ICF Core Competency: Communicating Effectively – Active Listening

Now moving on to the third category of ICF Core Competencies…Communicating Effectively. The first point under it is Active Listening.

5. Active Listening – Ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self-expression.

  1. Attends to the client and the client’s agenda and not to the coach’s agenda for the client.
  2. Hears the client’s concerns, goals, values and beliefs about what is and is not possible.
  3. Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language.
  4. Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
  5. Encourages, accepts, explores and reinforces the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, suggestions, etc.
  6. Integrates and builds on client’s ideas and suggestions.
  7. “Bottom-lines” or understands the essence of the client’s communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories.
  8. Allows the client to vent or “clear” the situation without judgment or attachment in order to move on to next steps.

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

One of the basic skills that I learned many years ago as a young management consultant was active listening to help me gather the facts and information about a client’s problem that I was working on. Active listening during coaching is more demanding in the sense that the coach must listen at deeper levels.

In her book Co-Active Coaching, Laura Whitworth et al identify three levels of listening.

Level I – Internal Listening: Listening to our own thoughts and judgements.

We hear what the client is saying but focus more on our own thoughts and what these might mean to us. Sometimes, we can lose track of what the client is saying because we are more tuned in to our own thoughts and feelings.

Level II – Focused Listening: Focus on what the client is saying.

We hear what the client is saying and how she is expressing herself. We hear the client’s context and use active listening skills such as questioning, restating, paraphrasing, and summarizing.

Level III – Global Listening: Focus on more than just the words.

We hear and feel the client’s emotions behind the words, the tone of voice, the body language. We have a heightened sense of awareness and are able to access our intuition. We use the skill of immediacy to help make the client aware of what is happening in the here and now during the coaching session.

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

ICF Core Competency: Co-creating the Relationship – Coaching Presence

The second point under Co-Creating the Relationship is Coaching Presence.

4. Coaching Presence – Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.

  1. Is present and flexible during the coaching process, dancing in the moment.
  2. Accesses own intuition and trusts one’s inner knowing—”goes with the gut.”
  3. Is open to not knowing and takes risks.
  4. Sees many ways to work with the client and chooses in the moment what is most effective.
  5. Uses humor effectively to create lightness and energy.
  6. Confidently shifts perspectives and experiments with new possibilities for own action.
  7. Demonstrates confidence in working with strong emotions and can self-manage and not be overpowered or enmeshed by client’s emotions.

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

I like to think of coaching presence as similar to “mind like water” and “mind like the moon”  in Karate or martial arts.

The first metaphor of “mind like water” (“mizo no kokoro” or “mushin“) refers to “quieting one’s mind to the point that it resembles a still pond of water without a single ripple or wave of distracting mental activity. In this state, the surface of the water reflects a clear and perfectly undistorted image of the surroundings, like a mirror.”

The second metaphor of “mind like the moon” (“tsuki no kokoro” or “zanshin“) “describes an acute state of non-analytical alertness or global awareness wherein the mind observes every detail, just as the moon shines on everything
without prejudice or preference, and remains unaffected by what it illuminates.”

The metaphor of “dancing in the moment” for coaching presence is spot on.

Retrieved from Mushin and Zanshin.

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

ICF Core Competency: Co-creating the Relationship – Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client

The second category of ICF core competencies is Co-Creating the Relationship and the first point under it is Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client.

3. Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client—Ability to create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust.

  1. Shows genuine concern for the client’s welfare and future.
  2. Continuously demonstrates personal integrity, honesty and sincerity.
  3. Establishes clear agreements and keeps promises.
  4. Demonstrates respect for client’s perceptions, learning style, personal being.
  5. Provides ongoing support for and champions new behaviors and actions, including those involving risk taking and fear of failure.
  6. Asks permission to coach client in sensitive, new areas.

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

Establishing trust and intimacy is always a challenge, especially during the initial coaching sessions. How do you show a genuine concern for your client?  You can begin with being fully present, that is, giving 100% of your attention to the person in front of you and listening openly and actively to what she is saying and what she may not be saying.

You must also show respect to the uniqueness of the person and not make any judgments about who she is, her challenges or issues, expressed perceptions and thoughts, her behavior and so on. Accepting the person for who she is helps create trust.

You must strive to communicate clearly and make sure agreements are clear. Do what you say you will do and say what you do. In case something appears not to be clear, make an effort to re-clarify. Support your client in her efforts to try out new behaviors and ways of doing things.

When you feel you must give honest feedback that may hurt, weigh how ready she is to receive this and work with it constructively. It helps to ask permission to coach in sensitive areas.

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

ICF Core Competency: Setting the Foundation – Establishing the Coaching Agreement

The second point under Setting the Foundation is Establishing a Coaching Agreement

2. Establishing the Coaching Agreement—Ability to understand what is required in the specific coaching interaction and to come to agreement with the prospective and new client about the coaching process and relationship.

  1. Understands and effectively discusses with the client the guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching relationship (e.g., logistics, fees, scheduling, inclusion of others if appropriate).
  2. Reaches agreement about what is appropriate in the relationship and what is not, what is and is not being offered, and about the client’s and coach’s responsibilities.
  3. Determines whether there is an effective match between his/her coaching method and the needs of the prospective client.

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

Establishing a clear coaching agreement at the beginning of a coaching relationship is very critical so that coach and client know what to expect and what’s included vs. what’s excluded.  Ground rules for sessions are set down.

When there is a three-way relationship, that is, one involving a sponsor, client, and coach, then clarifying the agreement becomes even more important to avoid issues. The sponsor is typically the superior of the client that engages or sponsors the coaching program for the client.  The client is the person being coached or is the “coachee.”  The coach must ensure that both the sponsor and client know the ground rules on confidentiality and agree with them.  That is, what if any matters discussed by the client with the coach will be shared with the sponsor.

From experience, it helps to have the client initiate and have periodic conversations/updates with her superior so that the accountability for deciding what to share and how remains with the client.

To see examples of coaching agreements, visit these links below. You can find more examples by googling the keywords “coaching agreement.”

Coaching Agreement Example 1
Coaching Agreement Example 2
Coaching Agreement Example 3
Coaching Agreement Example 4

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

ICF Core Competency: Setting the Foundation – Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards

The first category of ICF Core Competencies is Setting the Foundation and the first point under it is Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards.

A. Setting the Foundation

1. Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards—Understanding of coaching ethics and standards and ability to apply them appropriately in all coaching situations.

  1. Understands and exhibits in own behaviors the ICF Standards of Conduct.
  2. Understands and follows all ICF Ethical Guidelines.
  3. Clearly communicates the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions.
  4. Refers client to another support professional as needed, knowing when this is needed and the available resources.

A professional coaching relationship exists when there is a business agreement or contract that defines the responsibilities of the coach and the client.

One advantage of engaging ICF professional coaches is that they agree to practice the ICF Professional Core Competencies and pledge accountability to the ICF Code of Ethics. They also aspire to conduct themselves in a manner that reflects positively upon the coaching profession; are respectful of different approaches to coaching; and recognize that they are also bound by applicable laws and regulations.

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

Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies and read more at ICF Code of Ethics.

What are the ICF Core Coaching Competencies?

The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

The ICF has defined 11 core coaching competencies for professional coaches to master and demonstrate in their coaching with clients.  Coaches who aspire to be members of ICF and get their ICF credentials first need to take coaching training that is aligned with these core competencies, then continue to strengthen their actual application and mastery of these competencies, and then pass the ICF credentialing process.

So, what are these 11 core competencies?  The core competencies are grouped into four clusters. All competencies are critical for any competent coach to demonstrate.

A. Setting the Foundation
1. Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards
2. Establishing the Coaching Agreement

B. Co-creating the Relationship
3. Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client
4. Coaching Presence

C. Communicating Effectively
5. Active Listening
6. Powerful Questioning
7. Direct Communication

D. Facilitating Learning and Results
8. Creating Awareness
9. Designing Actions
10. Planning and Goal Setting
11. Managing Progress and Accountability

More about each core competency to follow in the succeeding posts.

Source:  Retrieved from the ICF Individual Credentialing Core Competencies.

What is You Leadership Point of View?

Do you know what your leadership point of view is, and can you articulate and share it with the people you work with in ways that help bring out their best?

The Leadership Point of View Process (LPoV) was developed by Ken Blanchard and Madeleine Blanchard after reading Noel Tichy’s book, The Leadership Engine. The LPoV is your credo and tool for communicating with others what they need to know about you as a leader, and how they can work effectively with you.

To find your LPoV, Ken and Madeleine Blanchard suggest that you start by asking yourself these questions. Write down your answers and reflect on them. Remember, the LPoV is a a self-discovery process. It takes time. For some, it may even last a lifetime.

* Who are the leaders who are inspiring to you?
* What qualities do they have? What did they do that you found inspiring?
* Can you do these things? Do you possess these qualities? If not, can you develop them? If not, what will you do about it?
* What do you expect of yourself and others?
* What can others expect of you?
* How will you share this information with others?

You may use the process on your own or you may work with your coach. Leadership is a journey and leadership coaching can contribute to your development.

You can read more about the LPoV leadership coaching process in the article “Coaching Tools for the Leadership Journey” by Ken Blanchard, Madeleine Homan Blanchard, and Linda Miller