A lot of professional coaches are in the middle of a shift. The International Coach Federation (ICF) has updated the Core Competencies; those pillars that indicate if you are professionally coaching, as opposed to consulting or counseling. There has been an additional competency added to the update. Welcome to CC2 Embodies a Coaching Mindset.

A mindset is a way that you think about situations. And, how you think about a situation will influence your reactions and responses to the situation. Mindset behaviors demonstrate your thinking. Let’s take a look at what this new competency might mean for you as a coach.

Embodies a Coaching Mindset

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

  1. Acknowledges that clients are responsible for their own choices
  2. Engages in ongoing learning and development as a coach
  3. Develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one’s coaching
  4. Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others
  5. Uses awareness of self and one’s intuition to benefit clients
  6. Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions
  7. Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions
  8. Seeks help from outside sources when necessary

Embodies a Coaching Mindset is a way of being, a mindset that drives behaviors that we develop as coaches, and it is also demonstratable. Let’s explore this a bit.​

Acknowledges that clients are responsible for their own choices.

When we acknowledge that clients are responsible for their choices, we are also saying, “You are whole, capable, resourceful, and creative. I trust you.” 

This mindset is demonstrated by how it informs our questions. “What is important to discuss today?” or “You have shared a lot of possibilities, what direction do you want us to explore?” Client-centered in the direction and purpose of every aspect of our conversations.

Engages in ongoing learning and development as a coach.

No matter what profession you point to, one consistent indicator of professionalism is ongoing learning and growth. There are many ways to develop confidence in your coaching. 

  • Read books
  • Participate in Mastermind Coaching groups
  • Take courses where you get to develop your skills
  • Get Coaching Supervision and/or Mentor Coaching

Develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one’s coaching.

One of the places where a coach can get stuck is the solitary nature of many of our practices. We often work with our clients alone and siloed away from other coaches. 

It is an easy slip into a comfort zone that may or may not demonstrate coaching. By developing reflective practices, we can keep ourselves honest. One of my favorites is to get transcripts of coaching calls. Reading the transcript allows me to explore what my client said, what I picked up on, and then what I asked that invited awareness. 

Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others.

None of us live in a bubble, and given the societal issues we are seeing exposed, it’s clear that not everyone has the same experience in the world. Being willing to listen to another person’s reality is crucial. I have heard people share this belief, “If you do what I do, you will get the outcome that I got.” It comes out, non-verbally, when coaches dive into the talk, tell, and advise mode. 

Staying conscious of the influences that may be playing a part in your clients’ experience comes from an openness to being taught by them. Allowing ourselves to be the learner in our clients’ internal landscape.

Uses awareness of self and one’s intuition to benefit clients.

All of us have insights and awareness that bubbles up as we have conversations. Learning to trust our intuition and share transparently, with our clients what we notice is a considerable portion of Coaching Presence—holding our insights and awareness lightly, as an open-handed offer is also important. 

I often hear coaches concerned with leading the client, rightly so, yet this can hinder them from sharing their intuitive hits. Finding the balance, where we can offer a perspective with zero attachment, to invite client awareness and benefit is key. Also, asking and giving the client permission to be at full choice with what they take, explore, and use.

Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions.

Regulating one’s emotions is the work of healthy human beings. And it supports building trust and safety in relationships. The space where we might be frustrated with the circle the client is walking in is a useful place to breathe through. Noticing our emotional shifts can help inform our questions. “I notice that this appears to be a familiar circle, what are you noticing?” 

Just as important are the places where the client’s focus parallels our own, and we get hooked. Getting hooked is an emotional response, and another spot to regulate our attachments.

Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions.

Mentally and emotionally prepared may mean different things to different people, as self-care often does. At the heart of this element of Coaching Mindset, I believe, is how we take care of ourselves. I think that we have an ethical responsibility to do the work that allows us to show up with our clients fully.  

Along with this is how we take care of our health, sleep, exercise, and our whole body impacts our experience. All these elements affect our capacity to regulate our emotional states, as well as our ability to listen deeply to what our clients are bringing forward to their sessions.

Seeks help from outside sources when necessary.

No one is an island. No one can hold the space for everything that another person may need. Knowing when you are stretching past your wheelhouse is a sign of emotional maturity. Seeking help is a sign of taking care of a client’s needs.

Using transparency and our ethical awareness to name concerns and to acknowledge our limits is imperative. Especially when our goal is to support our client’s success. 

What Are Your Thoughts on the New ICF Core Competency of Coaching Mindset?

Are you interested in playing with the competencies and building confidence in your coaching? I have mentor coaching programs starting several times a year. 


Lyssa deHart, LICSW, MCC, author of StoryJacking: Change Your Dialogue, Transform Your Life and the Reflective Coach, and the new book, Light Up: The Science of Coaching with Metaphors. Lyssa is a Confidence Coach, Certified Mentor Coach, Coaching Super-Vision Partner, ICF PCC Assessor, and coaching educator. Using her understanding of the ICF Core Competencies and her knowledge of Neuroscience, Lyssa works with Professional Coaches to expand the capacity to partner with their clients through how they show up and hold the space for those with whom they work.

Lyssa is the creator of the Power of Metaphor Certification Program. Giving coaches new ways to tune their ears to hear the powerful metaphors their clients bring forward and discovering how to leverage the important metaphors to create stronger agreements, build trust and safety, allow the client to lead, and ultimately evoke powerful embodied awareness.

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