COACHING SKILLS LIST
Here is as complete and comprehensive a list of our coaching skills as I can currently create, comprised of:
- The Co-Active Coaching glossary
- The 11 ICF Core Competencies
- The 9 IAC Core Masteries
- Thomas Leonard’s 15 Proficiencies
Scroll down and select to reveal the various definitions and their sources.
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Accountability is having your clients account for what they said they were going to do. It is determined by three questions: What are you going to do? By when will you do this? How will I know? Accountability does not include blame or judgment. Rather, the coach holds the client accountable to the client’s vision or commitment and asks the client to account for the results of the intended action. If need be, holding the client accountable includes defining new actions to be taken. – Co-Active Coaching
Acknowledgment addresses the Self and who the client had to be in order to accomplish whatever action he or she took or awareness he or she achieved. It is the articulation of your deep knowing of the other. “I want to acknowledge the courage it took for you to show up on this call, knowing that you had some difficult things to share with me today.” – Co-Active Coaching
Often referred to as either the “Big A” or “little A”. The Big “A” agenda is the meta-view, or how clients’ choices and actions relate to their big-picture agendas/ This is where clients learn more deeply about how they operate. At its core, the Big “A” agenda consists of the three principles of co-Active coaching: fulfillment, balance, and process. It assumes that clients want these three things: (1) to live fulfilling lives, (2) to be in balance about those lives, and (3) to be present in the process of life. The coach interacts with clients holding this Big “A” agenda at all times.
The little “a” agenda consists of the small picture, the circumstances in the client’s life, his or her agenda of the moment. This agenda is focused on a particular event, on the client’s choices around that event, or on the actions the client will take related to that specific event. – Co-Active Coaching
This skill involves telling clients what you see them doing: repeating or mirroring back to them what they have just said to you. “You are really working hard at this project and it is frustrating for you that your partners are not working as hard as you are.” – Co-Active Coaching
This skill enables the client to grant the coaching relationship access to unusually intimate or sometimes impolite areas of focus.
“Can I tell you the hard truth?”
“Is it all right to coach you on this issue?”
“Can I tell you what I see?” – Co-Active Coaching
This is the skill of brevity and succinctness on the part of both coach and client. Bottom -lining is also about having the client get to the essence of his or her communication rather than engaging in long descriptive stories. “I went to work this morning and was distraught when I found a pink slip in my box.” – Co-Active Coaching
Celebrating fully honors wherever the client currently experiences him- or herself in life. The coach uses this skill to deepen the client’s appreciation of his or her own successes and failures, disappointments and wins. Celebrating is not necessarily about cheering. It is about bringing attention and acknowledgment to the client’s process. “You failed to make ten cold calls this week. I celebrate your failure.” “Hooray! I celebrate your success of getting a new client.” – Co-Active Coaching, First Ed
Challenging involves requesting that a client stretch way beyond his or her self-imposed limits. Frequently, in the face of a challenge, clients will respond with a counteroffer that is greater than they initially would have allowed themselves to make otherwise.
A client needs to make cold calls to increase his business. He thinks he can make only one call a day. You challenge him. “I challenge you to make ten calls a day!”
The client counteroffers with, “I’ll make seven.“ – Co-Active Coaching
Perceiving, affirming and expanding the client’s potential– IAC Masteries
Recognizes and help the client acknowledge and appreciate his or her strengths and potential.
The client has greater appreciation of personal capabilities and potential.
The client is more willing to take actions beyond current paradigms or strategies.
Being in empathy with the client.
Recognizing a wider range of possibilities.
Encouraging and empowering the client.
Challenging limiting beliefs.
Recognizing strengths of client and awareness of where strengths support personal and organizational goals (where appropriate).
When you champion your clients, you stand up for them when they doubt or question their abilities. Despite the client’s self-doubt, the coach knows clearly who the client is and that he or she is capable of much more than the client thinks. When the client is in the valley, the coach is on the next hill, waving a flag and saying, “come on, you can make it!“ – Co-Active Coaching
Champions the client. – TL 15 Proficiencies
The more often, and deeply, the coach champions their client at all levels (including their actions, progress, dreams, traits, commitments, gifts and qualities), the more encouraged the client feels and the more likely they are to succeed. For the coach to merely be encouraging is not enough; there is a much higher level of support generated when the coach operates at the championing level, which is where the Certified Coach operates.
Be excited about their actions/progress.
2. Point to underlying shifts/growth.
3. Be awed by their willingness.
The key distinction is championing vs. cheerleading.
Reduce/eliminate confusion or uncertainty; increase understanding and the confidence of the client.
The client and the coach move forward in a more directed way.
Uncovering the unknown.
Identify the most important issue while respecting client’s preferences and limitations.
No judgment by the coach, no leading toward a particular destination.
Identify key values and needs.
Facilitate alignment of purpose, vision and mission.
Identify blocks to progress.
When a client is unable to articulate clearly what he or she wants or where he or she is going, the coach clarifies the client’s experience. Clarification may be used in response to the client’s vague sense of what it is that he or she wants, confusion, or uncertainly. This skill represents a synergistic application of questioning, reframing, and articulating what is going on. It is particularly useful during the intake process. – Co-Active Coaching
Clearing is a skill that is of benefit to both the client and the coach. When a client is preoccupied with a situation or a mental state that interferes with his or her ability to be present or take action, the coach assists the client by being an active listener while he or she vents or complains. This active listening allows the client to temporarily clear the situation out of the way and focus on taking the next step.
When a coach gets hooked by a client interaction or is preoccupied with issues that do not pertain to the client, the coach can clear. The coach clears by sharing his or her experience or preoccupation with a colleague or a friend in order to show up and be fully present with the client. – Co-Active Coaching
This should be obvious, yes? After all, the cleaner the communication, the less that gets in the way of great coaching. That said, most of us have ‘stuff’ in our communication style, which slows down the super-conductive nature of the coaching process. Certified Coaches have worked to clean up the stuff that can get in the way of effective coaching. What kind of stuff? Everything from biases, judgments, unmet needs, shoulds, coulds, to singularity, vicariousness, agendas, arrogance and fears. It can all be cleaned.
Transcend your reactions/smallness.
2. Share your biases/limits.
3. Be responsible for how you are heard, not just what you say.
The key distinction is absence of vs. unnecessary additives.
– TL 15 Proficiencies
All information that a client shares with a coach is held as confidential. This means that all information that a client confides in the coach is not shared with anyone else without the client’s expressed permission. Confidentiality, the hallmark of the coaching profession, creates safety and trust and is the basis of the powerful designed alliance between client and coach. – Co-Active Coaching, first Ed.
Navigates via curiosity. – TL 15 Proficiencies
The coach who is naturally curious can be well guided by that curiosity. After all, coaches are in the discovery business and how can you help the client find new and better ways of doing things, if you are not curious? And the real benefit of curiosity is that it leads to learning for both the coach and client.
Be curious about situations.
2. Be curious about dynamics.
3. Be curious about the facts.
The key distinction is curiosity vs. information gathering.
Dancing in the Moment means being completely present with your client, holding your client’s agenda, accessing your intuition, letting your client lead you. When you dance in the moment, you are open to whatever steps your client takes and are willing to go in the client’s direction and flow. – Co-Active Coaching
When the client grants power to the alliance, it then becomes necessary for the client to take responsibility for his or her part in the alliance. Out of their ownership of the alliance, clients design the alliance that will be most beneficial to and supportive of forwarding their actions toward their goals and vision. The is done through making requests of the coach, setting up the logistics of the coaching relationship, and discussing the best ways to facilitate client learning and action. – Co-Active Coaching
Who else is trained to be proficient in this, 24/7/365, but the Certified Coach? And, while it is true that few clients come to a coach and specifically ask that we bring out and develop this greatness, this is what we do naturally when we ask the client to think and act bigger, and by challenging the client to continually raise their own bar and standards.
Ask for higher standards.
2. Ask for “absence of” something.
3. Ask for a much bigger game.
The key distinction is greatness vs. success.
– TL 15 Proficiencies
Coaching sessions are generally short. By hearing what the client is saying and not saying, by questioning what you hear, by asking the right questions, pressing for clarity, and by sharing what you know and how you feel, provocative conversations can occur within minutes, not months. Welcome to the world of the Certified Coach.
Listen for the unsaid.
2. Ask the “duh/obvious” question
3. Question what does not resonate.
The key distinction is provocative conversation vs. nice chat.
– TL 15 Proficiencies
How is ‘enjoying the client’ a proficiency? Simple. Because when you enjoy the client in their entirety (including their upsides and downsides), high levels of trust naturally occur. And the benefit of that? Clients naturally take more risks and move forward more quickly because they know you are totally there for them. When the coach is at this place with a client, the coaching is collaborative and light, not heavy.
Enjoy their strengths and qualities.
2. Enjoy their faults and foibles.
3. Enjoy their missed opportunities.
The key distinction is enjoy vs. accept.
– TL 15 Proficiencies
The Certified Coach expands the client’s thinking by weaving in new concepts, principles and distinctions during the coaching session, and also by inviting the client to experiment with new models, ways of doing things, and even to identify new goals or outcomes. Clients don’t usually ask the coach for this, but these are key ways that value is created for the client.
Broach topics that client didn’t retain you for.
2. Share ideas/distinctions that will expand the client.
The key distinction is broaching vs. reacting.
– TL 15 Proficiencies
To call forth or up a complete or major change in someone’s or something’s appearance, form, etc. Merriam Webster
“The nature of life is to transform and evolve. The coach’s job is ti call forth the greatest possibility for the client. When evoking transformation, the coach fiercely and courageously takes a stand for the client to step more boldly into his or her most powerful self. This can occur when the coach asks the client either to take a courageous, possibly scary step towards something the client wants in his life, or challenges the client to move beyond resistance or fear to face something fully” – CTI
One of the reasons clients hire a coach is to support them to do more in a shorter period of time than they would do on their own. Hence, the Certified Coach acts as both a catalyst and accelerant. By supporting the client to do more than they have done or think that they are capable of doing, significant value is added.
Congratulate, then ask for 2/10x more.
2. Expand their envelope/reality/thinking.
3. Point out the next level/place to operate from.
The key distinction is expansion vs. pushing.
– TL 15 Proficiencies
– IAC Masteries
Attention and awareness to how the coach communicates commitment, direction, intent, and ideas – and the effectiveness of this communication.
The coaching interaction is enhanced with the client being at ease and trusting.
The client is open to understanding and/or questioning any communication from the coach.
Failure is the lack of achievement of a goal or activity to which one committed oneself. Failure is often confused with being wrong, morally shameful, or bad. To fail merely means that you did not succeed at which you set out to do. It is an opportunity for reflection and correction which can then forward the action toward success. – Co-Active Coaching, first ed
A goal is an outcome that the client would like to achieve. Goals are most helpful when they are measurable, specific, are owned by the client, have a date by which they will be accomplished, are made public (in order to achieve support and accountability), and constitute a reasonable stretch for the client. – Co-Active Coaching
The coaching relationship is separate from the client and the coach. Since the power of coaching resides in the relationship between coach and client, not with either of the two individuals, both coach and client take responsibility for creating the coaching relationship that will most fully serve the client, thereby granting power to the relationship. – Co-Active Coaching
Helps the client become or remain focused and working towards intended goals.
The client feels capable.
The client is clear about what he or she wants to accomplish or transform.
The client is inspired by the possibilities.
The client moves forward purposefully.
Inquiring into the client’s intentions and goals.
Time spent on what is most important.
Clarifying direction of progress.
Periodically reviewing, revising and/or celebrating the process and intentions.
Holding the client’s agenda is both a philosophical stance and a cornerstone of the co-active coaching model. When coaches hold the client’s agenda, they let go of their own opinions, judgments, and answers in support of facilitating the client’s fulfillments, balance, and process. Coaches follow the client’s lead without knowing the right answer, giving solutions, or telling the client what to do. Holding the client’s agenda requires coaches to put their whole attention on the client and the client’s agenda, not on their own agenda.– Co-Active Coaching
Once the client has determined a direction or course of action, the coach’s job is to keep the client on track and true to that course. Frequently, clients become distracted by events in their lives, strong feelings elicited by the Saboteur, or the wealth of other possibilities available. The coach consistently reminds the client of his or her focus and helps redirect his or her energy back to the client’s desired outcomes and life choices. – Co-Active Coaching
“What are you tolerating?” “What is it to be undauntable?” “What is challenge?” – Co-Active Coaching
– TL 15 Proficiencies
Depending on the day, hour or even minute, what is most important to the client will change. Such is the nature of individuals in a high-growth phase of their lives. The Certified Coach is both quick to recognize this moving target and is flexible enough to adjust the coaching to be effective in this new terrain.
Ask the client what is most important, not just most urgent.
2. Focus on the shifts called for, not just the urgent business.
3. Continually get updated by what the client says is most important.
The key distinction is present moment vs. recent priority.
On occasion, the coach may need to intrude, to interrupt or wake up clients who are going on and on or who are kidding themselves. The coach does this for the sake of the client’s agenda, often pointing the client in a specific direction:
“Stop a moment. What’s at the heart of this?”
Intrusion is considered rude in some cultures. In Co-Active training, however, intrusion is viewed as being direct with the client, allowing the client to honestly assess and immediately deal with the situation. Sometimes the intrusion is a hard truth, such as “You are kidding yourself.” Or the intrusion could simply be a statement about what is going on, such as “You’re skirting the issue.” – Co-Active Coaching
Direct knowing, unencumbered by one’s own thinking mind. The process if intuiting is nonlinear and non-rational. Sometimes, the information received through intuiting does not make sense to the coach. However, this information is usually quite valuable to the client. Intuiting involves taking risks and trusting your gut. – Co-Active Coaching
– IAC Masteries
Creating an environment that allows ideas, options and opportunities to emerge.
The coach enables expansion of thoughts and actions.
The client’s awareness is expanded.
The coach helps client transcend barriers.
The client is willing to leave his/her comfort zone.
The client has more options.
Trust, openness, curiosity, courage, and recognition of potential.
The coach and the client communicate through exploration and discovery.
Identify “internal” possibilities (e.g., personal greatness, higher purpose) and “external” possibilities (e.g., resources, memes).
Possibilities are generated by the coach, the client or a collaboration of the two.
Life balance is dynamic and is always in motion. The client is either moving toward balance in his or her own life or away from balance. The job of the coach is to facilitate moving toward life balance as much as possible. The areas to be balanced in life generally include career, money, relationships with family and friends, romance, personal growth, fun and recreation, health, and physical surroundings. If one or more areas are receiving attention at the expense of others, life will feel unbalanced and bumpy. – Co-Active Coaching, first ed
Life propose is about why you are here on the planet. Who is it that you are moved to be and what is it that you are moved to create? It is an essence statement that serves as a reminder of who you are and the impact you naturally create in the world. When you are living your purpose, life is experienced as fulfilling, effortless, and satisfying. When you are disregarding your life purpose, life often feels empty, anguished and unfulfilling. – Co-Active Coaching, First ed
(levels 1, 2 & 3) – The coach listens for client’s vision, values, commitment, and purpose in their words and demeanor. To listen for is to listen in search of something. The coach listens with a consciousness, with a purpose and focus that comes from the alliance that was designed with the client. The coach is listening for the client’s agenda, not the coach’s agenda for the client.
In Level 1 the listening is internal. We hear the words of the other person, but the focus is on what it means to us. In a coaching relationship the client is at Level 1, looking inside.
Level 2 is focused listening. The attention is laser-focused over there: on the other person.
Level 3 is a global range of listening: hearing that picks up emotion, body language, and the environment itself. – Co-Active Coaching
Engaged listening – IAC Masteries
Give full attention to the words, nuances, and the unspoken meaning of the client’s communication; the coach is more deeply aware of the client, his/her concerns and the source of the issue, by listening beyond what the client is able to articulate.
The client feels understood and validated – not judged.
The client communicates more effortlessly and resourcefully.
The coach focuses on what the client expresses, both verbally and nonverbally.
The coach listens beyond what the client articulates.
The coach is alert to discrepancies between what the client is saying (words) and the client’s behavior and/or emotions.
One way to help clients see a situation from a fresh perspective is to help them distinguish between two or moiré concepts, facts, or ideas. For example, the client may have blended two facts together into one disempowering belief. The belief appears to be a fact of life, but it’s not. “Since I failed, I am a failure.” (Equating failing with failure) – Co-Active Coaching
Metaphors are used to illustrate a point and paint a verbal picture for the client. “Your mind is like a ping pong ball bouncing between one choice and the other.” “You’re almost at the finish line. Go for it! You can win the race!” – Co-Active Coaching
The Meta-view is the big picture or expanded perspective. The coach pulls back (or asks clients to pull back) from client’ immediate issues and reflects back to clients what he or she sees through the clarity of the expanded perspective. “If your life were like a road, and we were to take a helicopter ride up above it, what would we see?” – Co-Active Coaching
Client’s have the answers or they can find the answers. From the coach’s point of view, nothing is wrong or broken, there is no need to fix the client. The coach does not have the answers, the coach has questions. Sometimes clients don’t think they have the answers; sometimes they’d rather believe someone else—an expert—has the answers for them. – Co-Active Coaching
Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:
Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve
Encourage client self-discovery
Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies
Hold the client responsible and accountable – ICF
– Perspective is one of the gifts that the coach brings to the coaching relationship—not the “right” perspective, but simply other points of view. Part of coaching is inviting clients to see their lives or certain issues from different angles. When clients see things from only one perspective, they are less resourceful and may be victimized by their circumstances. When they are able to reexamine their viewpoints, look at their lives or certain issues from different angles, they are able to see possibility and change. – Co-Active Coaching
The coach helps clients articulate the direction they wish to take and actively monitors their progress. Client’s frequently benefit from support in planning and time management as the coach helps them develop their skills in these areas. – Co-Active Coaching
Focus full attention on the client, processing information at the level of the mind, body, heart and/or spirit, as appropriate. The coach expands the client’s awareness of how to experience thoughts and issues on these various levels, when and as appropriate. The coach utilizes what is happening in the session itself (client’s behavior, patterns, emotions, and the relationship between coach and client, etc.) to assist the client toward greater self-awareness and positive, appropriate action.
The client is free to express and engage with present reality.
The client is unencumbered by past or future preoccupations or concerns.
The client benefits from coaching insight and support on all levels.
The coach is highly attuned to subtle communications from the client.
The coach is aware of the dynamics occurring within the session, within the client, and between coach and client, and understands how the dynamics are affecting the client and the coaching.
The coach has a simultaneous and holistic awareness of the client’s communications at all levels.
The coach is able to discern whether the client is communicating from the past, present or future.
The coach allows the client the opportunity to process and clarify the coach’s questions and comments.
The coach allows the client the opportunity to process his or her own thoughts and responses.
Transcend your own bias against the word “perfect.”
2. Identify the Greater Truth of the situation; perfection is in there.
3 Ask the client to find the perfection and/or share the perfection that you see
The key distinction is responding vs. reacting.Sample Content
Thomas Leonard 15 Proficiencies
Come to enjoy/relish truth about the client’s abilities and limitations.
2. Teach the client how to relish the truth for the pleasure, not just the utility, of it.
3. Be open to truths about your coaching style/paradigm.
The key distinction is relishing truth vs. expecting honesty.
Thomas Leonard 15 Proficiencies
The key distinction is respect vs. patience.
Respect the client’s RAM limitations.
2. Respect the client’s style/approach.
3. Respect the client’s wishes.
The key distinction is respect vs. accept.
– Thomas Leonard 15 Proficiencies
Point to their unseen gifts/secret aspirations.
2. Help them see their way of thinking/paradigm.
3. Help to identify their sources of motivation/energy.
The key distinction is awareness vs. information.
– Thomas Leonard 15 Proficiencies
2. Share observations.
3. Share what you are hesitant to share.
The key distinction is inkling vs. evidence.
– Thomas Leonard 15 Proficiencies
Designs supportive environments. – TL 15 Proficiencies
Success, not to mention personal evolution, becomes sustainable when there are environments and failsafe structures that support it. After all, who wants to rely on fortitude and willpower to get things done or to develop oneself? Enter the Certified Coach who has been specifically trained in helping the client to design and install these environments.
Design environments that automatically support.
2. Design stimulating environments that evolve.
3. Repair environments that weaken.
The key distinction is environments vs. self-reliance.
Helping the client create and use supportive systems and structures – IAC Masteries
Helping the client identify and build the relationships, tools, systems and structures he or she needs to advance and sustain progress.
The client is confident and secure in moving forward, knowing that resources are available or can be created.
The coach suggests possible support systems and structures appropriate to the client’s needs.
The coach prompts the client to identify support systems and structures the client has but is not utilizing effectively.
The coach assists the client to identify areas in which the client feels a need for support and structure.
The client understands the value of appropriate support systems.
The client’s progress toward their goals or intentions is more sustainable.
Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust – IAC Masteries
Ensure a safe space and supportive relationship for personal growth, discovery and transformation.
The client is open to sharing and receiving.
The client perceives the coach as a personal advocate.
The client sees transformation and growth as manageable.
The client has realistic expectations of results and responsibilities of coaching.
Mutual respect and acceptance.
Confidence and reassurance.
The client feels safe to share fears without judgment from the coach.
If it looks like a particular coaching skill is missing and you think it should be a part of this list, then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to pop it in (if appropriate).
*(NOTE: every school and training organization has their own particular vocabulary and jargon. So you may see your skill listed and described differently. That’s ok, too. Please send me your vocabulary and source and I’ll be happy to adjust as necessary)