ICF core competencies

Just as it is for lawyers, engineers, doctors, etc… we all have a series of competencies that we have to live by, practice and protect.

Patrick Lencioni says “What clients are really interested in is honesty plus a baseline of competence”.

For that and so many other reasons, the ICF designed core competencies as guidelines to better the understanding of skills and approaches used today in the coaching profession.

They are in total ELEVEN competencies but grouped into four set.

Let’s try to give you an overview:


  1. Meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards.

A competent coach exhibits an understanding of coaching ethics and standards, with the ability to apply them appropriately in all Coaching situations

  1. Establishing the coaching agreement.

A competent coach fully acknowledges what’s required in all Coaching interactions to come to an agreement with the client after having a clear picture of what’s expected from both parties.



  1. Establishing trust and intimacy with the client.

A competent coach has the ability to create a supportive environment that yields ongoing mutual respect and trust.

  1. Coaching presence

Being conscious enough to create healthy relationships with clients, devising means that are open, flexible and firm.



  1. Active listening.

A competent coach focuses on what the client is saying and is not saying, understands the meaning of what’s said in the context of the client’s desires plus supporting his/her self-expression.

  1. Powerful questioning

A good answer depends on how powerful the question was, a competent coach asks questions that reveal the information needed for maximum benefits to the coaching relationship.

  1. Direct communication

One of the most powerful if not the best tool for a competent coach is effective communication during the coaching session, using a language that has the greatest positive impact to the client.



  1. Creating awareness.

A competent coach goes beyond client’s words, expresses insights and helps the clients discover for themselves new thoughts, beliefs, emotions, etc., that helps them to decide and to act on their decision.

  1. Designing actions.

A competent coach brainstorms, helps clients focus and move with them through their development steps to achieve the intended goals.

  1. Planning and goal setting.

Without SMART goals we venture blindly, a competent coach helps clients identify their goals and make plans to yield results in a flexible yet interesting manner.

  1. Managing progress and accountability

A competent coach holds attention on what is important for the client, and leaves responsibility with them to act.

This concludes the 11 ICF core competencies.

In summary, a competent coach demonstrates knowledge of Coaching conversations by focusing on inquiry, exploration, present and future issues.

Great coaches are constantly improving their skills, exercising and sharpening their competencies to make this world a better place through their Coaching profession.