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What Makes A Good Life Coach?

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October 29, 2021
Podcast
The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode, we explore what it takes to achieve coaching mastery. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!

How to Achieve Coaching Mastery

As you've undoubtedly discovered, the topic of "How to Be a Great Life Coach" is incredibly subjective! In our view, better questions to ask might be “How can I be an effective coach?” or “What do I need to explore in order to achieve coaching mastery?”

The good news is that we have a framework for answering those questions!

Life coaching is a scientific discipline, governed by a globally recognized body. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has developed a set of standards that govern the field of coaching, which is a great reference against which to measure our progress and effectiveness as coaches.

To develop and refine your skills as a coach, we recommend using the ICF’s Core Competencies as your guide. In this episode, we’re taking a closer look at seven standards that we believe are particularly relevant to the topic of how coaches can continuously work toward higher levels of coaching mastery. 

1. Demonstrates Ethical Practice

Coaching clients need to know they can place their trust in you. Ethical practice invites us as coaches to release the ego, and turn our dial instead toward being a conduit for someone else’s growth. 

One phenomenon we’ve observed in the coaching space is that practitioners who haven’t gone through a certification program such as JRNI's Life Coach Training may be unaware of the standards of ethical practice, including the legal parameters and privacy laws that govern our work as coaches. 

The behavior markers for this standard include:

  • Demonstrates personal integrity and honesty in interactions with clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders.
  • Is sensitive to clients’ identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs.
  • Uses language appropriate and respectful to clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders.
  • Maintains confidentiality with client information per stakeholder agreements and pertinent laws.

2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset

According to the ICF, a coaching mindset is one where we are open, curious, flexible and client-centered. This standard embraces intersectionality, and challenges us as coaches to see the world through our client’s eyes. It also encourages us to take care of ourselves so that we can in turn show up in full presence for our coaching clients.

The behavior markers for this standard include:

  • Acknowledges that clients are responsible for their own choices.
  • Engages in ongoing learning and development as a coach.
  • Develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one’s coaching.
  • Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others.
  • Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions.
  • Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions.
  • Seeks help from outside sources when necessary.

3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements 

In brief, this standard is all doing what you say you will do! 

The behavior markers for this standard include:

  • Understands and effectively discusses with the client the guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching relationship (e.g., logistics, fees, scheduling, inclusion of others if appropriate).
  • Reaches agreement about what is appropriate in the relationship and what is not, what is and is not being offered, and about the client’s and coach’s responsibilities.
  • Determines whether there is an effective match between his/her coaching method and the needs of the prospective client.

4. Cultivates Trust and Safety

Great coaching extends well beyond coaching models, questioning techniques and goal attainment strategies. At its core, the coaching process isn’t so much about the tools you use. The catalyst for lasting change comes from inside the coaching relationship itself. To cultivate safe space for our clients, we seek to understand the client within their context, which may include their identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs.

The behavioral markers for this standard include:

  • Shows genuine concern for the client’s welfare and future.
  • Continuously demonstrates personal integrity, honesty and sincerity.
  • Establishes clear agreements and keeps promises.
  • Demonstrates respect for client’s perceptions, learning style and personal being.
  • Provides ongoing support for and champions new behaviors and actions, including those involving risk-taking and fear of failure.
  • Asks permission to coach the client in sensitive, new areas.

5.  Maintains Presence

What we strive for within this standard is to be fully conscious with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident. This takes WORK and PRACTICE!

The behavioral markers for this standard include:

  • Is present and flexible during the coaching process, dancing in the moment.
  • Accesses own intuition and trusts one’s inner knowing—”goes with the gut.”
  • Is open to not knowing and takes risks.
  • Sees many ways to work with the client and chooses in the moment what is most effective.
  • Uses humor effectively to create lightness and energy.
  • Confidently shifts perspectives and experiments with new possibilities for own action.
  • Demonstrates confidence in working with strong emotions and can self-manage and not be overpowered or enmeshed by client’s emotions.

6. Listen Actively

As a professional coach, an overarching expectation is that you’ll keep your own judgment, solutions, emotional responses, and new ideas at bay so that your clients can “walk around” and explore themselves within the space you are holding. Throughout the process, you also act as a mirror, reflecting back what the client is expressing (both verbally and nonverbally) in order to help them achieve insight and clarity.

The behavioral markers for this standard include:

  • Attends to the client and the client’s agenda and not to the coach’s agenda for the client.
  • Hears the client’s concerns, goals, values and beliefs about what is and is not possible.
  • Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language.
  • Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
  • Encourages, accepts, explores and reinforces the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, suggestions, etc.
  • Integrates and builds on client’s ideas and suggestions.
  • “Bottom-lines” or understands the essence of the client’s communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories.
  • Allows the client to vent or “clear” the situation without judgment or attachment in order to move on to next steps.

7. Evokes Awareness 

This standard points to our ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information, and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results.

The outcomes of working through all these best practices is that we’re cultivating learning for both ourselves and our clients. In so doing, we can:

  • Integrate new awareness, insight or learning into their worldview and behaviors.
  • Design goals, actions and accountability measures that integrate and expand new learning.
  • Consider how to move forward, including resources, support and potential barriers.
  • Celebrate progress and successes!

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

JRNI Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

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