WABC Business Coaching Definition

The WABC Business Coaching Definition is the first-ever, global association-sponsored evidence-based definition of business coaching. This working definition offers a succinct statement of what business coaching is and how it’s distinct from other types of coaching. All WABC members and WABC Accredited® program providers adhere to this definition. This definition also educates the public and helps clients and their sponsors and organizations understand what to expect from business coaching.

WABC Business Coaching Definition


Business coaching is the process of engaging in regular, structured conversation with a “client”: an individual or team who is within a business, profit or nonprofit organization, institution or government and who is the recipient of business coaching. The goal is to enhance the client’s awareness and behavior so as to achieve business objectives for both the client and their organization.

Business coaching enables the client to understand their role in achieving business success, and to enhance that role in ways that are measurable and sustainable. The coaching process may take different forms (e.g., individual or team coaching) and involve different goals (e.g., problem solving, career and succession planning, leadership/executive development, creation of high-performing teams), but throughout there is a clear focus on the business objectives of both the client and the organization.

This dual focus is what distinguishes business coaching from other types of coaching. The business coach helps the client discover how changing or accommodating personal characteristics and perspectives can affect both personal and business processes. Successful coaching helps the client achieve agreed-upon business outcomes as an individual or team within the context of an organization.

Business coaching establishes an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect, safety, challenge and accountability to motivate both the client and the coach. To that end, the business coach must conduct an ethical and competent practice, based on appropriate professional experience, business knowledge and an understanding of individual and organizational change.

Note: “Business coaching” is an inclusive term that refers to all types of business and organizational coaching. It is practiced by internal and external coaches who may identify as corporate coaches, executive coaches, leadership coaches, organizational development coaches or other types of business coaches. Regardless of the practitioner’s title, business coaching is defined by its dual focus on the client and the client’s organization.


Since 1997, WABC has been committed to defining and leading business coaching excellence.

In partnership with UK-based Professional Development Foundation, a leader in research and education in the professions, we spent years on research, literature reviews and consultations with top global business coaches and their clients. One result was a working definition of business coaching in October 2007. We revised the definition in 2011, while creating the WABC Professional Standards for Business Coaches. The global task force that produced the standards, and the WABC members who reviewed them, suggested valuable changes. To maintain its relevance as an accurate description of our profession, the definition will continue to evolve, so we welcome your comments and advice.