Refined and Updated ICF Coaching Competencies

In October 2019, the International Coach Federation (ICF) updated the ICF Coaching Core Competencies—there are now eight, not 11 ICF coaching competencies.

ICF coaching competencies are basically essential elements in the coaching process that most directly impact your success as a coach. Coaches can be trained to be proficient in these areas. In practice, they’re the basis for evaluating coaches who want to get their Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach or Master Certified Coach credential from the ICF. Depending on the level, the coach is expected to have greater mastery of the coaching core competencies. Without a foundation built upon these essential elements or core competencies, and because of all the distractions and roadblocks a coach is susceptible to today, results can be mediocre.

The Updated Eight ICF Coaching Competencies

Take a look at the following list of the core competencies that are prevalent in the coaching process and select the skills that you believe are absolutely essential to your success. If you can master each ICF coaching competency, you’re on your way to succeed in any type or niche of coaching.

(NOTE: If you’ve been asking questions about ICF Certification lately, then you need to attend this webinar, called “ICF Credentialing & Coach Certification”. During the webinar, I’ll cover how you can gain an ICF Credential in a matter of months. Click HERE now to attend the webinar.)

  1. Demonstrating Ethical Practice – this skill allows you to understand and consistently apply coaching ethics and standards of coaching.
  2. Embodying a Coaching Mindset – with this competency, you can develop and maintain a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered.
  3. Establishing and Maintaining Agreements – by developing this skill, you can partner with your client and relevant stakeholders to create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, process, plans and goals and maintaining these agreements.
  4. Cultivating Trust and Safety – this skill is essential when it comes to creating a safe, supportive environment that allows the client to share freely. You can also learn how to maintain a relationship of mutual respect and trust.
  5. Maintaining Presence – as a coach, it is not only important to be fully conscious and present with the client, but also to employ a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident. 
  6. Listening Actively – having good listening skills can help you focus on what the client is and is not saying so you can fully understand what is being communicated in the context of the client’s point of view and to support the client’s self-expression.
  7. Evoking Awareness – this skill facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor or analogy.
  8. Facilitating Client Growth – in coaching, there is nothing more exciting than partnering with the client to transform learning and insight into action. This skill helps you promote client autonomy in the coaching process.

These core competencies may be difficult to maintain consistently, but they are the skills needed by and expected of coaches. Coaches should be role models for others, be visible champions of high standards of professional and ethical behavior, and be leaders who others in their organizations can be proud of. Not many of these characteristics are imbued in coaches by default. They can be learned, however, and should then be continuously developed and enhanced. With these competencies in place and being demonstrated in behavior and actions, coaches will be more effective and successful.

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