Creating Awareness at MCC Skill Level

Earlier this week, I presented a version of this information in one of the MCC Mentor Coaching Group Programs I’m leading, and thought it might be useful to share with you.

The distinctions are aimed toward MCC skill level, yet I’ve used the language of the PCC Markers as a way to show the inter-relationship between core competencies.

I’m honing in on the core competency of Creating Awareness because there are so many links to other core competencies.

In my Target Approach model of how the ICF Core Competencies actually work in ‘real life,’ I refer to Creating Awareness as an ‘output’ competency, because it is as a result of other core competencies that awareness has the potential to be created. You need to ask great questions, offer observations or intuitions for the client to consider.

You can’t support your client to create awareness by being silent all the time (although being silent for longer than the coach is comfortable may allow the client to go deeper into their self-knowledge to find their truth). Nor can you support your client to create awareness if you talk all the time.

Here are a few tips for MCC or mastery skill level for Creating Awareness.

Let’s take PCC Marker 3 which is, “Coach shares what s/he is noticing about the client and/or the client’s situation, and seeks the client’s input or exploration.”

Here’s are some examples that demonstrate Marker 3:

I notice you suddenly started to talk really fast as you spoke about that.

Listening to you describe your plan, I feel there is something missing for you as your tone of voice went down. Do you have any idea of that, or am I imagining something

So far I’ve heard you say you have self-doubt at least three times.

I notice that you often have what I sense is an uncomfortable laugh after you say something.

Share Observations….without attachment to being right

From my experience as a Mentor Coach for MCC credential application, sharing these types of observations about what is occurring with the client in the moment is often missing. And yet it is a skill that can often give the client the potential for new awareness to emerge.

The key is to “offer” your observation to the client, for their consideration or exploration.

This Marker also dovetails nicely with markers in other Core Competencies such as:

Coaching Presence, Marker 6Coach partners with the client by inviting the client to respond in any way to the coach’s contributions and accepts the client’s response.

Direct Communication, Markers 1 & 2Coach shares observations, intuitions, comments, thoughts and feelings to serve the client’s learning or forward movement. (Marker 2 is the same and adds, “without any attachment to them being right.”)

While asking excellent questions is our number one tool of trade as a coach, the client wants to hear what the coach thinks.

Instead of offering advice or your ideas, instead offer your observations and intuitions, without attachment, for the client to explore for themselves.

MCC Skill Level Characteristics

For MCC skill level demonstration, there is a flow to the conversation that comes from the Connection the coach maintains to their client, and Trust the coach has in their client. (Connection and Trust are two of the Ten Characteristics of MCC Skill Level).

If a coach just asks questions for the entire session, it can sound (and feel) interrogative.

If the coach just reflects back what they are hearing, there is little forward movement possible for the client.

A good recipe especially for the MCC or mastery level is for the coach to use a combination of mainly asking deeper questions that allow the client to dig deeper into their self-knowledge, as well as offering observations without attachment.

By doing so, you are satisfying at least four different core competencies – Coaching Presence, Powerful Questioning, Direct Communication, and Creating Awareness.

Shift your idea of your role as a coach

Instead of thinking of your role as being to help the client to solve their presenting issue, or get ‘unstuck,’ what if instead you viewed your client as having NOTHING for you to resolve?

What if you view your client as having no issues to resolve, only learning that comes from digging deeper in to their own self-knowledge, and then likely actions they generate out of that reflection?

How would that shift your coaching?

When I present this concept to my MCC mentoring clients, they are often gob smacked. They wonder, if I’m not listening for the issue and how to solve it, what value do I bring?

That is another blog article because often we are identified with being the problem-solver, which includes listening for opportunities to give our ideas or opinions or resources.

The value we bring is in our excellent questions, and observations, and ability to stay on the client agenda.


Expanded Learning (another of the Ten Characteristics of MCC Skill Level)

The idea of expanded learning is something I encourage my mentoring clients to be curious about. And again there is a marker in Creating Awareness that speaks to this:

Marker 4Coach invites client to consider how s/he will use new learning from the coaching.

Here’s an example:

How are you going to use what you’ve talked about to be more proactive in making this change?

I find this marker is often missing when I’m assessing for MCC skill level, being the ability for the coach to be curious beyond the presenting issue.

The concept of Expanded Learning is one that we MCC Assessors listen for because otherwise the coach is only listening to the presenting issue, and forgetting that the client has experiences in other places where they have successfully done something similar, or could apply what they are learning to another situation.

Coaching Presence, Marker 8 dovetails nicely with this concept of Expanded Learning:

Coach partners with the client by encouraging the client to formulate his or her own learning.

Once the client has some awareness emerge, how will they use that learning?

An example: How could you use what you’ve become aware of to support you in other aspects of your leadership?

In Closing…..

The ability to ask excellent questions, and offer non-judgmental comments is a hallmark of a great coach. Add in the ability to expand learning beyond the presenting situation and you allow your client the opportunity to really use you well as a coach. Awareness often naturally allows the client to come up with next steps and actions, something a master coach is also listening for.


Are you preparing for your first or next ICF Credential?

Do you want to “Sharpen the Saw” as a Coaching Professional?


Start early with your mentoring requirements in the year of your renewal, especially if you plan to submit for your next credential instead of renew your current one. You will need to submit your application by mid August in order to accommodate the 18 week ICF process.

The Mentor Coaching Group program is approved for 24 ICF Core Competency CCE units! (which includes 10 hours of mentor coaching)

You can learn more here


Carly Anderson will be ‘flying solo’ in 2017 as Karen Boskemper goes on to work on other projects. I will her miss her wisdom and support, and yet wish her all the best in her next endeavors.

We offer an awesome mentor coaching group and individual program that has many exclusive offerings for our participants. You can read some testimonials here

We have been trained by the ICF to assess using the new PCC Markers. Carly also assesses for the ICF MCC and ACC credential.

One of our unique 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.

Carly has created products to more deeply understand Establishing the Coaching Agreement and Ten Characteristics of MCC Skill Level.

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