Listens Actively: The Sixth ICF Core Competency

To communicate effectively with your clients as a professional coach, understanding the sixth ICF core competency is essential. It is necessary to become the kind of coach who listens actively to your client’s needs to help understand how to work with them to reach their desired goals. 

The International Coach Federation CCM

The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the world’s largest organization of professionally trained coaches, with members in more than 140 countries worldwide and over 30,000 credential holders across more than 125 countries.  The ICF’s eleven core coaching competencies were developed by the coach federation to support a broader understanding of the skills and approaches used within today’s coaching profession. As professional coaches, it is essential to understand and be able to demonstrate each core coaching competency.

The ICF Core Competency model (CCM) was revised in November 2019 to ensure that the model remains relevant and reflected in current coaching practice. The revised core competency model showcases several changes that are significant to the role of professional coaches. The new competency model will go into effect sometime in 2021.  For the benefit of the thousands of coaches representing a diverse range of coaching specialties, training backgrounds, and professional experiences worldwide, this new model, according to the ICF, offers a more straightforward, more modernized structure and integrates consistent, clear language. 

The ICF, which initially created eleven core coaching competencies, divided into four categories, has now been revised to eight-core competencies and restructured into four categories.  Under category C, Communicating Effectively is the sixth competency, Listens Actively. 

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More About The Sixth ICF Core Competency 

What does listening actively to your clients entails?  According to the International Coach Federation, the term “listens actively” involves focusing on what the client is and is not saying to fully comprehend what is being communicated in the client systems and support the client’s self-expression. 

Listening actively is commonly used in coaching, training, counseling, mentoring, etc. It has to do with being fully present, i.e., engaged in the conversation. Here, communication does not just involve hearing what the client is saying with their speech, but also with their body language and gestures.   The sixth core competency, listens actively:

  1. Considers the client’s context, identity, environment, experiences, values, and beliefs to enhance understanding of what the client is communicating.
  2. Reflects or summarizes what the client communicated to ensure clarity and understanding.
  3. Recognizes and inquires when there is more to what the client is communicating.
  4. Notices, acknowledge and explore the client’s emotions, energy shifts, non-verbal cues, or other behaviors.
  5. Integrates the client’s words, tone of voice, and body language to determine the full meaning of what is being communicated.
  6. Notices trends in the client’s behaviors and emotions across sessions to discern themes and patterns.

With a thorough understanding of the sixth icf core competency, coaches will be successful at listening more actively to their clients’ needs. As mentioned earlier, that includes what the client is and is NOT saying.    

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Margaret K. Olubiyi
Life Coach
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

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