ICF Competencies vs IAC Masteries: Coaching Competencies

The ICF competencies have sometimes been compared to the International Association of Coaching (IAC)’s masteries. However, over the years, we have seen more coaches gravitating more towards becoming ICF credentialed. In order to obtain an ICF certification and to be successful in the industry,coaches need to understand and apply the ICF coaching competencies to their coaching business.

ICF Competencies vs IAC Masteries: Coaching Competencies
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ICF Competencies Defined:

The ICF competencies were developed by the coach federation to support greater understanding of the skills and approaches used within today’s coaching profession. Also, they were established to help distinguish their coaches from coaches certified through other organizations.

The ICF Core Competencies And IAC Masteries: What They Have in Common

Interestingly enough, both the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the International Association of Coaching (IAC) were founded by the same individual, Thomas J. Leonard. He was known as the father of professional coaching. He established the ICF in 1995 followed by the IAC in 1993. The IAC Coaching Masteries were developed to produce clear standards and measures for what constitutes the highest level of coaching. Both the ICF and IAC are the two most globally recognized and respected coach certification and credentialing organizations today.

  • ICF credentialing places emphasis on coach training, mentoring and experience, as well as an online test and demonstration of coaching skill.
  • IAC certification emphasizes the results of coach training, mentoring and experience, rather than the documentation of it.
  • The ICF has eleven core competencies while the IAC has nine coaching masteries which appears to have a few similarities.

Now the ICF competencies are divided into four groups according to how they logically fit together.

A. Setting the foundation

1. Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards

2. Establishing the coaching agreement

B. Co-creating the relationship

3. Establishing trust and intimacy with the client

4. Coaching presence

C. Communicating effectively

5. Active listening

6. Powerful questioning

7. Direct communication

D. Facilitating learning and results.

8. Creating awareness

9. Designing actions

10. Planning and goal setting

11. Managing progress and accountability

For the IAC Coaching Masteries, there are nine masteries:

1. Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust

2. Perceiving affirming and expanding the client’s potential

3. Engaged listening

4. Processing in the present

5. Expressing

6. Clarifying

7. Helping the client set and keep clear intentions

8. Inviting possibility

9. Helping the client create and use supportive systems and structures.

If you are a coach whose primary goal is to bring about a transformational experience in the lives of your prospective clients, eagerly pursuing certification and training that is highly focused on the ICF competencies or the IAC masteries is crucial to your coaching success.

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Peggy Adegoke
Life Coach
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

FREE Video Course: How to Build a High Paying Coaching Business

Facebook comments:


  1. says

    It’s good to know that to be able to effect transformation in clients’ lives, aspiring coaches could now get themselves certified on both the ICF competencies and the IAL masteries. This is just what Aunt Tina needs to explore to make her more of a public speaker and a personal financial coach given she’s already a CPA. Not only would she be able to inspire people to reach for their entrepreneurial dreams, but also to be able to enlighten them on building better client relationships. This is awesome!

  2. Makeala says

    Great breakdown!
    I would add to that, as someone who is currently studying for an IAC credential, IAC also has a 100-question test as part of demonstration of masteries along with a requirement of documentation of recorded sessions and a Coaching Development Plan to be reviewed and approved an IAC certifier.

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