Unlock your Potential: Exploring the ICF Style of Coaching

Jun 7, 2023

In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, individuals and organizations are constantly seeking ways to enhance their performance and achieve their goals.

One approach that has gained significant recognition is ICF (International Coaching Federation) style coaching. Through this blog, I hope to share with you the essence of ICF style coaching, its core principles, and how it empowers individuals to unlock their true potential based on my experiences as an ICF accredited coach.

But, first, let me share with you why I decided to become an ICF accredited coach. To be completely honest, I had never heard of ICF coaching till I chanced upon it through a friend. I had already trained as an “Energy Therapist” / “Energy Architect”, had trained in Kundalini Yoga, had 13 years of monastic training in meditation in the Tibetan tradition, and had also done a Mindfulness certification course. I had also done a few courses with the heavy hitters of personal development like Bob Proctor and Tony Robbins.

When I started my Coaching Foundation course at Coacharya in 2021, it was a different world for me. Key constructs of ICF coaching that really appealed to me were things like “partnering”, “being client centric”, “having unconditional positive regard”, “listening actively”, “understanding the who and the what of the client”, “evoking awareness”, respecting the client as powerful and resourceful”, etc.

The coaching style I was used to earlier was more like “instructing the client”, “the coach having all the answers”, “no partnership”, “giving the solution to the client” etc and most of all it felt like the coach was always more resourceful than the client. Sounds quite the opposite of coaching, right?  And in the spirit of honesty, I thought I knew it all.

ICF style coaching forced me to unlearn and relearn what the spirit of coaching really is.

What is ICF Style Coaching?

ICF style coaching is a professional coaching framework developed by the International Coaching Federation, a global organization dedicated to setting high standards and a benchmark for the coaching profession. It provides a comprehensive structure and ethical guidelines for coaches to facilitate personal and professional growth in their clients.

ICF style coaching emphasizes a partnership between the coach and the client, focusing on creating awareness, generating insights, and taking action to achieve desired outcomes. In my experience, it is this aspect of “partnership” that truly makes this process an empowering one. Read ahead to know more about the core principles of ICF style coaching that have formed a solid foundation in my coaching practice.

Client-Centered Approach

Placing the client at the center of the coaching process is the most important learning for me. When I earlier thought of client-centricity, I associated it with being able to help the client with the right answers, but in its truest sense, I learned that it is about  adopting a non-directive stance, honouring the client’s agenda, goals, and values. This principle fosters a safe and supportive environment that encourages self-reflection and empowers clients to explore their own solutions

Powerful Inquiry

Effective questioning lies at the heart of ICF style coaching. It is here that the difference in my earlier understanding becomes apparent. It isn’t about ‘telling’ but about ‘asking.’ Coaches skilfully ask open-ended questions that prompt clients to think deeply, gain clarity, and challenge their assumptions. These thought-provoking questions stimulate new perspectives, uncover limiting beliefs, and inspire clients to explore untapped possibilities. Do you think questions are a powerful way to enhance one’s capability to find their own solutions and begin to feel empowered?

Listening Actively

When was the last time you experienced a conversation when someone listened to you deeply? What shifted inside you because of that? ICF style coaching emphasises listening actively as a fundamental skill. Coaches listen attentively to the client’s words, tone, and emotions, seeking to understand their underlying needs and aspirations. By demonstrating empathy and providing a non-judgmental space, coaches help clients feel heard and validated, fostering a deeper level of trust. In my experience, you truly learn “who” your client is.

Goal-Oriented Focus

ICF style coaching is future-oriented and goal-focused. Coaches assist clients in defining clear, measurable, and realistic goals that align with their values and aspirations. Through a collaborative process, coaches support clients in developing actionable plans and strategies, helping them to own the process of their development. Isn’t this a wonderful way to have a meaningful conversation with your manager or team lead?

Benefits of ICF Style Coaching

I could think of so many. For our blog today, I am sharing with you four benefits that I witnessed through the several coaching sessions that I have had with clients.

  • It takes you on a path of self-discovery and growth. ICF style coaching facilitates self-awareness and personal growth by encouraging clients to explore their strengths, values, and areas for development. It enables individuals to gain clarity about their goals and values, identify obstacles, and cultivate new skills and perspectives.
  • I experienced that clients’ performance gets enhanced through the process. By setting specific, achievable goals, ICF style coaching helps clients explore who they are and steps they would like to take in the direction that makes most sense to them.  Coaches provide support in the form of effective questions that focus on who they are as people and also what they wish to do in order to reach their goal.
  • I witnessed how so many of my clients experienced strengthening of  relationships.Through the process, Clients learn to look within, what’s coming in the way of them being their best selves – maybe fears, worries, stress that is stemming from something deeper. Once they get the space to explore that with the coach and express themselves freely, they begin to heal a part of themselves or find answers to what was coming in the way.  This helped many to improve and strengthen personal and professional relationships.
  • The one that makes me believe more and more in the process is seeing sustainable change. Unlike quick-fix solutions, ICF style coaching aims to bring about sustainable change by empowering clients to develop self-reliance and self-coaching skills. Clients gain the tools and mindset to navigate challenges, adapt to change, and continue their personal growth journey long after the coaching engagement concludes.

As I conclude this article, I want to share that this effective style of coaching actually saved me from a downward spiral in my own life, and I use it as a self-coaching tool. It has taught me humility and has given me grace with myself and others.

Globally, it has emerged as a powerful approach to personal and professional development, providing individuals with the guidance, support, and tools they need to unleash their highest potential and be on the path to becoming their best versions.

By embracing the core principles of client-centeredness, powerful inquiry, listening actively, and goal-oriented focus, ICF style coaches empower their clients to create meaningful and lasting transformations in their lives.

Whether in the realm of career, relationships, or personal well-being, this gold-standard approach to coaching opens doors to new possibilities and helps individuals thrive in an ever-changing world.

Would you like to untap into your potential and become an ICF-accredited Coach?

Let me know in the comments below share your thoughts with me on CoachNook..

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