Transactional vs Transformational Coaching

Updated: May 5, 2021

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.“ Albert Einstein

I had the privilege of being the coach in the second practical coaching session and getting valuable feedback from the cohort of the Coach Masters Academy. It was a transformational learning experience for me by knowing that it was not a transformational coaching for my client- for her, it stayed in the transactional solution result-oriented space with concrete action steps. Even though I am a M.Sc. psychologist working currently as a management consultant, trainer and mentor, it was a big shift to go to the transformational stage and give room for a solution space without supporting the client with concrete hints and trying to find an immediate solution with concrete next steps. In our daily business life, we are programmed to find direct action steps and go further. Reflecting on the unknown, the reason behind why we are doing things comes short. We prefer to go directly to the solution space rather than stay for a moment in the reflection space and identify the real purpose behind our actions.


My main lesson from this experience was that when we want to ensure a deeper learning experience, we need to ensure a transformational learning experience by uncovering the unknown!

The human mind is complex. It is filled with the knowledge we have learned and experienced, the emotions we feel, the beliefs we have held and the values we have believed in. To create a deeper impact, we need to be able to uncover what really matters for the person. We need to open the layers step by step like peeling an onion, and look into the deeper center, which is hidden like an iceberg. We all know that this is not easy, and that not every client wants to go into a deeper level. Going into a deeper level takes energy, it takes time and courage.


What are the main differences between transformational and transactional coaching?


The proprietary transformative coaching framework known as the Awareness-Clarity-Choice Conversation integrates the science of Positive Psychology with the theories of transformative learning. It is designed to increase awareness and deepen the learning experience, creating a powerful shift in thinking to enable a positive change that is deep and sustainable, which makes the coaching transformational and ensures a deeper long-term change.


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 as a whole person.” “Trans” means to go across or to move from one stage to another, suggesting a change in form. It involves a dynamic change in nature, not just a surface level of change.


Transformational coaching requires the individual to take full control of their life, understand where they are going and implement changes that will impact them holistically and long term. This can be a rather tough and daunting challenge! On the other hand, transactional coaching focuses more on the day-to-day issues and challenges that the individual is experiencing. Perhaps, we could say that the results from transactional coaching will be less profound and more short-term.


Transactional coaching relates to the achievement of desired goals and improved performance. It largely involves working with another person to help them develop clearly self-set goals, which are then pursued to success.


Transformational coaching transcends, yet includes, transactional coaching. It involves similar techniques, but it relates to personal growth, in other words, an individual's psychological development. The conversation results to a sustainable change in which the individual gains first awareness to the forefront of her mind, allowing her to make considered decisions that are truly aligned with her priorities. This transformative coaching process provides people with a huge space in which to examine how they respond to their situation through reflection. This involves questioning and challenging their actions, decisions, or assumptions, with the goal of learning something from the process of self-examination and self-discovery.


The fundamental difference between the two approaches lies in how the client is focused. Transactional coaching starts from the premise that the client knows, or will uncover, what they want to achieve based on their existing way of being. As a result, the role of the coach is to help the client develop clarity about their goals and then put the strategies in place to achieve them. This can be seen as a process of narrowing focus.


Transformational coaching begins with a different premise. This approach initially seeks to expand the client´s focus and view the world more broadly as a means of developing goals, which address

greater complexity, before focusing on achieving those goals.


Summary overview:

Transactional vs. Transformational Coachi

If you are a client, you can ask yourself these questions before you go into the session:

· What do I want to change or achieve ?

· Why I want to be coached?

· What are my expectations? Which approach do I prefer?

· How do I define and measure success for myself and track my progress?



We need to ask ourselves these questions before we go into the session as a coach:

· For what do I stand for as a coach?

· Why do I coach the way I do?

· What does it feel like to be coached by me?

· How do I define and measure success?

· What do I want to achieve?


My short answer to all those questions is that I want to make a positive impact to the world by exploring and transforming myself and others, ensuring a deep learning experience by giving people the courage to leave their comfort zones and unlocking their real potentials.


With love,

Deniz Kayadelen