Coaching is a relatively new field that applies research from psychology, management, and adult learning theory to help clients achieve their goals. In the words of the most well-known accreditation body for coaching, the International Coach Federation (ICF), “Professional coaching is an ongoing professional relationship that helps people produce extraordinary results in their lives, careers, businesses or organizations” (http://www.coachfederation.org/ethics).
What are the coaching skills and competencies needed to help clients achieve the “extraordinary results” they’re seeking in their lives? The ICF has determined eleven specific competencies needed to be an effective coach. These competencies are listed and defined below:
Setting the Foundation
- Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards – Understanding of coaching ethics and standards and ability to apply them appropriately in all coaching situations.
- 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.
Co-Creating the Relationship
- Establishing Trust and Intimacy with the Client – Ability to create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust.
- Coaching Presence – Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.
- 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.
- Powerful Questioning – Ability to ask questions that reveal the information needed for maximum benefit to the coaching relationship and the client.
- Direct Communication – Ability to communicate effectively during coaching sessions, and to use language that has the greatest positive impact on the client.
Facilitating Learning and Results
- 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.
- Designing Actions – Ability to create with the client opportunities for ongoing learning, during coaching and in work/life situations, and for taking new actions that will most effectively lead to agreed-upon coaching results.
- Planning and Goal Setting – Ability to develop and maintain an effective coaching plan with the client.
- Managing Progress and Accountability – Ability to hold attention on what is important for the client, and to leave responsibility with the client to take action (http://www.coachfederation.org).
All of us engage in informal coaching, to some extent, in our day-to-day lives – with our work colleagues, friends, and family members. The coaching competencies outlined above are potentially useful skills for enhancing our sphere of influence in our work and non-work roles. For example, by practicing active listening, powerful questioning, and goal-setting skills in our daily interactions with others, we can help the individuals and groups with whom we’re communicating gain greater self-awareness and focus on measurable goals which are important in achieving desired objectives.
Coaching competencies are useful skills for all of us to develop in order to increase our sphere of influence, in the workplace as well as in other areas of our lives.
Dr. Ann Herd, SPHR, is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Leadership and Learning at UofL.