ICF Core Competency 8

ICF Core Competency 8: Facilitate Client Growth

This article explores Core Competency 8, “Facilitate Client Growth”, one of the eight core competencies at the heart of ICF-style coaching. The competencies are not hierarchical nor linear and have a great deal of overlap in practice.

What Is Core Competency 8

ICF Competency 8 is an essential skill for all coaches. It allows coaches to create a partnership with their clients and help them achieve their goals, closely reflecting the ICF definition of coaching.

According to ICF, a coach is one who “partners with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process” that inspires self-discovery, learning, and action. Coaches challenge their clients’ thinking, generate possibilities, and support them in taking responsibility for their own learning and growth.

Competency 8 contains four markers or sub-competencies:

1. Establish agreements

Coaches work with clients to set goals and expectations for the coaching relationship. They also create a safe and supportive environment where clients are comfortable exploring their thoughts and feelings.

2. Co-create the relationship

Coaches actively involve clients in the coaching process. They listen attentively, ask questions, and provide feedback. Clients are encouraged to take ownership of their own learning and growth.

3. Facilitate learning

Coaches help clients to develop their understanding of themselves, others, and the world around them. They use a variety of tools and techniques to promote learning, including questioning, reflection, and self-assessment.

4. Hold clients accountable

Coaches support clients in designing action steps on their goals. They help clients to identify obstacles and develop strategies for overcoming them. Coaches also hold clients accountable for their progress.

How to Demonstrate Core Competency 8

A coach can demonstrate ICF Competency 8 by consistently applying the following behaviors and practices:

1. Establish clear agreements and expectations (competency 3)

Clearly define the coaching relationship, including the roles and responsibilities of both the coach and the client. Establish specific and measurable goals for the coaching engagement.

2. Co-create a safe and supportive environment (competency 4)

Foster a trusting and respectful relationship with the client, encouraging open communication and exploration of thoughts and feelings. Create a non-judgmental space where the client feels comfortable taking risks and experimenting with new behaviors.

3. Active listening and questioning (competencies 5, 6)

Listen attentively to the client’s verbal and nonverbal cues, demonstrating genuine interest and understanding. Ask open-ended questions to encourage deeper exploration of the client’s experiences and perspectives.

4. Evoke awareness and insights (competency 7)

Help the client gain a new understanding of themselves, their motivations, and their patterns of thinking and behavior. Use reflective questions, challenging assumptions, and providing different perspectives to stimulate self-discovery.

5. Support client autonomy

Empower the client to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions. Encourage self-reflection and self-assessment to foster personal growth and development.

6. Design goals and action plans

Collaboratively develop specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals with the client. Create actionable steps and strategies to achieve these goals, breaking down larger objectives into manageable tasks.

7. Hold client accountable

Regularly check in with the client to track progress, identify challenges, and provide support and encouragement. Help the client develop accountability mechanisms to stay on track and achieve their goals.

8. Celebrate successes and milestones

Recognize and acknowledge the client’s achievements, no matter how small. Celebrate the client’s progress and growth, reinforcing positive behaviors and motivation.

9. Facilitate learning and integration

Help the client integrate new insights and learnings into their worldview and behaviors. Encourage the application of new skills and strategies in real-life situations to promote sustainable change.

10. Close the coaching engagement

Summarize the key learnings, insights, and actions from the coaching process. Provide a final feedback session and discuss any ongoing support or resources the client may need.

Bottom Line: Facilitate Your Clients’ Growth and Success

When coaches demonstrate ICF Competency 8, they help clients to:

  • Develop their self-awareness: Coaches help clients to identify their strengths, weaknesses, values, and beliefs.
  • Set and achieve goals: Coaches help clients to set realistic and achievable goals. They also provide support and encouragement as clients work towards their goals.
  • Develop their skills: Coaches help clients to develop new skills or improve existing skills. This could include communication, problem-solving, or interpersonal skills.
  • Increase their confidence: Coaches help clients to build their self-confidence. This can lead to increased motivation and success in all areas of life.

To conclude, an ICF assessor will be looking for evidence that you support the client in exploring how to apply the client’s learning and awareness to post-session actions that are related to the client’s stated agenda and have the potential to move the client forward in their thinking, learning, or growth.

Looking to get accredited by ICF? Our ICF Mentor Coaching Program will help you master all eight core competencies and get accredited by the International Coaching Federation. It’s 100% online, self-paced, and you can start anytime.

Steve McVey
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