New vs Old: The ICF Core Competencies in Coaching

A new set of ICF Core Competencies in Coaching was released by the International Coach Federation (ICF) in November 2019. It consists of only eight core coaching competencies as compared to the previous version consisting of eleven competencies. 

The ICF developed the core competencies to promote understanding of the skills and strategies it requires coaches to use in the coaching profession. The ICF Core Coaching Competencies played a key role in the development of the ICF Coach Knowledge Assessment (CKA). The CKA is a tool that can be used to measure coaches’ understanding of the knowledge and skills important in the practice of coaching. It evaluates coaches on their understanding of coaching that includes the ICF definition of coaching, Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.

The ICF Core Competencies in Coaching have helped professional coaches enhance their knowledge, develop coaching skills, and also become better professionals.

The Difference Between the Old and the New version of ICF Core Competencies in Coaching

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Before we get into serious stuff, let’s refresh our memories a bit and look at what the old core competencies are. They include 11 competencies:

  1. Ethics and Standards
  2. Establish the Coaching Agreement
  3. Establish Trust and Intimacy with the Client
  4. Coaching Presence
  5. Active Listening
  6. Powerful Questioning
  7. Direct Communication
  8. Creating Awareness
  9. Designing Action
  10. Planning and Goal Setting
  11. Managing Progress and Accountability

Now, let’s dive into the new core competencies and look at what they are. They include 8 competencies:

  1. Demonstrates Ethical Practice – Understand ethical and coaching standards guidelines provided by the ICF.
  2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset – Develop and maintain an open, flexible, client-oriented, and curious about learning.
  3. Establishes and Maintain Agreements – Ensure to establish and maintain a clear agreement with the client and relevant stakeholders regarding the coaching relationship, aims, plans, and the whole process. Furthermore, establish an agreement for the whole coaching engagement and each coaching session.
  4. Cultivates Trust and Safety – Ensure a relationship of mutual trust and respect. Besides, create a safe and supportive environment where the clients can freely share.
  5. Maintain Presence – Direct to remain fully conscious and present with the client and practice an open, confident, grounded, and flexible style of coaching.
  6. Listen Actively – Listen to the client attentively, focus on what the client is, and support the self-expression of the client.
  7. Evokes Awareness – Direct to use impactful tools and techniques such as silence, powerful questioning, analogy, or metaphors to facilitate insight and learning of the client.
  8. Facilitate Client Growth – Work with the client to turn insight and learning into action. Furthermore, partner with the client to promote the autonomy of the client in the overall coaching engagement.

It is clear that there isn’t a major difference between the old and new ICF Core Coaching Competencies. Rather, the new set of competencies simplifies certain areas in the old set of competencies by merging some competencies from the old core competencies into one. The minor differences are:

  • ICF introduced a brand-new core coaching competency – Embodies a Coaching Mindset (refer to no 2 of the new core competencies).
  • ICF has merged some separate provisions from the old set of ICF Core Coaching Competencies into one. Old core competencies Powerful Questioning, Direct Communication, and Creating Awareness (refer to no. 6, 7, 8 of the old competencies) have merged into one core competency titled “Evokes Awareness.” (refer to no. 7 of the new competencies). Moreover, old core competencies Designing Action, Planning and Goal Setting, and Managing Progress and Accountability (refer to no. 6, 7, 8 of the old competencies) combine to form one core competency known as “Facilitate Client Growth” (look at no. 8) in the new set of ICF Core Coaching Competencies. 

Without a doubt, the new set of core competencies makes coaching less complicated and easier for coaches to remember and master them!

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