to step in and train them.

NLP Tool to Use: 6-Step Reframing – The Universal Problem-Solving Model

6-Step reframing is an NLP and coaching method that solves the tough problems systematically. During the six steps of this model, you’ll access creativity and generate solutions to achieve the highest goal related to any problem. People who know how to use this model become problem-solving machines.

4. Self-Management

Executive Coach NLP Mindset Tools

Self-management refers to all aspects of being a productive and responsible employee. Things like punctuality, organization, and emotion-management are relevant here and must be mastered by an executive coach.

NLP Tool to Use: Accessing States and Anchoring

Managing yourself is a matter of choosing your mindset. Which mindset do you need to do what you need to do? Can you motivate yourself to do tasks you don’t enjoy? Can you remain calm during a crisis or when receiving constructive criticism?

Accessing states and anchoring show you how to enter any mindset at will and stay in that mindset for as long as you need.

5. Big Picture Analysis

Executive Coach NLP Big Picture

Every job description should ultimately serve the goals and mission of the business. It’s easy to lose sight of this bigger picture when days are spent focusing on tasks. Still, it’s important when making decisions to know how what you’re doing affects the larger outcome.

NLP Tool to Use: Association and Dissociation

This simple NLP and coaching method shows you how to immerse yourself in the moment and pull back to see the big picture as well.


The soft skills gap is one of the best opportunities for an executive coach to make a sizable difference in businesses. However, the key is to know how to fill the gap with specific methods that work. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) features those tools and techniques that allow you to build these skills in the most intuitive and effective way. You can find these tools and more in our Executive Coaching Certification program.

iNLP Center Staff
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