Is your coaching horizontal or vertical?

Posted on: 14 Dec 2023

In her book, Coach the Person, Not the ProblemDr Marcia Reynolds, MCC, author and WBECS Breakthrough Coaching thought leader, explains the difference between horizontal and vertical coaching.


Many new coaches spend a lot of time doing horizontal coaching. The initial client outcome becomes the destination for the session, and they spend their coaching time creating plans and sorting ideas. Clients can usually do this work on their own if they take the time to think about it.


On the other hand, vertical coaching expands awareness. The initial client outcome is only the entry point, and the destination evolves as discoveries and shifts are made at the identity level. Vertical coaching unearths and addresses the difficulty behind the planning and usually has more lasting impacts. By coaching the person, the problem is less likely to reappear. 


While there is a time and a place for horizontal and vertical coaching, most coaches’ default mode of coaching is horizontal and problem-focused, so it takes some retraining to successfully coach the person vertically. This is why we’ve teamed up with Marcia to fast-track your focus on coaching the person through a combined peer coaching/training round.


In our Coach the Person, Not the Problem Combination Training/Peer Coaching Roundyou’ll learn how to take your coaching out of the transactional realm of horizontal coaching and break through to more transformational vertical coaching. It will scaffold your reading of Marcia’s Coach the Person, Not the Problem book (not included in the peer coaching round, but available for separate purchase here) and guide you to apply and experience your learning incrementally in six coaching sessions with your coach and client, respectively. Structured debriefing and reflection guides are provided for each session with your partners, and with permission to record your sessions included in this round, you can deepen your learning even further by listening back to your own and your partners’ coaching sessions.


Coach the Person, Not the Problem is one of those books every coach must have in their professional library. But having it on your shelf is not enough. Through our combination training/peer coaching round, we want to make sure you not only read it but also do it.



You can find more information about our Coach the Person, Not the Problem Combination Training/Peer Coaching Round and read testimonials from our past participants here. If you already know you want to coach the person rather than the problem, or if you participated in past rounds and want to refresh, you can register directly here,


(Registration closes Sunday, January 21)


You also have the opportunity to join a separate Coach the Person, Not the Problem group mentoring session with Marcia (not included in the peer coaching round, but available for  registration here) to learn from Marcia’s feedback on participants’ recorded sessions and live coaching and to ask your questions (an observer only session is also available here).


I participated in both the training round and the group mentoring session, and without a doubt, my coaching changed axes. We look forward to supporting you in taking your coaching to a new level too.


Kerryn Griffiths, PhD, PCC

Global ReciproCoach Coordinator