How to demonstrate more ICF core competencies by having a Coaching Plan

Planning and Goal SettingThere’s an easy way for a coach to demonstrate more competencies in their coaching, which is by having a Coaching Plan for your coaching engagement.

My Definition of a Coaching Plan

A Coaching Plan does not have to be some extensive document. It could be a simple intake questionnaire you conduct with your client.

I have clients where our Coaching Plan is defined by specific outcomes and how they might measure progress toward those outcomes.

Other clients have a more general direction such as improving leadership skills. Each coaching session is ‘unpacking’ what that means to them.

The point is that you have had a conversation with your client about what they want to move toward, and their desired outcomes are documented in some way, which I call a Coaching Plan.

It’s important that the coach doesn’t use that document as if it was then the absolute truth, because your client is changing in between coaching sessions. Make your Coaching Plan a living document that can be changed as your client changes.

The Coaching Plan is in the background and can be referred to, but in each coaching session you are responding to what the client brings.

Common Mistakes Coaches Make

When coaches record sessions for the ICF credential process, they often make the mistake of finding someone they know, even a coach, to do a once-off coaching session with them. This is not in your best interest for the following reasons:

  1. If your client is a fellow coach, they often coach themselves because they have been through coach training. It’s often harder to discern the coach’s skills.
  1. If your client is a friend, they may want to help you and they say things that they think will help such as, “Wow, without you I would NEVER have figured that out!” The client is so effusive as to sound contrived, which may have a detrimental impact on the way us ICF Assessors score your recording.
  1. When a coach submits a once-off coaching session with a client, you haven’t built enough safety and/or trust with the client to know their patterns of thinking or behaving. And you may not feel comfortable bringing these patterns to your client’s attention at this early stage in your coaching relationship.
  1. If you are doing a first or once-off coaching session, you are likely to be in ‘performance mode,’ or even in teaching or educating mode. You might need to educate the client on what coaching is, for example, or you might want to ‘prove’ to the client that you know what you are doing, so you take charge. This affects your “Coaching Presence.” Given you are already recording sessions for a credentialing process you might already be wanting to prove yourself, or prove that coaching is worthwhile (if it’s the first time the client has had a coach). So using a first or once-off session is not setting yourself up for a ‘win.’

Have a Coaching Plan!

Especially if you are seeking the MCC credential, it is in your best interest to have a Coaching Plan with your clients. Just as you would have with your regular coaching clients, make sure you go through some sort of process to establish your client goals/outcomes for your coaching engagement. This means you will be agreeing to provide multiple coaching sessions to them, maybe in exchange for being able to record the sessions and possibly submit for your ICF credential.

In The Mentor Coaching Group that Karen Boskemper and I co-lead (the next one commences February 3), we provide templates to use with clients for this process. As part of our individual mentoring sessions, which is part of our group format, we do not accept a first coaching session with a client to use as our mentoring focus.

We have a library of over 25 recorded coaching sessions of MCC, PCC and ACC skill level for our clients to listen to and evaluate. We model the process we recommend to our mentoring clients, and provide examples of first sessions to listen to, versus third or fourth sessions with the same client. You can hear the trust building between coach and client, thereby demonstrating the following competencies at a deeper level:

#10: Planning & Goal Setting

During a coaching session, you can now ask questions that relate to their goals or desired outcomes. For example, where does the focus for this session fit with their overall goals for your coaching engagement? Have their goals changed since starting your coaching engagement? If so, then let the client adapt them to meet where they are at now.

#6: Powerful Questioning

You expand the types of questions you can ask your client to include bigger picture or future oriented questions that help them connect to what they really want. You can ask questions when the client seems to be contradicting something they say. For example, “You say you want more freedom in your life, and you have stated in your Coaching Plan that you want to find a job that offers you security and fulfilment. How do you connect the two?” “Has something changed for you in what you now want?”

#11: Managing Progress and Accountability

When you have ongoing sessions with your coaching client, you naturally begin the coaching session by checking in on success of actions taken since last coaching session.

#4: Coaching Presence

With a Coaching Plan, you are able to be present to more of what the client wants from your coaching relationship. You have more perspectives of the client that you can draw on; their future desires, as well as how that relates to this session.

So…in short….

….without a Coaching Plan, and ongoing sessions with your client, you are making it more difficult to naturally demonstrate more of the ICF core competencies.

Are you preparing for your first or next ICF Credential?

The next Group Program commences February 2015.

Open to all credential levels.
Limited spaces remain! Registration closes January 26.


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