A Powerful ICF Core Competency: Embodies a Coaching Mindset 

The coaching profession is growing globally and rapidly to meet the evolving needs of our world. As more people make coaching their full-time career, investing in yourself as a coach is even more important now. 

To support coaches on their journeys, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) has introduced a distinct new competency in the Updated ICF Core Competencies, which were published in November 2019. This competency is “Embodies a Coaching Mindset.  

I am excited to be learning more about this competency and exploring how I can integrate it into my coaching practice. In this article, I share my understanding of the competency and initial reflection on how this can be put in practice to enable success for coaches and growth for clients. 

As coaches start and expand their practice, they invest a lot in learning the craft of coaching and enhancing their skills to coach others. As a competency, “Embodies a Coaching Mindset” highlights the value of focusing on yourself as a coach and provides guidance on how to invest in “being” a coach alongside “doing” the coaching. 

ICF has outlined the definition and components of this new competency. To look at it another way, I’ve grouped its description into three categories: self-awareness, self-development and self-regulation. 

1. Self-awareness 

  • As coaches, be aware of your distinct role. You partner with clients to facilitate their growth. Be playful and explore nuances so you can adapt your coaching style to enable client autonomy. 
  • While it is difficult to quantify impact of culture and context on coaching, be aware of how your own background may have influenced who you are as an individual. Assess with which client’s culture and context may come up, what can lead to an internal debate and assess if you are comfortable with it. 
  • Allow your self-awareness and intuition to play a role in the coaching process to benefit clients. Think about how you recognize and interpret your own intuition and if/how you decide to offer it to the client.

2. Self-Development

  • Identify opportunities to develop as a coach so that you are fit for purpose and fit for future. To support this, be aware of your own learning style and make learning ongoing.  
  • Create dedicated time to reflect on how the coaching session went for you, how it went for the client and how it went from a competency point of view. Supervision can prove especially useful to develop a reflective practice – among other resources ICF has recently launched is a new Community of Practice – Coaching Supervision. 
  • Honor coaching ethics by directing clients to other professional services when required. Be equally aware of your own support system as a coach and know your go-to professionals to seek help when needed.  

3. Self-regulation 

  • Explore areas that can be emotional for you and be aware of how you manage and regulate those emotions. How do you manage emotions when necessary and still be authentic in the coaching space? 
  • Prepare for sessions, mentally and emotionally. Be aware of the rhythm that works for you to be in a state of mental calm before the session begins.

In summary, the “Embodies a Coaching Mindset” competency is an invitation for coaches to be truly open to ongoing learning and development, to stay curious and develop a reflective practice and to move with the client while being flexible about the influence of their own emotions, culture and intuition.  

“Being” the coach shows up in “doing” the coaching. Make them both integral parts of your practice to deliver success for you and growth for clients! 

To learn more about the Updated ICF Core Competencies and their implementation, visit the ICF Core Competencies web page, or watch a video overview of this Core Competency on ICF’s YouTube channel.

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