Center for Coaching Certification

Common Mistake #3 of 3 – Lessons Learned from ICF Assessors

The first two of three common mistakes in the previous blogs, failure to have a clear agreement and leading, are closely related to the third common mistake, telling, teaching, or advising.  During coach training, the biggest paradigm shift for most is that coaches do NOT tell, teach, or advise – instead, they ask questions.  A coach is a trained professional who holds the client as a whole person who is fully capable. Lessons Learned from ICF Assessors

In exploring the third common mistake shared by Jim Smith in his presentation to ICF’s Ethics Community of Practice, there are several key points to highlight .  From ICF’s Code of Ethics the definition for a coaching relationship includes having an agreement that defines responsibilities and expectations.  This is again stated in number 2 in the code.  In number 11 it talks about actively managing power or status difference.  Number 21 addresses accuracy around what coaching offers.  From the Core Competencies, under Embodies a Coaching Mindset, it says: Acknowledges clients are responsible for their own choices.  Under Establishes and Maintains Agreements there are four points on partnering with the client so they determine focus, what to address, and their measure of success.  Assessors are trained that if the conversation involves the coach primarily telling, teaching, or advising then it is a fail on the basis of coaching ethics.

The bottom line to all this is that it is the coach’s responsibility to ensure the coach asks powerful questions so the client explores for themself, makes their own choices, creates their own strategies and action plan, and celebrates their progress and success.  Coaching certification teaches the competencies and ethics.  Coach training includes practicing this during coaching sessions.

It is easy to tell people what to do.  Coaching them so they find their own answers takes more time, skill, and patience. Coaching is a profession that requires training and ongoing learning to best serve clients.  The good news?  It works.


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Common Mistake #2 of 3 – Lessons Learned from ICF Assessors

In the previous blog we looked at the first of three common mistakes made by coaches in recordings they submit to the ICF for their credential application.  The first common mistake was failing to get a clear agreement on what a client wants from a coaching session.  That leads into the second of three common mistakes: the coach leads.  During coach training, the significance of recognizing the client as capable, have the choice, and being in charge of their own plan is explored in terms of being ethical as a coach. Lessons Learned from ICF Assessors

When Jim Smith presented to the ICF Ethics Community of Practice, he explored what a coach leading means.  Here is an example: Imagine a client saying they want to address points 1, 2, and 3.  If the coach then chooses which of the three to talk about, then the coach is leading.  If the coach chooses an approach, such as brainstorming, role-playing, or listing pros and cons, instead of asking the client how they want to have the conversation, the coach is leading.  In summary, if the coach decides independently what to talk about, when to talk about it, or how to talk about it, the coach is leading.

Coaching certification teaches us that it is the coach’s responsibility is to ensure the client is in the driver’s seat.  That means in addition to the client choosing what they want from the coaching session and their measure of success, they also choose where to start and how to move forward.

In the next blog, the third common mistake is covered so come on back!


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Common Mistake #1 of 3 – Lessons Learned from ICF Assessors

While planning for a presentation to ICF’s Ethics Community of Practice, I had the opportunity to talk with the presenter, Jim Smith.  Then, during his presentation, Exploring the Convergence of Updated Ethics and Core Competencies, what we had talked about was a powerful message for many.  Jim talked about the three most common mistakes made in recordings of coaching sessions submitted as part of an application for an ICF credential.  In this mini blog series, we will explore each of these three common mistakes. Lessons Learned from ICF Assessors

The first is the failure to have an agreement.

What does that mean?  During coach training we talk about agreements happening in three stages.  Stage one is an initial conversation about what coaching is and is not.  Stage two is the written agreement for a coaching engagement.  Stage three happens every single coaching session and that is where the coach asks the client what they want from the coaching session.  Examples of questions include:

  • What do you want to focus on today?
  • What specifically do you want to accomplish in this conversation?
  • How will you know this conversation was successful?
  • What does achieving this mean to you?
  • What might get in the way?
  • How do you want to have the conversation?

When in coaching certification these examples are given and discussed and practiced.  Until there is a clear agreement on exactly what the client wants from the session, it is impossible to have that coaching session.


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Application of the 4 Pillars for Self-confidence

By Birgit Rohm

Birgit RohmIn this blog series, we explored four pillars that are the foundation of our self-confidence: connection, acknowledgement, self-care, and control. Understanding each makes it easier to find out which pillar is wobbling at the moment and knowing to seek strategies or support in order to strengthen the foundation again. This is an ongoing beautiful and enriching process.

Recognizing these pillars and building healthy self-confidence empowers self-leadership. The most beautiful effect of self-leadership, in addition to the fact that you feel much better, is that you lead in your environment in the same way, whether as a parent, leader, or team member. It starts with the connection with self through reflection. It develops through acknowledging emotions. It grows by being aware of and ensuring self-care. It becomes solid with knowing what is and is not within personal control and being strong with boundaries.  Working together these pillars are the foundation that leads to self-confidence – and that enriches life as a whole.

During coach training, coaches learn how to partner with clients for their reflection and connection, awareness and acknowledgment of themselves, prioritization of self-care, and ensuring they have control of their choices. This means that coaches learn the competencies and ethics to partner with you on your journey and support your self-confidence. 

If the implementation is challenging and you realize that burdens and/or patterns prevent you from having access to one of the pillars or more, coaching is an opportunity to release these burdens and move forward.


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Control – A Pillar of Self-Confidence

By Birgit Rohm

Birgit RohmThus far we have explored the first three pillars of connection, acknowledgment, and self-care. Now we move into the fourth pillar, control.

Control: To know what is good for me, I also need to know Who and What is not good for me. That means we have to know how to set boundaries. Time – and Energy Management are key. If we have mastered this, things that we don’t enjoy but must do are also easier. We know it is temporary and can adapt to it. A little bit of control remains in every situation to do good – the famous silver lining. We just have to become our own silver-lining-expert. Another control helps us here, the choice of our perspective. How we view people or situations. We have the choice to look at things negatively or positively, to see the good or the bad. Are we critical and judgmental or are we open and interested in the reason for a situation or behavior? Are we also ready to take responsibility for ourselves? We are humans and humans make mistakes. The feeling of having made a mistake doesn’t feel good; it passes if we allow it to do so. Defining the problem and being interested in a solution versus spending time on the question of guilt saves a lot of stress and energy. A focus on solutions helps to avoid many sources of conflict in companies and families.

Why is a No as a boundary sometimes not respected?

What is important with No is the intention with which No is deposited. Is it a No with a question mark, according to the motto, do you still like me? Or is it a No because the outside world expects it from me? Or is it a No that comes with conviction and an explanation? That makes the difference whether our No is accepted or not. The intention is reflected in the tone, i.e. the No in the first two cases has no effect on the person at the receiving end. This becomes very clear with children and employees. The other extreme, playing out power, is also not the way. According to the motto, because I say so, that creates conflict. Your own conviction and the factual explanation are decisive. The compassion that is thus maintained strengthens the connection, whether in private or professional life.

Control has many facets, it is important to know what I have control over and what I do not have control over. Control provides stability. It’s like the lines on the street, when they suddenly stop, we feel insecure for a short time.


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Self-care – A Pillar of Self-Confidence

Self-care – A Pillar of Self-Confidence

Birgit RohmBy Birgit Rohm

Thus far in this blog series, we have explored the first two pillars of self-confidence, connection, and acknowledgment.  Now we move into the third, self-care.  For those of us who coach, this is often significant both personally and in supporting clients. During coach training we learn our responsibility for self-care so that we can best serve clients.  We also practice coaching clients to create their strategies and plans for self-care.

Self-care: While commonly stress has a negative effect on the body, some stress is good and there are stressful phases with which the body copes best if – and that is the point – we enjoy it. If what we do gives us pleasure, the body sends out neurotransmitters that strengthen us and support our health. Knowing what is good for us activates our productivity and motivation. But where to start? In the smallest detail. It’s like the oxygen masks in an airplane, we have to put them on ourselves first and then put them on those around us who need help. This has nothing to do with selfishness, but with self-responsibility. If I am full of energy and strength, my environment also profits from it. There is a beautiful relationship saying: I do self-care for you and you do self-care for me. 

What if I am unsure of what is good for me? How do I find out?

In this case, the focus must be directed from the outside inwards, from external expectations to internal motivation. What motivates me? Not others, me? What inspires me? What do my two energy sources count on, the body-energy and the creative-energy? Positive thoughts come with motivating emotions to activate high-quality neurotransmitters. Especially in stressful phase in which a lot of adrenaline and cortisol is released, it is imperative to know what is good for me. This way we activate additional neurotransmitters which in turn further trigger healing and reproduction in the body. Thought – Emotion – Body. This is a chain reaction that we can influence.

To give our self-care space and time requires something very important. What is it?

This leads us directly to the next and last pillar of self-confidence – control.   Come back for the exploration of control for self-confidence.


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Acknowledgement – A Pillar of Self-Confidence

By Birgit Rohm

Birgit RohmIn the previous blog, we explored the first pillar of confidence, connection. Now we continue with the second pillar.

During coach training one of the competencies taught and developed includes Evokes Awareness. This is a starting point for this next pillar.

Acknowledgement: It is important to be aware of, acknowledge, and validate thoughts and emotions of all kinds. In short, our own appreciation. Can we give ourselves grace by acknowledging and accepting if something was hurtful or that something went wrong? Can we be best friends to ourselves or is the inner critic constantly working at full speed? Emotion (E-Motion) is energy, impulses in flow, which come with a beginning and an end, whether it is anger, frustration, sadness or joy. When we acknowledge our emotions, they run in a healthy flow so expressing them or accepting them happens naturally. Children are the best role models for this; one moment they are sad, the next happy, the next frustrated, etc. They live the healthy flow. Feelings can be lived outwardly as with children. Or inner recognition alone can calm emotions. What doesn’t calm them down is the anger at the anger or the anger at the sadness or the expectation of the inner critic. Instead of calming down, more emotions are added. The owning and acknowledgment of all emotions is the solution.

What happens in the body when we do not process emotional stress?

If we do not allow emotional stress to be processed, neurotransmitters such as adrenaline and cortisol are permanently emitted. The body is in a permanent state of alert, i.e. all our energy is used for this, and healing or reproduction is on hold. Sooner or later the body will pull the plug, in whatever form.

What can we do to send out messenger substances that activate our healing and reproduction and thus make us agile and fit?

This leads us directly to the next pillar of our self-confidence – our self-care.  In the next blog that pillar is explored.


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Connection – A Pillar of Self-Confidence

By Birgit Rohm

Birgit RohmBecause confidence influences our success in many different ways, coaches learn during their coaching certification about supporting confidence through awareness, acceptance, and affirmation.  In the previous blog, four pillars of confidence were identified and here we dive into the first of the pillars.

Connection: The connection to ourselves – Self-reflection. That means perceiving ourselves. To get an answer to the reasons I think what I think, what is behind saying what I say, and acting the way I act. Sounds easy and often it is so difficult because every thought, expression, and action comes with emotion – and emotions are often pushed away. I can only get a clear head and react rationally and thoughtfully when I am aware of my emotions. We often wish we didn’t feel something and want to push it away, according to the motto, I don’t mind. However, anatomically this is not possible at all, because our vegetative nervous system absorbs every feeling from the outside. It has to because that serves us for survival. Every feeling is tested there to see if a flight-fight-freeze-reaction is necessary. If we are not in acute danger, the information goes on to the brain and our intellect decides what to do. At the same time, while our body receives signals from the outside it also receives signals from the inside. Every thought is accompanied by emotion, i.e. every emotion from outside or inside passes through our body, whether we like it or not. If the intellect has been trained not to want to admit this, then emotions accumulate in the body over time. A mental repression consumes a lot of energy. The managers in our inner team who suppress this emotional stress are anger, frustration, dissatisfaction, etc. This can sooner or later result in exhaustion and pain.

What can we do to avoid this damage and learn to process our emotions?

This leads us to the next pillar – acknowledgement.  Come back for the next blog and to continue learning.


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How can I strengthen my self-confidence?

By Birgit Rohm

Birgit RohmSelf-confidence impacts all of us and often we are hesitant to discuss it or what is happening for us personally. Unfortunately, this holds us back.

We all know the feeling of insecurity and that doesn’t feel good. We look at others and have the feeling that they are much more self-assured. This can be deceptive, especially bossy behavior, which is often interpreted as self-confidence and is often a fallacy.

According to the International Coaching Federation, self-confidence is one of the top reasons individuals engage a coach. During coaching certification coaches learn tools and techniques for building healthy self-confidence.

What makes real self-confidence? Our self-confidence is based on four pillars: connection, acknowledgment, self-care, and control. If one of these pillars is missing or shaky, we feel insecure. Thus, our foundation is unstable. The existing insecurity is often compensated with ego behavior such as anger, frustration, or repression. In that moment we stop trusting ourselves and follow external expectations instead of internal motivation.

This means I have influence on my foundation. What can I do to keep it solid?

Let’s get to know each of the pillars.  This blog series will cover the pillars so that you have the awareness of what you control and choices for moving forward.


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Reframe the Outcome of an Unwanted Change to a New Desired State

By Sheila Fain LaMarsh Global

Sheila FainInstead of the normal flow of change, or even the idealistic return to the old norm, the impact of COVID is that we are experiencing unplanned and undesired change.  With that as a given, now we have the opportunity to reframe the goal of this change: let’s define and work towards a new desired state. We can accept the unwanted change and then leverage the opportunities and challenges that we are experiencing to contribute to a new reality.  Instead of waiting to go back to normal, we can define a new desired future state.

New State



Defining a New Desired State

Is the best path forward a complete return to the “normal” state from before?  This situation has pushed many of us into a new reality where we have been innovative and resilient. Instead of returning to normal, the alternative is to leverage the benefits and challenges of the change to achieve a state that takes us in directions we did not see as possible before.

Use coach training to formulate powerful coaching questions.  To help define a new desired state, here are some questions to ask:

  • What are you learning from your current living and working situations?
  • What are the challenges or obstacles that you are experiencing?
  • How can you overcome those challenges?
  • How can you prevent them in the future?
  • What are the benefits or opportunities you are experiencing?
  • How has this improved your working relationships, capabilities, and behaviors?
  • What do you want to bring with you to the new desired state?
  • What part of the change do you control?
  • What can you influence?
  • What are your strategies moving forward?
  • What are your action steps?

The changes due to COVID have an impact on every individual’s daily routine.  The health and economic impacts run the gamut from minimal to devastating.  We can make the most out of the situation by reframing our future.  We can learn from the challenges and opportunities to work towards an improved normal.


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