A Very Adult Conversation About Coaching Competencies

Lesley Cave and I (Fiona Elder) have combined a love of coaching with the desire to take complex subjects and start to explore and get to understand the newly defined ICF competencies. We are both PCC coaches and qualified supervisors who have come to the joint decision that we want to influence the future of the coaching profession through supervision that is fit for the future.

In the first Open Space approach we co-created with other coaches an agenda around the question;

How do you cultivate trust and safety virtually?

Based on the ICF newly defined fourth competence but relatable to EMCCs, Building the Relationship.
The conversation was amazing, shifting from philosophical standpoints to live experiences of being coached by people that one colleague had never seen in a two-year powerful coaching relationship.

The insights we got were unique and all were able to commit to individual focused intentions for our working practice. It felt like an extremely grown-up way of learning and stretching our thinking.

My Learning

For me the real learning was about the mutuality of the relationship between coach and coachee, the need for the coach to create a spacious container of time and attention for the client to do their own real work, in their own style, starting from their own perceptions, feelings and beliefs.

I was reminded of Marcia Reynolds phrase that as coaches we work with clients recognising them as creative, resourceful, and whole. It struck me that we also need to recognise that in ourselves. We as coaches, are creative, resourceful and whole and knowing that consciously enables us to maintain our authentic presence and to acknowledge theirs. That way safety is felt in the conversation as trust grows.

The second validation from the conversation was the importance of getting on with their work whatever that may be. The relationship can build through prioritising the work of the client to be done then and there. I can trust that the amazing coach-client relationship will build not as an end in itself but as a part of the work. The balance that we as coaches need to perfect is how to flex with the need of our clients while staying authentically true to ourselves.

No one will be surprised that the subject of contracting and partnering to form, reform and test the working agreement came into the conversation at regular intervals.

My Encouragement to You

I can really encourage all coaches to embrace the frameworks of competencies our professional bodies have put together. Not because they tell you what to do but because they help you discover your unique identity as a coach.


If this is of interest, you can join in the conversation with Fiona and Lesley.

Fiona Elder is an accredited ICF coach (PCC), coach supervisor and consultant working with leaders and technical experts who need to increase their influence and impact within working environments.

Lesley Cave is an accredited ICF coach (PCC), coach supervisor and coach mentor, with an expertise focused on behavioural & performance change in organisations.

Read more blogs from Fiona – Setting intentions and knowing your purpose