The Quiet Coach – 7

February 24, 2023

What does it mean to be an ACC coach?

Learning to be a coach is a complex and nuanced process and the people who are drawn to make the investment in this are often very committed to supporting others in their development. What I’ve often found is that the flip side of this commitment is that many learner coaches are very hard on themselves. I’ll always remember with much fondness the person who came up to me after the second day of our eight day workshop and said “I’m never going to be a good coach” (she’s now an excellent coach btw).

All coaches start in the same place and progress through the journey of deepening their self-awareness and building their skills and it is important to assess yourself relative to where you are at in that journey.

It is with that intent that the ICF has a document that outlines the minimum skills required for the ACC Credential – this post offers a summary and a handy checklist you can use to evaluate where you are; you can find the details here

Please note that this document is to help you assess how you are demonstrating the competencies in a given coaching conversation; it is not a substitute for learning about the competencies in detail.

Also the first two competencies (“demonstrates ethical practise” and “embodies a coaching mindset”) are difficult to assess in a single conversation so those are not included here.

Do also remember that you do not have to submit a perfect coaching conversation; the ICF is looking for evidence that you understand these behaviours; you do not have to have answered yes to all these questions to be an ACC coach. From the horse’s mouth: “ICF strongly believes that clients receive real and substantive value from ACC coaches. That value rests always in the coach’s attention to the client and what the client wishes to accomplish, as well as the coach’s complete support of the client’s agenda.”

I’d strongly recommend recording a coaching conversation of yours, making a transcript and reading through that with this document handy; it’s a great way to build your skills.

Competency What is being assessed at an ACC level: You will not receive a passing score for the ACC if you:
Establishes and maintains agreements
– Did you ask the client what they wanted to achieve from the session?
– Did you support the client in clarifying that goal for themselves?
– Did you stay with that coaching agenda unless the client wanted to change it?
– Were you curious about the client’s thinking and feeling with respect to that agenda?
– choose the topic for the client
– do not coach around the topic the client has chosen
Cultivates Trust and Safety
– Did you acknowledge the client for their learning and insights?
– Did you stay out of any judgement for the client’s feelings, thinking or beliefs?
– Did you express support and concern for the client’s situation?
– Are not curious about the client’s thinking around the situation
– Are unsupportive or disrespectful to the client
– Are more focused on your own performance or demonstration of knowledge about the topic rather than on the client.
Maintains Presence
– Did you stay curious throughout the session?
– Did you empathise with the client?
– Did you allow the client to direct the conversation (at least some of the time)?
– Are more interested in your own view of the situation rather than exploring the client’s view of the situation
– Do not ask questions about the client’s thinking around the situation or do not respond to that information
– Consistently direct the conversation
Listens Actively
– Did you use summarizing or paraphrasing to make sure you understood the client correctly?
– Did you listen to what the client is communicating both verbally and non-verbally?
– Did you make observations that support the client in creating new associations (eg playing back an incongruence between what they are saying and how they are saying it)?
– Are not listening to or responding to the client
– Respond in a way that is not related to what the client is trying to achieve.
– appear to be listening for the place where you can demonstrate your knowledge or tell the client what to do
Evokes Awareness
– Did you help the client explore their current thinking, emotions, and behaviors in relation to the contract?
– Did you support the client in viewing the situation from new or different perspectives?
– Did you acknowledge the client’s new awareness, learning, and movement toward the desired outcome?
– Are consistently focused on instructing the client or sharing your own knowledge, ideas or beliefs;
– Ask a large number of questions that are leading or contain pre-determined answers
– ask questions that attend to an agenda or issues not set by the client

Facilitates Client Growth
– Did you ask questions to support the client in translating awareness into action?
– Did you partner with the client to create or confirm specific action plans?
– Did you work with the client to close the session (eg saying “is there anything else on your mind?”)?
– Insist the client carry out specific actions prescribed by you
– suggest actions or steps to the client that do not have a clear relationship to the client’s stated agenda
– do not invite the client to identify or explore how the client’s learning can be applied to future actions
– unilaterally close the session

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    3 responses to “The Quiet Coach – 7”

    1. Meenakshi Shivram says:

      The Competencies framework is helpful. Summarising that succinctly here in a simple manner is even more so. The essence of the coaching process is what you have mentioned in the first sentence – one has to be committed to supporting others in their development. Thanks for yet another insightful piece.

    2. Murthy PNS says:

      Grateful thanks for summarizing competencies in such a simple way in a tabular form. I look forwards to this bulletin week after week.

    3. Sanghamitra says:

      This is so helpful! As a learner coach this is going to be my ready reckoner as I build my competencies.

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