What’s New About the ICF PCC Markers?







Written by Karen Boskemper, PCC

On June 18, 2014 the ICF announced an advanced assessment system for the evaluation of Professional Certified Coach (PCC) candidates. The new marker system was developed by a design team of four core team members over 2.5 years with input from other global members of the ICF Credentialing Training Team.

Carly and I had the honor of being selected to participate in Cohort 1 of the new training, which included in-person training in Atlanta on June 27 and 28 with twenty other experienced coaches from North and South America.

Prior to the face-to-face training in Atlanta, we examined the impact of biases, assumptions and mindsets on the decisions and conclusions we make, and how our own view of “what coaching is” can positively or negatively impact our objective listening for the markers.

An ICF review of score sheets revealed that biases have played an impactful role in the evaluation of applicants and created inconsistent results in the past. The new marker system however, creates a masterful objective listening platform.

From Evaluator to Observer

A key component of the training in Atlanta was shifting from the role of “evaluator” to the role of “observer”. The new markers are specific indicators that an assessor will listen for in a recording to determine which ICF Core Competency the coach demonstrates.

What’s also new is that Assessors themselves will no longer be scoring coaching sessions. This function will be completed by staff at ICF who will determine whether a candidate has passed or not based on the number of markers marked. For Assessors, the strong shift from evaluator to impartial observer/data collector has already proven to provide very consistent results in the pilot group.

Example: Core Competency – Creating Awareness

The actual Core Competencies are not changing, and the content being assessed remains the same. What the markers provide is an observable, measurable, and consistent way of listening for (note, not evaluating!) specific coaching skills and behaviors. We are listening for the presence and absence of the markers when listening to a coaching session, not relying on our own definitions of PCC level coaching. The new marker system ensures that Assessors are evaluating the behaviors of the coach, not the client’s response to the coach

Marker #5: Coach’s questions, intuitions and observations have the potential to create new learning for the client.

As an Assessor we are listening for the demonstration of this coaching behavior. If the coach demonstrates it, even though the question, intuition, or observation does not result in new learning for the client, the marker is marked. What’s being discerned is the potential of the coach’s contribution to create new learning, not the actual result of the client.


There are two disqualifiers in the new marker system:

1) If the coach demonstrates a clear breach of ethics as determined by the ICF Code of Ethics

2) If the coach demonstrates a consistent confusion about the role of the coach versus another role (i.e. consulting, training, advising, directing).

These disqualifiers are not meant to disqualify the coach who only occasionally offers advice or teaches or misses a more subtle ethical issue.

An impressive body of work has been created!

Overall we are extremely impressed with the body of work the ICF has created around these markers, the commitment to standards and excellence by everybody on the design team, and we feel honored for being selected to participate in this first group of Assessors.

As the ICF Assessor training continues in the next few months, Carly and I are looking forward to deepen our understanding of the markers and sharpen our observation/data collection skills. We also look forward to continuing supporting coaches worldwide in upgrading their own coaching skills and helping raise the professionalism of coaching through core competency development.


Registration for our last 3 month Mentor Coaching Group of 2014 is now open.

Commencing September 9 from noon-1.30pm Eastern/NY time. Registration is limited to 7 people on a first come, first served basis.


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

2 thoughts on “What’s New About the ICF PCC Markers?

  1. Karen
    Really helpful notes and insights on these PCC markers. The markers really make the PCC stand alone and not just be interpreted as a ‘between point’ between ACC and MCC competence.
    Keep up the good work!


    Cameron Gott

    1. Hi Cameron:

      Thanks for your feedback. I agree, the PCC behavioral markers really gives us concrete coaching skills to develop that are observable, measurable, and distinct from ACC and MCC.

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