ICF Core Competencies 2: Embodies a Coaching Mindset

ethical principles ethical standards icf core competencies values Dec 12, 2023

Pic from Gary Butterfield

Competency 2 from The International Coaching Federation is "Embodies a Coaching Mindset". With the definition that as coaches we develop and maintain a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client centered.

As coaches and facilitators of coaching conversations it means that when we enter these conversations, we come with this mindset. Open, curious, flexible and centered on the person or people we are with.

This might mean in practice, that we take a moment or a chunk of time to prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally so that we can be intentional about this mindset. This can look different for different coaches, some might ground themselves with breathing exercises, some might read over previous notes, some might grab some fresh air and some might simply remind themselves that they are entering a coaching conversation and to reflect on how they are being.

Coaching conversations can be joyous and transformational, and they can also be challenging for the thinker and for us as coaches. We have our own lived experience and stories that may be confronted in the conversations we are facilitating. This isn't wrong, it's simply being human. But it's what we do with our thoughts and internal dialogue in the moment that matters.

As coaches it is down to us to regulate our emotions and to put aside our own "stuff" to be wholly present with our thinking partners. This might take work and ongoing reflection. At Stellar Conversations we recommended that anyone facilitating coaching conversations develops an ongoing reflective practice. This might be supervision, mentoring or peer support. It is also recommended that as coaches we engage in ongoing learning and development. In our experience at Stellar Conversations, this is something we do well as coaches, it aligns with our curious nature and our belief in growth.

Coaching isn't about directing or advising, having a mindset that is open and flexible also means acknowledging that the people we are in conversation with, are responsible for their own choices. Sometimes in coaching conversations those choices won't be the same as the choices that we might make. We are to remain open and flexible and curious around this. To remove our own judgements as they arise. By having this open, flexible, curious and person centered mindset, we must also be aware of the influence of context and culture on our thinking partners and on us.

As coaches and facilitators of coaching conversations, we can use our self-awareness and intuition to support our coaching conversations and the people we are conversing with. We can check in with what we are noticing if we think it will support the outcome that the thinker is working towards, not simply for our own curiosity. Our curious mindset supports the thinker, not our own curiosity. At Stellar we talk about “lending our curiosity” to thinking partners.

The next time you are entering into a coaching conversation, remind yourself of this mindset. How might you stay open, curious, flexible and be thinker led. When you feel judgment creeping in, or self-talk is taking away your presence, remind yourself of this coaching mindset. 

This mindset can serve in so many ways. In your relationships and discussions with colleagues, with direct reports, with family,  as a facilitator, as a trainer, as a manager, as a leader, as a person who interacts with people, as a partner and in how you relate to yourself. 

Coaching skills are brilliant for coaching conversations, they are also brilliant skills for life. 

How might you embody this mindset today?