Applying the fundamental coaching model

Alphabet BlocksCoaches I’m mentoring often ask me how to demonstrate the ICF Core Competency of Planning & Goal Setting in a coaching session. Well here’s how, and it’s simple!

When I’m listening to a coaching session as an ICF Assessor for ACC, PCC and MCC credential applications, I notice how often the coach neglects to find out what the client really wants to accomplish in a coaching session.

Many coaches are great at digging into where the client is now and what their topic is, yet miss asking questions that connect the client to where they want to be by the end of the session, and how this session relates to their overall coaching plan goals and outcomes (Planning & Goal Setting).

The fundamental, or basic coaching model is simply:

  • Where is the client now?
  • Where do they ideally want to be?
  • What are their options for closing the gap from where they are now to where they want to be?

All of coaching is about these three aspects.

There are three ICF Core Competencies in particular that are engaged with this coaching model:

Competency #1 – Ethics. If you are not applying the fundamental coaching process, then you’re likely not coaching, but instead are consulting, teaching, parenting or counseling.

Competency # 10 – Planning & Goal Setting. The ability to develop and maintain an effective coaching plan with the client is all about establishing where the client is and where they want to be for your overall coaching engagement. These are your client’s bigger picture goals, which the coach should always take time to discover at the beginning of the coaching engagement. Then the coach needs to be referencing them to make sure the coaching is serving the client’s purpose for hiring you.

Competency # 2 – Establishing the Coaching Agreement. Every coaching session is a smaller step in the bigger plan of what the client really wants to accomplish as a result of hiring you as their coach. During every coaching session, you want to know where the client is and where they want to be by the end of the session. This is the little picture within the bigger picture of their ultimate outcomes for the entire coaching engagement. I’ve created an “Establishing the Coaching Agreement” product bundle on this important competency.

The coach uses their “Coaching Presence” to know when and how to use their inquiry skills to move between the client’s bigger picture and little picture throughout a coaching session.

Here are examples of questions to ask in a coaching session to establish the clients desired outcome:

  • What do you want to have by the end of this session around this topic that you don’t have now?
  • What would you like to accomplish by the end of this session?
  • If you could have your ideal happen by the end of our session, what would it be?
  • If you think about your bigger goals, how does today’s focus support you move closer toward them?
  • How does this fit with your overall goals for our coaching engagement?

Ensure you are asking questions that keep the client’s bigger picture (goals/outcomes) front and center, so that each coaching session is a step closer toward meeting their goals.

By asking how today’s coaching session fits with their bigger goals for coaching, you are demonstrating that you are holding attention on what is important to the client. You are also giving the client a chance to reflect on their goals as well, and that may bring them awareness, which may lead to clarity around actions.

Are you preparing for your first or next ICF Credential?

Next Group Program commences February 2015.
Very limited availability!


Carly Anderson and Karen Boskemper offer an awesome mentor coaching group and individual program that has many exclusive offerings for our participants.

One of those offerings is an extensive library of MCC, PCC and ACC coaching sessions for our participants to listen to, evaluate, debrief, and learn from, along with The Target Approach to demystifying the ICF core competencies. These are incredibly valuable learning tools, and will accelerate your understanding of competency distinctions.

Here’s where you’ll find more about The Mentor Coaching Group

Carly and Karen also offer other mentoring options which you can find in the Store