What It Means to Uphold Core ICF Values

What It Means to Uphold Core ICF Values


Most disciplines have a code of conduct to adhere to as part of their profession. Coaching is no different. Codes are what keep the profession honest and held up to a higher standard.

In the world of coaching, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the largest internationally recognized regulatory body. The ICF has put forth codes of conduct for coaching professionals, including ethical practices and core values. They ensure coaches uphold a certain standard as professionals and that coaching clients get the value they expect. The ICF is also a resource for clients who want to find out more about coaching practices and norms.


Upholding Core Values 


First and foremost, coaches establish a strong foundation for the coaching relationship. This means they abide by the ICF core competencies to co-create a relationship with the client using the eight ICF Core Competencies as their guiding principles including: 1) Ethics, 2) Cultivating a Coaching Mindset, 3) Setting Agreements, 4) Building Trust and Intimacy, 5) Maintaining Presence, 6) Evoking Awareness, 7) Listening Actively, and 8) Promoting Continuous Learning and Growth. All coaches are required to respect the rules of confidentiality as well, which is a very important part of the foundation. 

Coaching clients appreciate a coach who respects their experiences and beliefs. Someone who is fully present to their goals, without a personal agenda. Great coaches take time to clarify goals, explore current situations and expand awareness through global listening and mirroring back what they see and hear using strategies like observations and feedback. Finding a great coach isn’t just about a coach’s experience.  It’s the quality (not quantity) of a coach’s experience and credentials that matters most. And let’s not forget the importance of the ‘right fit’!  


Setting the Coaching Stage


Coaches set the stage for a session. They bring powerful energy into the coaching engagement. In fact, we at the academy often say, “ease begins with the coach!”.  A coach’s energy is very influential in a session, and therefore coaches must cultivate the coaching mindset before, after and between coaching sessions as a practice to maintain presence and self-manage distracting thoughts to build the foundation of trust.   Coaches ideally want to show up at sessions with a clear mind and energy to be fully attentive to the other person. They are mentally and emotionally prepared to unpack a client’s thoughts and emotions. 

Another way coaches uphold their values is by showing up with intention and purpose to serve. 

Compatibility and Coachability


Coaching is not a one size fits all engagement. Compatibility and coachability are important factors to consider when entering into a coaching engagement. When a coach becomes aware of  signs that a client may not be ready for coaching, or may not be a good fit for coaching at this time in their lives, they have two main options, end the relationship, or refer to another helping profession that may be more appropriate. Coaching is a profession with a distinct approach that requires the client to be ready for change. 


Coaching Presence 


Have you ever spoken to someone who is distracted by their phone while you are talking? What does it feel like to be in their presence? 

Nancy Kline, author of Time to Think, says, “The mind that holds the problem, holds the solution”. This is a powerful statement that is actually only true if the coach is good at holding space and fully attentive to the client.  A coach who is distracted  or emotionally unavailable will only add to the mind’s confusion and risks leaving a client more confused than clear.  Simply listening is not  enough. Qualified ICF Coaches learn to actively listen by echoing, observing, checking for meaning and acknowledgments  while exploring with appreciative questions. 

Clients want more than anything to be heard, seen and feel important to you.  


Effective Communication as a Core Value


Effective communication is one of the most important ICF core values. It creates a healthy foundation for good communication skills and techniques that most people are unaware of before joining a coach training program. It’s a powerful style of communication that helps a client feel taken care of, and doesn’t it feel nice to be taken care of?


Hire a coach! 


Clients who work with a coach consistently, have the benefit of a coach who learns their emotional language. Long term coaching engagements position the coach to help clients create awareness of the differences between intentions and impact. A client’s  identity, environment, experiences, values, and beliefs are transformed into something more cohesive.


Coaches who cultivate learning and growth  transform insights from client sessions into action. They acknowledge your autonomy and celebrate your progress.