2 | Core Competencies

What IS coaching?

The International Coach Federation (www.coachfederation.org) defines coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” I often describe coaching as framing conversations through powerful questions to help clients achieve their desired outcomes. Whether you use the International Coach Federation definition of coaching, or one of your own, you’ll notice that there are some common threads that are woven into these definitions. Typically, there are five elements that “show up” in just about every coaching situation and relationship:

  1. Coaching is a partnership. The coach and the client are involved in a collaborative process that is totally focused on the person being coached. The coach must create a safe, trusting environment that provides opportunities for fresh perspectives and new ways of being can be explored.
  2. Coaching accelerates what is already underway or about to begin. Coaches have a mindset of curiosity and wonder as they help clients tap into their passions and preferred futures. Through deep listening and powerful questions, the coach helps the other person gain greater clarity about what they really want and what goals and strategy they need to employ to get there.
  3. Coaches maximize potential as they move from what is to what might be. Coaches look for and develop the strengths and giftedness of the person being coached. They guide people toward developing plans to move forward, learn from their results, and make course corrections as needed.
  4. Coaches focus on short-term wins and shifts in attitudes, assumptions, words, and actions. These shifts often include trying on new habits and ways of being, or helping people recognizing limiting beliefs that may be holding them back from experiencing a better, brighter future. There’s a heavy emphasis on what clients will do NEXT so that intentions become reality.
  5. Coaches view the people they coach as the experts, not themselves. Effective coaching draws out the strengths and wisdom of the client. They help clients identify where they can find the resources they need to move forward.

Questions for Students

A | Setting the Foundation

The eight core competencies highlighted by the International Coach Federation’s Core Competency Model reflect the most current thinking about the essential skills a coach needs to facilitate transformational coaching sessions. The update model place particular emphasis on ethical behavior and confidentiality, the importance of a coaching mindset and ongoing reflective practice, the various levels of coaching agreements, and the partnership between coach and client. Listed below is a summary of how each core competency is defined and how a coach would demonstrate the use of each competency.
A. Foundation

1 | Demonstrates Ethical Practice
       Definition: Understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards of coaching

  • Demonstrates personal integrity and honesty in interactions with clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders.
  • Is sensitive to clients' identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs.
  • Uses language appropriate and respectful to clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders.
  • Abides by the ICF Code of Ethics and upholds the Core Values.
  • Maintains confidentiality with client information per stakeholder agreements and pertinent laws.
  • Maintains the distinctions between coaching, consulting, psychotherapy and other support professions.
  • Refers clients to other support professionals, as appropriate.

Demonstrating ethical practices is all about setting appropriate boundaries in the coaching relationship that allow it to flourish. A boundary is the space you provide between yourself and others—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Boundaries provide space for you physically, emotionally, and mentally. They set parameters for the coaching services that you will provide others and define what you need from others. Specifically, they:
  • Provide parameters for what you will and will not do.
  • Protect the coaching relationship between you and the client.
  • Foster mutual respect and accountability.
  • Reduce confusion and stress.

The best time to set boundaries is "proactively" before a boundary has been violated. Boundaries are often violated when they are assumed rather than explicitly stated. Make a list of what you need from the client to do your best work and invite the client to list what they need as well. During the Coaching School you’ll to review lists of expectations, norms and boundaries and determine which ones are appropriate for your setting.

2 | Embodies a Coaching Mindset
       Definition: Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered
  • Acknowledges that clients are responsible for their own choices.
  • Engages in ongoing learning and development as a coach.
  • Develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one's coaching.
  • Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others.
  • Uses awareness of self and one's intuition to benefit clients.
  • Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one's emotions.
  • Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions.
  • Seeks help from outside sources when necessary.

Committed coaches truly love their clients and want the best for them. They are naturally curious about their clients and how they can best serve their interests. They find ways to encourage and draw out clients without enabling them. They take time to prepare for coaching sessions and then reflect on the sessions after they occur. They are self-aware while also paying attention to their clients’ unique situations and ministry context. Committed coaches strive to mentally and emotionally ready to bring out God’s best in their clients, spark new awareness and possibilities in others, and remain laser-focused on the client’s needs and desires.

B | Co-creating the Relationship

3 | 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.

  • Explains what coaching is and is not and describes the process to the client and relevant stakeholders.
  • 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.
  • Reaches agreement about the guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching relationship such as logistics, fees, scheduling, duration, termination, confidentiality and inclusion of others.
  • Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to establish an overall coaching plan and goals.
  • Partners with the client to determine client-coach compatibility.
  • Partners with the client to identify or reconfirm what they want to accomplish in the session.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Partners with the client to manage the time and focus of the session.
  • Continues coaching in the direction of the client's desired outcome unless the client indicates otherwise.
  • Partners with the client to end the coaching relationship in a way that honors the experience.

                                                                                     Creating and reviewing the Coaching Agreement
The coaching agreement defines the parameters of the coaching relationship. It takes the guesswork out of coaching, aiding the coach’s desire to follow the client’s lead rather than the other way around. Masterful coaches understand the ongoing nature of the three coaching agreements listed below:
  • The initial agreement.
  • The ongoing agreement (the 5 questions listed in chapter one).
  • The ongoing evaluation and “check-in process.

PART 1 | The initial coaching agreement helps describe . . .
  • The terms of the coaching relationship in writing. It outlines fees, schedules, responsibilities, and expectations of the coach and client. Whether you are coaching internal or external clients, it’s still recommended that coaches create a coaching agreement that outlines expectations, and possible, desired outcomes.
  • What coaching is and isn't.
  • Whether or not the coach and client appear to be a good match.
  • The needs of the client and the purpose for working with a coach. Consider asking, "What do you want to be able to say three months from now that you cannot say today?" This helps both the coach and client gain clarity about the desired outcome.

PART 2 | The ongoing coaching agreement which addresses the “5 Questions" we ask our clients:
  • What do you want to talk about?
  • What do you wish to take away from the session?
  • Are we still addressing what you wish to discuss?
  • What will you do next to act on your intentions?
  • Who will hold you responsible for your next steps?

PART 3 | The evaluation process. This frequently includes course corrections that may potentially lead to dramatic shifts in the overall desired outcomes. Coaches frequently ask their clients:
  • How are we doing?
  • Based on our coaching to date, what's your ongoing, developing vision?
  • On a scale of 1-10, rate the overall progress you've made. What is needed to take it up one or two levels?
  • Is there anything that’s hindering your capacities to move forward?
  • What kinds of additional support may be needed at this time?
  • What would you like to report back to me the next time we meet?

A frequent mistake new coaches make is in moving through the coaching agreement quickly-in as little as two to five minutes. The clearer the client and coach are with the agreement, the better the outcome. It's not unusual to spend the bulk of a coaching session on this area—15-20 minutes. Here are questions and statements that help clients and their coaches fine-tune the coaching agreement and evaluate the coaching process:
  • Tell me more. Because people are so busy, they rarely have time to think and talk. It's extremely beneficial to intentionally provide space for people to say more. Time and time again we hear clients extol the benefits of "getting things out." Many clients need to verbalize their thoughts and intentions before acting upon them.
  • What is the one thing I need to hear in order to best coach you? This helps the clients be laser-focused and selective about sharing only what's absolutely critical to their overall progress.
  • Taking into account all that's on your plate right now, is this topic/ issue the most important one (and if not, what is)? This question helps clients focus on the issues that contribute most to their overall success and satisfaction.

Effective coaching requires building into the process ongoing feedback loops that allow both the coach and the client to make course corrections in the relationship and the outcomes.

4 | 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.
  • Seeks to understand the client within their context which may include their identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs
  • Demonstrates respect for the client's identity, perceptions, style and language and adapts one’s coaching to the client
  • Acknowledges and respects the client's unique talents, insights and work in the coaching process
  • Shows support, empathy and concern for the client
  • Acknowledges and supports the client's expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs and suggestions
  • Demonstrates openness and transparency as a way to display vulnerability and build trust with the client

Trust is the foundation of all relationships. This is why holding one’s confidences is so critical. People need to know that the coaching environment is a safe place for share what’s really on their mind. For many clients, their coach is one of the few people in their lives where they can be totally vulnerable. Confidentiality is key, as is maintaining a neutral, non-judgemental presence during coaching sessions.

C . Effectively Communicating

5 | Maintains Presence
       Definition: 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.
C. Communicating effectively.
This fundamental and powerful skill can make or break a coach/client relationship. The International Coach Federation describes presence as the “ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, and confident.”
Being present is about being in the moment with a laser focus on the client. As a coach, strive to eliminate potential distractions and filters including your own preconceived thoughts and judgments. Being fully present means listening to understand and asking open-ended questions that help your clients explore issues, opportunities and challenges more deeply. Listed below are five tips for increasing your coaching presence.

TIP 1 | Remember: it’s not about you, it's about the people you coach
The coach is confident about not knowing or identifying the solution. Their focus is on helping the client shift perspectives and explore possibilities. The client is always in charge and the coach is a solid support partner. Like being a dance partner, the coach follows the client’s lead.

TIP 2 | Silence is okay
Coaches often we feel the need to fill in the gaps during a conversation. Being fully present may involve periods of silence. The practice of allowing silence to linger often leads to clients sharing more of what’s on their mind.

TIP 3 | Seek to understand rather than to be understood
This habit, highlighted in Stephen Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is an essential element in developing a coaching presence. Too often, people listen only enough to respond. Instead of really hearing what the other person is saying, energy is spent preparing an answer or response. Effective coaches practice active listening—listening with the expectation of hearing something new or surprising.

TIP 4 | Share your truth through thoughtfully crafted questions
Maintaining a coaching presence often shows up when the coach calls out what they are observing and trusts their intuition to support the client in gaining clarity, increasing self-awareness, and finding the right solutions. Try using phrases similar to the ones below:
  • "I've noticed that ______________ and I'm curious how you came to that conclusion."
  • "You've mentioned that you've been ____________. I'm wondering how that approach is working for you?"

TIP 5 | Be curious, present, and positive
One of the most important things a coach can do in any coaching or personal relationship is to be fully present and in the moment. Your coaching presence shines through when you show that you care and that you're listening to understand. Listen to truly understand the other person’s perspective—what they are saying and feeling—without quickly forming a judgment or jumping to share your thoughts. Through their words and actions, effective coaches create settings that lead to new insights, ideas, and possibilities. Coaches also pay attention to how their tone and body language may shut down rather than spark an atmosphere of openness and possibilities.

6 | 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 client self-expression
  • Considers the client's context, identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs to enhance understanding of what the client is communicating.
  • Reflects or summarizes what the client communicated to ensure clarity and understanding.
  • Recognizes and inquires when there is more to what the client is communicating
  • Notices, acknowledges and explores the client's emotions, energy shifts, non-verbal cues or other behaviors.
  • Integrates the client's words, tone of voice and body language to determine the full meaning of what is being communicated.
  • Notices trends in the client's behaviors and emotions across sessions to discern themes and patterns.

All coaching begins with active, engaged listening. The capacity of one's listening skills has a direct bearing on the quality of the coaching experience. We can't draw out the best in others if we haven't listened for it. Effective listening involves:
  • Being curious about the other person.
  • Creating a safe space for someone to revisit past results and core assumptions.
  • Exploring possibilities rather than giving answers.
  • Reflecting back what you’ve heard or observed from the client.

Active listening is much more than hearing what a person says:
  • Hearing is an auditory process. Listening is an intentional process.
  • Hearing is done with the ears. Listening involves all of the senses and the total being.
  • Hearing includes words, details, and information. Listening adds deeper layers.
  • Hearing is to know about someone. Listening is knowing someone.

Coaches are encouraged to listen 80% of the time and respond 20% of the time, as they:
  • Listen to what the other person is saying, as well as what they are not saying.
  • Listen from deep within (gut-level listening).
  • Listen without judgment, criticism, or agenda.
  • Listen in ways that create safe places for people to share.
  • Listen without thinking about what you will say next.
  • Listen for values, frustrations, motivation, and needs.
  • Listen for the greatness in the people being coached.
  • Listen for limiting beliefs and false assumptions.
  • Listen for shoulds, oughts, and musts that are indicators of obligation and guilt versus what people really want.
  • Listen for what the other person is not seeing or not aware of.
  • Listen for the tone, pace, volume, inflection, and frequently-used words.
  • Listen for the larger context as well as the important details.
  • Listen to their own reactions based on what clients are sharing.

To be able to listen at multiple levels, coaches quiet their minds of chatter or internal conversations. They create physical environments that promote deep listening. They become comfortable with silence, resisting the urge to fill the space. List potential barriers that prevent you from listening deeply. Try on one or more of the exercises below to enhance your listening skills:
  • Mute the TV. Since most of what is communicated is nonverbal, try muting the TV and have some fun guessing what's being communicated. Watch people’s facial expressions. Read their body language. Notice their gestures and how they use their hands when speaking. Consider how your own nonverbal language may be influencing your coaching conversations.
  • Mirror. Pair up with a partner, with each person taking a turn to talk and to listen. When you're the listener, do your best to listen as if you were a mirror. Reflect back what you heard. Then ask, “Did I get that right? Did I hear you correctly?”
  • Record a conversation. With the permission of the other person, record a conversation in which you intentionally attempted to listen deeply. Right after the conversation, write down what your deep listening revealed. Then, go back and listen to the recording of the conversation. What more did you hear? What had you missed?
  • Practice selective listening. Decide for the next week that you are going to be selective in your listening and really listen for one specific element. For example, you might choose to identify the values you hear underneath people's words. Or you might listen only for signs of frustration, or for signs of greatness. Over the course of the week, pay attention to that one area, training yourself to listen for this on item. Notice when you hear the item clearly—what circumstances made that possible in you and around you? What was going on in the time when it was challenging to hear the item?

Great listeners tap into all their senses. They hear with their:
  • Ears. They listen to the spoken words, as well as tone, pace, pitch, and inflection. They listen for the essence of what is being said.
  • Eyes. Most of our communication is nonverbal. Great listeners notice the body language of the one speaking.
  • Full body and being. Gifted listeners notice how they are receiving the message. They pay attention to what is happening inside of them as they listen.

Active Listening leads to carefully chosen words by the coach
Words matter. Our choice of language can inspire someone toward peak performance and becoming a better leader or it can reinforce doubts and limiting beliefs—dashing hopes and dreams. Think about your language through four angles of vision:
  1. Our Actual Words. Ask yourself, “How are my words resonating with the other person?” Do my words foster a safe, inviting environment that encourages people to go deeper and address core issues? Do my words infuse assumptions, presuppositions, judgments, or suggestions into the conversation? Coaches intentionally choose words that are neutral and free of agendas. A coach's tone of voice is equally important. The same words with a different tone can be received much differently by the client.
  2. The Matching of Words and Language. Coaches notice the words and phrases of the other person. When appropriate, coaches will match their words and phrases with the person they are coaching and introduce new words or phrases. Coaches also pay attention to the pace and tone of the client's language. For example, when asked a question, some clients choose to process first and then talk, while others tend to process by talking to arrive at an answer. Seasoned coaches strive to mirror the other person’s words and language to convey a feeling of acceptance. On occasion, the coach may change up the pace and pattern to get a client’s attention and emphasize key points.
  3. Distinctions. Distinctions are two words or phrases that are close in meaning yet convey subtle differences. Those subtle differences create a new awareness that is instrumental in propelling the individual forward. Consider the how the following distinctions may shape or reframe how conversations: Do we define life by its obstacles versus its opportunities? Do we focus on perfection or excellence? Are we adding more versus adding value? Do we live by default or live by design? Do we focus on working hard or producing results? Do we categorize options with an “either/or” mindset or a "both/and” perspective? Do you prioritize what's on your schedule or schedule your priorities? Do you plan or prepare to plan? Do you diagnose or develop? Do you do it or empower others to do it? Do you tell or inquire? Do you state or wonder? Do you move from mindlessness to mindfulness? Do you focus on excellence or effectiveness? Coaches are mindful not to select words that may limit a client’s options and approaches.
  4. Acknowledgment. Acknowledgment creates an environment of acceptance and safety. When people feel safe and accepted, they are more likely to be curious and explore new things. In what ways do you acknowledge a person’s insights? Strengths? Dreams? Accomplishments? Recent wins? New learnings and new approaches?

Active listening is a skill, when used consistently, enhances all our relationships. Practice active listening with your friends, family members and colleagues in addition to the people you coach.

7 | Evokes Awareness
      Definition: Facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor or analogy.
       Coaches evoke awareness in clients when they:
  • Consider the client’s experience when deciding what might be most useful.
  • Challenge the client in way to evoke awareness, insights and approaches.
  • Ask questions about the client, such as their way of thinking, values, needs, wants and beliefs.
  • Ask questions that help clients explore elements beyond their current thinking.
  • Invite clients to share more about their experience in the moment.
  • Notice what is working or not working to enhance client progress.
  • Adjust their coaching approaches in response to the client's needs.
  • Help clients identify factors that influence current and future patterns of behavior, thinking or emotion.
  • Invite clients to generate ideas about how they can move forward and what they are willing or able to do.
  • Support clients in reframing perspectives
  • Share observations, insights and feelings, without attachment, that have the potential to create new learnings for the client

Creating awareness takes it one step further and explores new ways of being, as well as doing. Creating new awareness is like raising the blinds and letting in the light of additional information, perspective, and intention. New awareness is fostered when:
  • Curiosity is encouraged.
  • Clarifying questions are raised.
  • Beliefs and assumptions are articulated and verified.
  • Clients must consider different perspectives and approaches.
  • Clients are open to other ways of viewing and interpreting the same situation.
How does the coach facilitate new awareness?
  • Contextual listening. The coach considers and explores the various contexts of the person being coached (e.g., the bigger picture, the total person, previous experiences, and the values of the person).
  • Missing pieces. The coach helps individuals and groups see and say what they can't quite see or say. Because the coach is listening on multiple levels, the coach hears underlying values, motivation, greatness, frustration, etc. Simply being a mirror and holding up for the other what we're observing creates new awareness.
  • Drilling down. Similar to the layers of an onion, the coaching process peels away the layers and gets to the core issues.
  • Listening for clues. Clients always offer clues about themselves. If we fail to notice these clues, we miss opportunities for helping clients call forth new possibilities in their lives.

Addressing Limiting Beliefs and False Assumptions
One of the most powerful ways of creating awareness in a coaching relationship is to help clients identify and transform their limiting beliefs and false assumptions. Use the following list to see if you recognize some of your own:
  • I have to have all the answers. I have no choice.
  • I have no power.
  • I’m not a leader.
  • Change is always difficult. It isn't possible.
  • What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
  • Peace is always better than honesty.

Limiting beliefs and false assumptions can be simple, yet very harmful. Coaches often play a very important role in helping others make their beliefs and assumptions transparent so that they can be examined, tested, and potentially reimagined.
New awareness is fostered when:
  • Curiosity is encouraged.
  • Clarifying questions are raised.
  • Beliefs and assumptions are articulated and verified.
  • Clients intentionally consider a different perspective.
  • Clients are open to other ways of viewing and interpreting the same situation.

Ways a coach facilitates new awareness
  • Contextual listening. The coach considers and explores the various contexts of the person being coached (e.g. the bigger picture, the total person, previous experiences, and the values of the person).
  • Missing pieces. The coach helps individuals and groups see and say what they can’t quite see or say. Because the coach is listening on multiple levels, the coach hears underlying values, motivation, greatness, frustration, etc. Simply being a mirror and holding up for the other what we’re observing creates new awareness.
  • Drilling down. Like layers of an onion, the coaching process peels away the layers and gets to the core issues.

Sample questions that raise new awareness
  • What kind of problems and crises do you keep attracting?
  • What do you keep doing that limits your success?
  • What thoughts are repeatedly playing in your head?

One of the most powerful ways of creating awareness in a coaching relationship is to help clients identify and transform their limiting beliefs and false assumptions. Use the list below to see if you recognize some of your own:
  • I have to have all the answers.
  • I have no choice.
  • I have no power.
  • Change is always difficult.
  • Change takes time.
  • Peace is always better than honesty.

Powerful Questions and Powerful Questioning
Individuals, teams, and organizations change when they start asking different questions. Here are some sample questions you might be asking now:
  • What would happen if we went to the people we seek to serve rather than waiting for them to come to us?
  • What else could we try besides what we’ve always done in the past?
  • What to people need to know or do before they’d be willing to embrace this proposal?
  • Who else could help you with this project?
  • Who else might have insights or be a source of wisdom related to this challenge?

Powerful questioning helps people re-frame the problem and potential solutions. They address limiting beliefs or inaccurate assumptions. Powerful questions move people beyond a scarcity mindset toward one of growth and abundance. List the questions you frequently ask during a coaching session. Are they limiting or are they powerful? Do they leave room for contemplation and reflection? Do they spark new possibilities and stimulate creativity? Do they help individuals and groups know and do what is right for them? Powerful questions are:
  • Directly connected to deep listening, enabling the coach to craft the most effective questions. Often, the most powerful questions are created in the moment which required deep, engaged listening.
  • Brief. They get right to the point, and one point only.
  • Free of any hidden agenda. They are not leading or suggestive.
  • Usually open-ended. Yes/no questions usually result in a yes/no response, which force an end to the conversation and enable either/or thinking. Powerful questions promote both/and thinking, opening up clients to a fuller range of possibilities.
  • Clarifying. They help clarify and slow down automatic responses and thinking.
  • Perspective-shifting. Powerful questions invite us to view situations from a different angle or perspective.
  • Ones that draw out the client’s wisdom. Remember that the coach is not the expert and does not have to figure anything out or come up with solutions. Craft questions that help clients discover and develop their own perspective and wisdom about the situation.

Types of powerful questions
Questions that build on what’s already present:
  • How could you make better use of your personal strengths? Your team’s strengths?
  • Who else could we invite that would be interested in this cause/event?
  • What energizes you about your current role? How could you do more of what you enjoy?
  • Who else could benefit from the services you provide?
Questions that help client’s gain new perspectives and understanding:
  • What's the truth about this situation?
  • Who do you remind yourself of?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • Is there anything else that would be important for me to know?

Questions that evoke discovery:
  • What do you really, really want?
  • What’s perfect about this?
  • What is the gift of this?
  • What additional information do you need?
  • How much is this costing you?
  • Who can help you with this?

Questions that promote clarity and learning:
  • What if things are as bad as you say they are?
  • Where are you sabotaging yourself?
  • What's the cost of not changing?

Questions that call for action:
  • What's possible today?
  • How soon can you resolve this?
  • Who do you know that's going through this?
  • What does success look like?
  • What's the first step? When will you take this step?

Create a list of your “top 10” questions (Jim’s sample list below)
  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate ...?
  2. What are you tolerating in life or ministry? What’s the payoff for not taking action?
  3. What's working for you in this situation? What’s not?
  4. What would you like to be celebrating a year from now?
  5. What keeps getting in the way?
  6. In what ways are contributing to the problem?
  7. What are viable solutions? What is the simplest solution?
  8. Who can help you with this?
  9. What can you do this week to act on your intentions?
  10. Are you willing to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve what you really, really want?

Jump start meetings with powerful questions
When building meeting agendas, encourage leaders to replace meeting topics with powerful questions that promote constructive conversations. Listed below are a few samples:
  • In place of “hospitality” agenda item, ask “What would a "wow" experience look and feel like for a first-time visitor?"
  • In place of “stewardship” agenda item, ask “How could we move more of our members toward giving online?"
  • In place of “pastor’s report” ask, “How can we help more members share in fulfilling God’s mission?"
  • In place of “strategic plan report” ask, “Where do we see our members discussing and acting on our core values?"

C . Facilitating Learning and Growth

8. Facilitates Client Growth
       Definition: Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process.
  • Works with the client to integrate new awareness, insight or learning into their worldview and behaviors.
  • Partners with the client to design goals, actions and accountability measures that integrate and expand new learning.
  • Acknowledges and supports client autonomy in the design of goals, actions, and methods of accountabiIity.
  • Supports the client in identifying potential results or learning from identified action steps.
  • Invites the client to consider how to move forward, including resources, support and potential barriers.
  • Partners with the client to summarize learning and insight within or between sessions
  • Celebrates the client's progress and successes.
  • Partners with the client to close the session.

One of the primary reasons a person or a group decides to work with a coach is that they want to take action and reach their goals. The process of moving toward a preferred future usually involves brainstorming, designing the action, and following through. Listed below is a summary of each steps a coach may utilize to facilitate client growth:

STEP 1: Brainstorm. Brainstorming helps people see the same things differently. It enables individuals to discover for themselves different perspectives and possibilities. It distinguishes between fact, perception, and interpretation, as well as gaining clarity and defining success. It helps people realize that there's more than one approach or pathway for moving ministry forward. Sometimes the most fruitful brainstorming sessions involve “question-storming” where time is spent brainstorming a list of questions that help leaders better understand the issues and problems related to a project before moving on to finding solutions, new pathways, and possible action steps. Question-storming ensures that the most pressing issues are addressed before locking in on a particular course of action.

STEP 2: Designing the Action. Within the context of brainstorming, a plan begins to emerge. The plan includes SMART steps that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and have target dates. The plan indicates who is doing what by when. Breaking the action steps into smaller steps can help leaders begin taking action. Common approaches to designing actions often include:
  • Acknowledging: Recognizing what has already been accomplished.
  • Backward planning: Begin at the end (the goal) and then move backward and develop steps to get to the goal.
  • Creating structure: Identifying what and who will keep the client focused on the task at hand.
  • Recognizing road blocks: Considering what might derail progress and design action steps in advance.
  • Anchoring: Regularly reminding the person or group of the importance of what they are doing and where they are in the plan.
  • Establishing Blitz Days: Helping them carve out solid blocks of time to tackle what needs to be done to stay on task.
  • Identifying daily actions: Helping clients list and act up create daily “wins.”

Sometimes formulas can be helpful. Consider the G.R.O.W. Model:
  • G: Goal (What's the goal?)
  • R: Current Reality (How are we doing?)
  • O: Opportunities (What are our current opportunities?)
  • W: What’s next (What's the next step?)

STEP 3: Follow Through. Coaching relationships foster continuous progress and course corrections. Coaches help guide people toward a preferred future and regularly ask questions that help people see where they’ve been, where they are now, and where they need to go next. Coaches ask clarifying questions during session similar to the ones below:
  • What's happened since the last time we met?
  • What didn't happen that you really intended to happen?
  • What got in the way? What were the challenges?
  • What will you report back to me the next time we meet, regarding this action?
  • What do you want to focus on today?

Accountability is about “goal-tending" and the process of reviewing and reflecting on results is a natural part of coaching relationship.

Tending to and Tracking the Coaching Relationship
The coaching relationship is often viewed as a dance where the coach follows the client’s lead and where coach anticipates and adjusts to the client’s needs and desires. Tending to the coaching relationship often shows up through:
  • Note-taking. The act of writing helps many go deeper. Jot down what you're noticing in the coaching session. Remember, deep listening uses the eyes as well as the ears. The challenge of note-taking is to take notes in such as way it enhances, rather than interferes with, your deep listening.
  • Self-care. It's hard to go deeper when you're barely managing life on the surface. Like they tell us on airplanes—place the mask on yourself first and then your children. Similarly, take care of yourself first before you attempt to assist others.
  • Review your coaching. Make a recording of a coaching session and then review it. Then take it one step further and ask your mentor-coach to review it and give you feedback, specifically about your coaching presence.
  • Quiet your mind. Intentionally quiet yourself before and after a coaching session. Show up with a clean frame of reference and a quiet mind. Then spend time reflecting after the session on what worked and what you might do differently the next time you coach.
  • Risk. Share your hunches, inklings, or gut feelings. Preface your hunch by saying something like "I'd like to go out on a skinny branch for a moment with you. I could be completely wrong, but here's what I'm wondering (or noticing) ... "
  • Listen from the heart versus the head (or vice versa). Be intentional in shifting from intellect to intuition. Request that the person you are coaching also get out of their head and listen from the heart. Ask them "What are you feeling in your body right now? What might your body be trying to tell you?"
  • Asking rather than assuming. Coaches frequently check-in with their clients to make sure that they’re addressing the issues and needs of the people they’re coaching, and that they’re fully aware of how well they’re meeting your client’s expectations.

Maintaining a positive coaching relationship will increase your client's likelihood of success. Since they relate well to you, they are more likely to explore further and take bigger steps, plus they will stick with their plan of action longer.

What does a TYPICAL coaching session look like?

Find ways to journey with your client
The easiest way to begin to understand the process of coaching is to envision or actually experience a coaching conversation. You’ll find that almost every coaching session will include a series of five sequential steps:

  1. What would you like to talk about? This question identifies the general theme or topic for conversation. It narrows the scope of what will be discussed during the session and reminds the client that they are in charge.
  2. What would you like to “take away” from today’s session? The goal is not just to have a great conversation, but also to have one that moves people forward in tangible ways. I refer to these as the “deliverables” that help reveal that coaching makes a difference.
  3. Are we still talking about what’s most important to you? It’s easy to get sidetracked and enter into conversations that have little or nothing to do with what the client originally wanted to talk about. Mindful that the client is in charge, coaches periodically check to see if they’re still addressing the client’s most important issues.
  4. What will you say or do this week to act on your intentions? Experienced coaches help clients take action within a certain time period. Without specific timelines, actions items turn into nice-sounding intentions.
  5. Who can support you or hold you accountable? Coaches build accountability into the process. They help clients envision who else might be a resource or source of wisdom.

To wrap up a coaching session, a coach may ask the client to share what was most helpful from the conversation or to summarize action items that come out of the conversation. If the coaching relationship is ongoing, a coach will confirm when the next session will be held.

Questions for Students

1 | What does walking alongside another person look like?
2 | Who is doing most of the work?
3 | How do you get below the surface?

Seven Frequently Used Coaching Strategies

Building on the five key questions to ask during a coaching conversation, consider sprinkling these statements when appropriate:
  1. Ask the leader to say more. A good place to begin is to simply invite the person to “say more” or suggest “what else could you . . .” These short yet powerful statements are effective tools when you’re not sure what to say next.
  2. Mirror back what you are hearing and observing. It is amazing how helpful the simple act of mirroring can be. For the client, it can be very beneficial to hear what they are saying and see how they are framing the conversation.
  3. Ask the client to rate a situation. Ask questions similar to these: "On a scale of 1-10, how important is this project to you right now?” In a similar vein, ask, “On a scale of 1-10, how passionate or invested are you in this project?” Ask follow-up questions such as, “How invested are your team members in this project?”
  4. Place the person in another role. Ask questions such as, “If you were the leader of this team, what would you do differently?” Or “If you were _____ how do you think you would have responded?"
  5. Invite the leader to describe the vision or BIG picture. When I coach individuals or organizations over an extended period of time, I often ask, “What do you hope to be celebrating by the time this coaching process is done?” I also ask, “What your dream for . . .” or “What do you want to be different by the end of the year or coaching process?" Most individuals and groups move too quickly in naming strategies and action steps without clarifying the WHY and the big WHATS. Coaches help clients name the WHAT, the SO WHAT, and the NOW WHAT in their coaching conversations.
  6. Ask about the plan. A vision is a visual image of a preferred future. For visions to be realized, they plan which also describes people’s personal contributions. Coaches help clients identify what the plan might look like, where it’s kept, how often it’s reviewed, and what’s the next step for acting on the plan.
  7. Ask about their support system. Who can help them with this? Who has done what they’re seeking to do? What resources will you need to pull together to make this happen? Who might serve as a dialogue partner or sounding board for you? These types of questions are needed if people are to move forward, faster.
Ideas for implementing these strategies

Chapter Recap | Student Assignments

Quick Review of intentions for this chapter
  • You will know ICF’s definition for coaching.
  • You’ll be able to articulate the difference between coaching, consulting, mentoring and counseling.
  • You’ll begin using the basic coaching agreement (the 5 questions) to guide coaching conversations.

Assignment (for Coaching School students)
1 | Memorize ICF’s definition of coaching (see below).
"Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

2 | Memorize the 5 questions that make up the basic coaching agreement (see below)
  • What would you like to talk about?
  • What would you like to take away from our session?
  • Are we still talking about what matters most to you?
  • What will you say or do (this week) to act on your intentions?
  • Who can support you in your next steps? Who will hold you accountable?

3 | Complete the sentence: “Three ways a client may benefit from coaching include . . .

4 | Reply to: “In what ways is a coach different than a dialogue partner?”

Ideas for implementing these strategies

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