The third ebook in the Really Competent Coach series is now available for download! More help on the ICF Competencies!!
This little writing project has taught me so much already. In particular, it has helped me become a better coach by aligning my work even more closely with the ICF Coach Core Competencies.
You could say I’ve upped my game (which is cool, because I wasn’t expecting that).
I hope these books will help you up your game too! Here is a link to download any (or all) of the ebooks: The Really Competent Coach
And as an added little bonus, here is an excerpt from the first ebook:
The Really Competent Coach – Understanding the ICF Core Coach Competencies Framework
The Purpose of Competencies – Why They Matter to You and Your Clients
Coaching is a rapidly growing field. We coaches are drawn to the work for so many diverse reasons.
Some see it as an ideal addition to an already thriving practice in counselling, law, medicine, consulting or another related field. Others see coaching as a perfect next career as they transition to a subsequent life phase. Still others enter the field to provide one-on-one development for employees inside a large organization.
Since the field is, at this writing, unregulated, virtually anyone can add coaching to his or her repertoire. Armed with a system or model for assisting individuals and groups to develop in some way, coaches do their work. It is often really good work. This is, in fact, how coaching emerged initially. It’s how any field evolves. A need is identified, people develop strategies for meeting the need, fine-tune the strategies, track their successes, replicate them, teach them to others and before you know it, a field of practice is born.
I know, I know, it is slightly more complicated than that, but at its core, that’s how the development of any new profession starts. It is true for chiropractors, taxi drivers, computer technicians, social media consultants, babysitters, dating experts and literally any job you can think of. The list is always evolving. New jobs emerge, others fade into extinction.
As the need for coaching has grown, so have the options for learning the trade. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of coaching gurus, programs and schools continue to pop up around the globe. Many excellent coaches and their clients have garnered exceptional results and much success with various coaching models and approaches. Research is done, processes are scaled, practitioners are certified.
That’s the backstory. Where do competencies fit it?
Whatever the driver, there are three distinct components to building a strong foundation as a practicing coach: knowledge acquisition, skill-building and competency development.
Knowledge acquisition is the process of studying the theories around coaching. It may involve reading books, blogs, articles or scholarly works on the topic; listening to webinars, podcasts and audiobooks; attending classes at colleges and universities, or workshops provided by private training organizations. It may involve conducting research and writing about coaching. Knowledge acquisition can take place over a short finite period, over a lifetime or somewhere in between.
Skill building is the process of putting knowledge into action. It is the application phase of learning. It involves integrating the steps of a particular coaching model, process or philosophy and practicing them repeatedly to develop proficiency. Observation and evaluation are important components of skill-building. Once emerging coaches have acquired knowledge and built skills, they develop their expertise with continual practice and feedback. Whether inside or outside of an organization, coaches get on with the work of coaching in real-time, real life situations. In this way, they become good coaches, perhaps great coaches, even competent coaches.
Competency development is the process of practicing learned skills against a set of measurable standards. It involves aligning with established benchmarks and evaluating progress for the purpose of continued growth. The use of competencies in coaching provides an objective way of assessing performance that goes beyond feedback from coaching clients.
The International Coach Federation has established three credentials that can be earned based on the ICF competency model. This model provides you, the coach, with a way to create a plan for your continued learning and development.
It also provides a method for organizations and individuals to standardize their coach selection process. Coaches can then differentiate themselves from others in the field.
The debate around competency development and credentialing is an emotional one. You will be able to find individuals who coach with only knowledge as their background, some who have acquired both knowledge and skills, and still others whose focus is knowledge, skills and competency. Many, if not all of these coaches, may be very good coaches who produce excellent results for their clients.
The goal of this book is not to convince you of the importance of competencies or to promote one competency model over another. This book is for those of you who have already decided on the competency path and are ready to deepen your knowledge of the International Coach Federation competencies and start coaching in accordance with them.
What It Takes to Develop a High Level of Competency
To be good at anything (really, really good) takes practice. Lots and lots of practice. There is an old joke my Dad used to tell where a pedestrian stops someone on the street and asks for directions to a famous concert hall in New York City, Carnegie Hall. He says to the passerby, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and receives the reply, “Practice, practice, practice.”
The challenge with practice is that practice without feedback can take you in the opposite direction of your development goals. Competency models give you a tool for measuring what you practice and getting feedback on that practice.
So, the first step in developing a high level of competency is to learn and fully understand the competency model. You need to know the components of the model, what they mean and the behaviors that are associated with each of the components. Then, you need to understand fully the various levels within the competency. You need to learn what it looks like when you are operating at a beginner, intermediate and advanced level within the competency; how to advance from one level to the next; what the behaviors look and sound like at each level.
There are various ways to learn about the ICF Coach Core Competencies. The best starting place is the ICF Global website, where you will find the official wording for each of the Coach Core Competencies as well as the criteria for moving through the competency levels and earning the various credentials. A number of additional resources like this book have been developed by coach training organizations to assist coaches to understand the ICF competencies.
Just as knowing how to do something and actually doing it are two very different things, knowing the competencies and practicing them are not the same. You need to practice the competency behaviors and receive feedback. A qualified mentor coach can listen in on your coaching conversations and provide you with targeted feedback on the competencies that you are demonstrating and those that you need to work on. It is good practice to work with a mentor coach throughout your development. The ICF requires ten hours of work with a mentor coach as a part of the process in earning various credentials.
In a nutshell then, developing a high level of competency takes understanding, practice and feedback: understanding the competencies, practicing them in real coaching situations and receiving feedback on your practice. For the best coaches, the really competent practitioners, this process never ends. It has become a part of their continued growth and development.
I hope you have enjoyed this excerpt from:
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I’m now hard at work on the next book in the series The Really Competent Coach – Communicating Effectively. What would you like me to cover? I’d love to hear from you! Post your questions or comments below.
Author: Cathy Shaughnessy
Cathy Shaughnessy is a PRISM award winning ICF Master Certified Coach and author of the book series The Really Competent Coach. Cathy coaches senior leaders, mentors credentialed coaches, trains fledgling coaches and helps organizations build strong coaching cultures.
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