coaching mindset

11 to 8 – ICF Core Competencies

Table of Contents

In autumn last year ICF (International Coach Federation) announced that starting early 2021 a revised competency model will go into effect and “will serve as stronger, more comprehensive coaching standards for the future”.

A couple of weeks ago CoachCompanion Romania organized a webinar facilitated by Maria Dofeldt and Julien Lefort for our alumni in which we shared our views about what does this change mean and how the 8 version compare with the current 11-competency model.

Here is what we observed:

The Being of the Coach

The updated model conveys the idea that to demonstrate ethical practice, coaches go beyond meeting ethical guidelines and professional standards.

They embody a coaching mindset.

This is a completely new competency which emphasizes the idea that besides tools and training, a good coach invests time and energy into their own personal development.

Embodies a Coaching Mindset



If you’re not good at “coaching yourself”, how can you be a good coach for your client?

Coaching is not an ability

The word ability is used 13 times in the 11 competencies and just once in the updated 8-competency model.

This supports what we agreed on in the webinar.

The Doing of Coaching’” is not a checklist of abilities or something you achieve. You are already there, and you just express it – it’s a way of being.

 What a coach does is to create, allow, facilitate, focus, simply be (present, grounded, sensitive), evoke, promote.

These are the words we noticed replace ability.

Plus, there’s an emphasis on consistency, continuity and intention through verbs such as maintains, cultivates and listens actively (vs. active listening).

This brought about a comforting realization:

Coaches should acknowledge what is going on, feel at ease and not pressured to bring about change.

Just as they trust the client’s autonomy and the fact that the client holds the key to finding what they’re looking for, coaches should also be patient with how the coaching process unfolds and trust the coaching mindset that they possess.

It’s all about partnering

By now we know the ICF definition of coaching means “partnering with the clients”.

Did you know that besides this instance, the word “partnering” is never used in the 11 competencies?

In the updated model you will see it used more often (precisely 14 times).

This partnering serves 3 purposes:

  • reinforces the idea that the client and the coach are equals

  • imprints accountability for the client

  • makes the coach mindful of boundaries they should not cross


Most changes have to do with the language, which in the 8-competency model is more inclusive and acceptant.

In 2 cases 3 such competencies were compressed into 1 competency.

Source: ICF Core Competency Updates Webinar Presentation, December 10, 2019,

This was a really popular change!

We loved that it simplifies the main idea, makes it concise and easier to understand.

Of course, the essence of what it means to be a professional coach according to ICF standards is the same.

Uncovering these interesting and subtle differences reinforces our commitment to doing a great job as coaches!

Share this post


This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.

Interested in coaching?

Sign up to our newsletter
and we'll be in touch