The Importance of The ICF Core Competencies to Credentialed ICF Coaches

Coachee pondering Silence
What’s Really Going on When a Client is Silent? | Get “Heart to Heart” with Julie Johnson MCC | The Launchpad
September 21, 2021
Coach FEATURE: Geetika Agarwal | The Launchpad
September 21, 2021

The Importance of The ICF Core Competencies to Credentialed ICF Coaches

The ICF core competencies have always been of great significance to the coaching profession.  

Core Competencies Defined

What are Core Competencies for an organization? 

According to, “core competencies are a company’s unique abilities, products, and services that give it a competitive advantage in its industry and market.” Core competencies help an organization distinguish its products from its rivals and reduce its costs than its competitors and thereby attain a competitive advantage. In the case of ICF, its core competencies were established to help distinguish its coaches from coaches certified through other organizations. It was also carefully developed to better understand the skills and approaches used within today’s coaching profession. 

ICF Certification VIDEO

Why are these ICF core competencies mentioned above important to professional coaches?   

Since 1998, they have provided a vital foundation for the coaching profession.  They have helped to give the coaches the proper conduct and approach to their coaching styles. Trained and credentialed ICF coaches demonstrate knowledge, skills, and quality work that sets them apart from their competitors. 

The Updated ICF Core Competencies 

 In November 2019, after engaging in rigorous job analysis research, the ICF concluded that it was time to update the competency model to reflect how much the profession had grown and evolved over the last two decades. The new competency model offers a more straightforward, more streamlined structure and integrates consistent, clear language. They are grouped into four domains according to those that fit together logically based on common ways of looking at the competencies in each group.

  1. Foundation

Demonstrates Ethical Practice

Definition: Understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards of coaching.

Embodies a Coaching Mindset

Definition: Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible, and client-centered.

  1. Co-Creating the Relationship

Establishes and Maintains Agreements

Definition: 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.

Cultivates Trust and Safety

Definition: 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.

Maintains Presence

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

  1. Communicating Effectively

Listens Actively

Definition: Focuses on what the client is and is not saying to fully understand what is being communicated in the context of the client systems and to support the client. 

Evokes Awareness

Definition: Facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor, or analogy

  1. Cultivating Learning and Growth

Facilitates Client Growth

Definition: Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process.

The ICF Coaching competencies are essential to every professional coach’s success and credentialed coaches who abide by the updated core competencies reflect respect for the job and professionalism. 

Special Bonus – Learn 3 simple ways to become a life coach with the “30-Days to Become a Coach” video toolkit when you fill in the form at the top right and click the “Watch The Videos Now” button. You’ll learn how to change your client’s life in 45 minutes.

Margaret K. Olubiyi
Life Coach
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar