Core Coaching Competencies

Lolding/ July 30, 2020/ LDRS 663/ 3 comments

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is a global professional body that seeks to further the coaching profession “by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals” (International Coaching Federation [ICF], 2020a). Coaching varies in purpose from other service professions like therapy, training, consulting, and mentoring. According to the ICF, “professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change” (ICF, 2020c). In 1998, the ICF created a set of core competencies that provided guidance for coaching professionals as they work with clients and reflect on their practice. Over the last two years, much work has been done to review and analyze these competencies in connection with professional practice. In early 2021, an updated list of competencies will be released; this new model will take effect in the latter part of the year. For the purposes of this blog post, I will be reflecting on the incoming competencies, which can be found on the ICF Core Competencies page or by following this link:  (ICF, 2020b).

The new competencies are divided into four main clusters like the original set of competencies. However, there are now eight competencies instead of eleven and sixty-three descriptors instead of seventy. The new set of competencies seems more concise and easy to understand. The main clusters and competencies are as follows: 

A. Foundation
  1. Demonstrates Ethical Practice
    2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset
B. Co-Creating the Relationship 
    3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements     4. Cultivates Trust and Safety
    5. Maintains Presence
C. Communicating Effectively
    6. Listens Actively     7. Evokes Awareness
D. Cultivating Learning and Growth
    8. Facilitates Client Growth

While all the core coaching competencies presented by the ICF are valuable and contribute to a successful coaching session, some are inherently more vital than others. For example, coaches are unlikely to be successful if they do not engage in active listening or direct communication. A coach is encouraged to explore with the client, not for the client, and to work together to design a plan or course of action. It is not the coach’s responsibility to solve problems for a client; this task should be done collaboratively with the client taking the lead. Stay tuned for my next post where I discuss what I see as the most important competency for educational coaching.     

International Coaching Federation. (2020a). About. 

International Coaching Federation. (2020b). Core competencies. 

International Coaching Federation. (2020b). FAQs: How is coaching distinct from other service professions?

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