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Does ICF Approve of Your Relationship? Updated ICF Core Competencies (3-5).

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

A coach is nothing without their client


Okay, that's a bit dramatic. But as much as we like to read, watch, or learn about coaching, a coach can only be the coach when they are with the client.


Sure, you've demonstrated you have an Ethical Practice & Embody a Coaching Mindset. That's all good and well but unfortunately it doesn't do anyone good if you don't know how to Co-Create the Relationship with a client!


Luckily for you the International Coaching Federation (ICF) updated their Core Competencies to show you how and we at CLCI Live cover this exact topic with Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.), and Anthony Lopez (M.C.L.C)


Why does this all matter?


At the beginning of 2021 all ICF-Accredited Coach Training Programs were to start incorporating the new curricula. Not only that but the Coach Knowledge Assessment used for ICF members to be accredited would start reflecting these updated competencies in the second half of 2021 (THATS NOW!).


Last week we went over Core Competencies 1 & 2 and what competency really meant in regards to coaching. Now we move on to the next grouping where we talk about agreements, trust & safety, and being present.


The Core Competencies

In the second in our series on the Core Competencies we dive into how coaching is a relationship that requires both parties to come to the table with an understanding of the agreements being made and how they will be maintained.


And for any progress to be seen, the client must feel safe and free to express themselves while the coach maintains their presence in the conversation.


So as you read these Core Competencies, think about how you can not only commit these to heart & memory, but how you can actively use them in your coaching practice.


B. Co-Creating the Relationship


3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements: Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, process, plans and goals. Establishes agreements for the overall coaching engagement as well as those for each coaching session.


  1. Explains what coaching is and is not and describes the process to the client and relevant stakeholders

  2. Reaches agreement about what is and is not appropriate in the relationship, what is and is not being offered, and the responsibilities of the client and relevant stakeholders

  3. Reaches agreement about the guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching relationship such as logistics, fees, scheduling, duration, termination, confidentiality and inclusion of others

  4. Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to establish an overall coaching plan and goals

  5. Partners with the client to determine client-coach compatibility

  6. Partners with the client to identify or reconfirm what they want to accomplish in the session

  7. Partners with the client to define what the client believes they need to address or resolve to achieve what they want to accomplish in the session

  8. Partners with the client to define or reconfirm measures of success for what the client wants to accomplish in the coaching engagement or individual session

  9. Partners with the client to manage the time and focus of the session

  10. Continues coaching in the direction of the client’s desired outcome unless the client indicates otherwise

  11. Partners with the client to end the coaching relationship in a way that honors the experience

4. Cultivates Trust and Safety: Partners with the client to create a safe, supportive environment that allows the client to share freely. Maintains a relationship of mutual respect and trust.


  1. Seeks to understand the client within their context which may include their identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs

  2. Demonstrates respect for the client’s identity, perceptions, style and language and adapts one’s coaching to the client

  3. Acknowledges and respects the client’s unique talents, insights and work in the coaching process

  4. Shows support, empathy and concern for the client

  5. Acknowledges and supports the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs and suggestions

  6. Demonstrates openness and transparency as a way to display vulnerability and build trust with the client

5. Maintains Presence: Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident

  1. Remains focused, observant, empathetic and responsive to the client

  2. Demonstrates curiosity during the coaching process

  3. Manages one’s emotions to stay present with the client

  4. Demonstrates confidence in working with strong client emotions during the coaching process

  5. Is comfortable working in a space of not knowing

  6. Creates or allows space for silence, pause or reflection

Remember, coaching is a two way street. As much as you create the relationship, so does the client. If you aren't comfortable coaching them there is no problem with saying "I don't think this is working for us". Coach's work best when they are on the same frequency as their client and the best way to tune in is by communicating effectively.


Be sure to join us next week on CLCI Live as we talk about Core Competencies 6-7. Active Listening and Evoking Awareness with the client,


Thank you,


Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr., and Anthony Lopez


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