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A Model of Coaching Excellence

Posted by Tracy Sinclair, PCC | November 19, 2019 | Comments (3)

We are very excited to have just announced the release our updated ICF Core Competencies model!

This in-depth body of work underpins the highest of standards for professional coaching and is the result of rigorous research and testing using subject matter experts from all over the globe.

Global best practices for organizations that offer certification or credentialing in any profession suggest that reviewing the profession’s competency model every five to seven years. In line with this standard, ICF is committed to regularly reviewing the Core Competencies  to ensure:

  • Accurate understanding of what practicing coaches are actually doing and what they need to know
  • Standards and requirements of the ICF Credential continue to represent excellence in coaching

The most recent review began in late 2017 and was recently approved by the ICF Global Board of Directors at our September 2019 Board meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Our Credentialing and Coaching Science teams have engaged with more than 1,300 coaches from around the world to review the Core Competencies. To complete this work, ICF has been working in partnership with the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), a nonprofit organization with more than 60 years of experience solving challenging problems in the areas of human capital management, education, credentialing, policy analysis, program evaluation and training. What’s more, this research has benefited from the expertise of 60 experienced coaches (including non-ICF coaches) representing 19 countries, who served as subject-matter expert (SME) volunteers throughout every stage of this research. This research and its outcomes would not have been possible without the input of coach practitioners who volunteered their time to complete the research survey and participate as SMEs. We are grateful for the contributions of so many coaches around the world who supported this important work.

The review process has been rigorous and based in research. Here is an overview of the key stages:

  • Targeted literature review, review of coaching audio recordings and semi-structured interviews of six coaching thought leaders
  • Critical Incident workshop with a global panel of 16 coaches who described and analyzed critical work behaviors in coaching
  • Task and Knowledge, Abilities and Other Characteristics (KAOs) workshop with a global panel of 12 coaches to identify key knowledge, abilities, and tasks, essential for professional coaching.
  • Practice analysis survey on Tasks and KAOs (distributed to 41,000 ICF Members, Credential-holders and non-ICF coaches) and an associated analysis of survey results
  • Linkage exercise to connect identified tasks with KAOs needed to perform tasks
  • Core Competency Review workshop held with a panel of 10 experienced coaches to review possible changes to the ICF Core Competencies

Some consistent themes emerged from this process and are reflected in the new model:

  • Ethical behavior and confidentiality are paramount
  • Expansion of the coaching agreement, highlighting three key levels: organization, overall client engagement and individual client sessions
  • Enhancement of the concept of the coach-client partnership to ensure the client’s equal voice and mutual accountability
  • Importance of the coach’s professional development, reflective practice and self-regulation
  • Integration of the client’s context and culture to enable a holistic view of the client

As well as these themes being highlighted and integrated, the new model is also more streamlined, cohesive, succinct and consistent in language. It is also noteworthy that virtually all of the existing concepts in the previous model were still found to be highly relevant, which is testament to the standards of excellence upheld by ICF.

What I personally also see deeply embedded into this new model, and the careful process that was undertaken to produce it, are our ICF Core Values:

  1. Integrity: We uphold the highest standards both for the coaching profession and our organization
  2. Excellence: We set and demonstrate standards of excellence for professional coaching quality, qualification and competence
  3. Collaboration: We value the social connection and community building that occurs through collaborative partnership and co-created achievement
  4. Respect: We are inclusive and value the diversity and richness of our global stakeholders. We put people first, without compromising standards, policies and quality

This updated Core Competencies model will serve as the basis for the ICF Credentialing process through the launch of a new credentialing assessment reflecting the revised competencies. ICF anticipates a lengthy transition process, and we are targeting early 2021 for the launch of the new assessment.

As we continue this work and the implementation of this new model and its associated processes, we will be sure to keep you up to date and informed through regular, detailed and transparent communications.

I, for one, am already excited to be familiarizing myself with this new model and exploring how I can integrate it into my work. I feel great pride and reassurance to be part of a professional body that takes such care to establish and maintain these standards of excellence and professionalism. I encourage you to look out for our ongoing communications about this important step in our journey as an organization.

As we are soon to embark upon our 25th year anniversary in 2020, this new model will mark a key milestone in our history. We now are a community of more than 33,000 Members and 29,000 Credential-holders worldwide—we are many, and yet we are one. We are One ICF, brought together by a single Core Competencies Model that upholds the highest degree of professionalism, and supported by the highest level of rigorous research. In turn, this facilitates our vision that coaching is an integral part of a thriving society and that every ICF Member represents the highest quality of professional coaching. In this way, through our own standard of coaching, each and every one of us enable our work and our contribution to have maximum positive impact in the world around us!

Tracy SInclair Headshot

Tracy Sinclair, PCC

Tracy Sinclair, PCC, is also a trained Coaching Supervisor, Mentor Coach and an ICF Assessor. Tracy trains coaches and works with managers and leaders to develop their coaching capability. She works as an international Corporate Executive and Board Level Coach, a leadership development designer and facilitator working with a wide range of organizations. Tracy also specializes in working with organisations to support them develop coaching culture. She was the President of the UK ICF from 2013-2014. Tracy is a 2019 ICF Global Board Director and Immediate Past Chair.  

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Additionally, for the purpose of full disclosure and as a disclaimer of liability, this content was possibly generated using the assistance of an AI program. Its contents, either in whole or in part, have been reviewed and revised by a human. Nevertheless, the reader/user is responsible for verifying the information presented and should not rely upon this article or post as providing any specific professional advice or counsel. Its contents are provided “as is,” and ICF makes no representations or warranties as to its accuracy or completeness and to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law specifically disclaims any and all liability for any damages or injuries resulting from use of or reliance thereupon.

Comments (3)

  1. Thanks for this informative overview of the new Competency framework, how it has been developed and the themes I find really helpful and hope others will to. I really appreciate your link to our ICF Values and One ICF. I am excited to learn more and focus on this framework going forward to support my development as a coach. So grateful also to all those coaches and the SME who contributing time and their knowledge and thinking to this updated framework and to those initial coaches who developed the original competency framework much of which has last the test of time.

    • Thanks Hilary! It is very exciting and the depth and rigour that has been applied to the development of this new framework really underpin our commitment to quality and the highest standards of excellence in professional coaching!

  2. Thanks for the overview and the background on how it has been done and reached to the new core competency model.

    I appreciated the increasing focus on coaching as mindset, and the elaborated link around the value related aspects.

    Thanks Tracy for the informative overview and the context

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