ICF Core Competency: Facilitating Learning and Results – Creating Awareness

Finally, we come to the fourth and final category of ICF core coaching competencies, namely, Facilitating Learning and Results. The first competency under this is Creating Awareness. Now, this is quite a long list.

D. Facilitating Learning and Results

8. Creating Awareness – Ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results.

  1. Goes beyond what is said in assessing client’s concerns, not getting hooked by the client’s description.
  2. Invokes inquiry for greater understanding, awareness, and clarity.
  3. Identifies for the client his/her underlying concerns; typical and fixed ways of perceiving himself/herself and the world; differences between the facts and the interpretation; and disparities between thoughts, feelings, and action.
  4. Helps clients to discover for themselves the new thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, emotions, moods, etc. that strengthen their ability to take action and achieve what is important to them.
  5. Communicates broader perspectives to clients and inspires commitment to shift their viewpoints and find new possibilities for action.
  6. Helps clients to see the different, interrelated factors that affect them and their behaviors (e.g., thoughts, emotions, body, and background).
  7. Expresses insights to clients in ways that are useful and meaningful for the client.
  8. Identifies major strengths vs. major areas for learning and growth, and what is most important to address during coaching.
  9. Asks the client to distinguish between trivial and significant issues, situational vs. recurring behaviors, when detecting a separation between what is being stated and what is being done.

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

Creating awareness in a client depends on the coach’s level of skill in the other competencies such as in active listening, powerful questioning, and direct communication.

Creating a shift in awareness can involve a series of steps, or even sessions, asking various questions and giving insightful feedback until the client has an “aha” moment, until that one question or observation that hits the nail right on the head.

Why is it often times challenging and difficult to create awareness?  Remember the Johari Window?  A client may have all sorts of unexamined assumptions about herself and others, and what’s going on in relation to what the client asked to be coached on.

Johari Window

Johari.WindowFigure retrieved from Johari Window.

Even if the Johari Window may not be explicitly used during the coaching session, the coaching process helps the client explore the four perspectives represented in the table below, namely, the areas that are “unknown” or “hidden” from the client vs. areas that are “known” to herself and to others.

Creating awareness is not an end in itself but rather a means to “raise” the client’s starting point for constructive actions in moving forward in achieving her goals.

One executive who lamented that her team was not able to carry out and complete the projects they agreed to do during the year, later realized that it was her way of managing, or actually not sufficiently managing, her team so that they had a very clear idea of their project charter, their deliverables, their timetable, their resources. The team had gotten into the habit of letting the project schedule slip and were complacent in not producing their deliverables. There were no drastic consequences for failure to deliver.

She wanted her team to be successful but was not sure what else she should do. One question that helped to create a shift in awareness was, “What are you doing, or not doing, that’s keeping them in the state“?  The point of the question was that before we can expect others to change, we must look to ourselves and ask what we must change in ourselves so that the others can change as well. It was a question that was meant to explore the client’s Blind Area.

The executive assumed that if she gave them the freedom and flexibility to direct their work and just checked on them a few months down the road, that the team would do better. However, more discussion revealed that the team probably didn’t really know what they they were expected to produce and by when.  They didn’t have all the required information, knowledge and skills necessary to successfully complete the project and didn’t ask for help either.  The team didn’t have sufficient initiative and commitment.  They had little sense of urgency.

Upon realizing that how she managed her team had an impact on their poor performance, she identified what she would do differently so as to help the team better understand the requirements of their internal clients and deliver on these.  The awareness enabled her to consider different ways of managing her team, experiment with these, observe more closely what worked and what didn’t, reflect on her experience and work with her team more effectively.

Click here to see the 11 ICF Core Coaching Competencies in this blog.

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