Coaching Competencies

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Coaching Competencies

Here are a few competency models provided by some of the big names in coaching.

Coaching Competencies

There are a number of prescribed competency models from general categorizations to elaborate manifestos to help guide one’s coaching practice. Here are a few competency models provided by some of the big names in coaching that might help point you in the right direction to at least get started.

We have listed out the basic outline of the competencies described by four coaching organizations. These are not complete but give a feeling of the kinds of skills coaches need to develop. The links will take you to more detailed information.


ICF Core Coaching Competencies

ICF Core Coaching Competencies

A. Setting the foundation

  1. meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards

  2. establishing the coaching agreement


B. Co-creating the relationship

  1. establishing trust and intimacy with the client

  2. coaching presence


C. Communicating effectively

  1. active listening

  2. powerful questioning

  3. direct communication


D. Facilitating learning and results

  1. creating awareness

  2. designing actions

  3. planning and goal setting

  4. managing progress and accountability


IAC Coaching Masteries

IAC Coaching Masteries

  1. Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust

  2. Perceiving affirming and expanding the client’s potential

  3. Engaged listening

  4. Processing in the present

  5. Expressing

  6. Clarifying

  7. Helping the client set and keep clear intentions

  8. Inviting possibility

  9. Helping the client create and use supportive systems and structures


World Association of Business Coaches

WABC Business Coaching Competencies - the business coaching competencies are divided into three areas:

Self-Management--Knowing Oneself and Self-Mastery
Core Coaching Skill-base
Business and Leadership Coaching Capabilities

Self-Management--Knowing Oneself and Self-Mastery

  1. Knowing Yourself--Self-Insight and Understanding

  2. Acknowledging Your Strengths and Development Needs

  3. Self-Mastery--Managing Your Thoughts Feelings and Behaviors in Ways that Promote Behavior Contributing to Career and Organization Success

Core Coaching Skill-Base

  1. Creating the Foundations for Business Coaching

  2. Developing the Business Coaching Relationship  

  3. Promoting Client Understanding

  4. Facilitating the Personal Transformation

  5. Professional Development

Business and Leadership Coaching Capabilities

  1. Alignment

  2. Leadership Knowledge and Credibility

  3. Coach as Leader and Developer of Own Business

  4. Creating and Maintaining Partnerships with all Stakeholders in the Business ?Coaching Process

  5. Understanding Organizational Behavior and Organizational Development?Principles

  6. Assessment

  7. Having Respect for and Knowledge about Multicultural Issues and Diversity



Obviously it may be easy to become lost in the myriad of descriptions of coaching. However one should not lose sight of the fact that coaching is an art-form and there are many ways in which coaches can help.

David Peterson in his chapter “Executive coaching: A critical review and recommendations for advancing the practice” from the 2010 APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology provides a useful list to keep in perspective of what contributes to the effectiveness of a coach.  

  1. Offering an external independent objective perspective.

  2. Creating space and time for reflection.

  3. Identifying development goals and preparing an action plan.

  4. Sharing ideas tips tools and models.

  5. Facilitating an accepting positive supportive encouraging relationship

  6. Providing follow-up conversations that foster a sense of accountability especially if the person makes a commitment to their coach to pursue a specific action

  7. Simply asking the person what would be helpful to them and responding accordingly.

  8. Asking questions that challenge assumptions and help reframe issues.

  9. Offering feedback and advice including third-party feedback from interviews or multi-rater surveys

  10. Spaced practice and repetition.

  11. Using simple coaching formulas such as the GROW model a basic and popular framework for coaching conversations

  12. Finally one of the most significant reasons that it is relatively easy to be a good coach—and yet one which is virtually never mentioned in the literature—is that coaches get multiple tries.


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