Everything you need to know about the updates to the ICF Core Competencies

This blog features everything you need to know about the updates to the ICF Core Competencies model (CCM) and how it impacts you.  On November 14th the International Coaching Federation (ICF) announced the first major update to the ICF CCM. This comes after completing 2 years of research, involving 1,300 coaches.  The changes have been described as an ‘evolution’ rather than a ‘revolution’.  The revised ICF CCM features a number of changes that are significant to our role as coaches in organisations and workplaces.  As an Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP) provider, Open Door was invited to briefings about the changes.  These insights can now be shared with you.

Grounded in research and practice

It has been 20 years since the groundwork was put in place for the ICF CCM. The latest update comes after 2 years of research involving over 1,300 coaches. The coaches participating in the process represented a range of: credential levels; experience; and countries across the globe. Most importantly, the updates were:

  1. Data driven and evidenced based. This means an update was only made to the ICF CCM if it was supported by data;
  2. Based on a clear research methodology;
  3. Focussed on using the Job Analysis – Knowledge, Skills and Abilities framework to identify effective coaching; and
  4. Reflective of current coaching practice.

More aligned to workplace coaching

The ICF CCM is reflecting the evolution of coaching over the past twenty years. This includes the growth of workplace coaching.  As a result of the process, the ICF CCM is more closely aligned, in my opinion, to the actual practice of workplace coaching.  In addition, the ICF CCM is stream-lining competency language. It is pleasing to see some of the language that I found ‘jarring’, has been removed.

The coaching mind-set

 The first key distinction in the revised ICF CCM, in my opinion, is acknowledging the coaching mind-set.  This means that coaching is not just about the process of ‘doing’ coaching. Rather, effective coaching is about a mind-set and how we are ‘being’ as coaches.  In my opinion, this is a significant change that is important to our role as workplace coaches, executive coaches and coach training. Moving away from a simple focus on the process of coaching.  It reminds me of (the late) Sir John Whitmore’s great comment that ‘anyone can read out the GROW model questions, but that doesn’t make them a coach’.

At Open Door we are focussing on learning the mindset of coaching.  This concept is built into our Accredited Coach Training Programs (ACTP) and our Continuing Coach Education (CCE) programs.  Through our own learning we are enabling learning within the client and their change in mindset. Therefore, we are finding this change to the ICF CCM to be very exciting.


Continuing coach development

The second key distinction is focusing on reflective practice and continuous development of ourselves, as coach professionals.  This will come as no surprise to the Open Door Alumni joining our weekly Coaching Café program. The Coaching Café program is focussing on our continued professional development.  And many coaches are taking advantage of the FREE Continuing Coach Education (CCE) units attached to the program.  It will be also be no surprise to coaches who are also undertaking the credentialing process. This is a good example of how the updates to the ICF CCM reflect the practice of coaches in the workplace, executive coaches and coach training.

Key updates that affect workplace coaching

The key updates include all of the concepts in the current model, but they have been revised to be more reflective of practice.  This includes:

  1. Increased emphasis on ethics and confidentiality;
  2. The influence and integration of the client’s context and culture in the coaching;
  3. The concept of partnering with the client;
  4. The acknowledgement a coaching agreement can be set for the overall coaching program and at the individual session level;
  5. The acknowledges the role of stakeholders in setting the coaching goals; and
  6. The idea of a range of coaching tools and techniques being used during the coaching session.

What does it mean to Open Door’s coach training programs?

Open Door was one of the first organisations in Australia to have our coach training programs recognised by the ICF ACTP.  The Diploma of Workplace and Business Coaching was the first Diploma program in the world to accredited.  Our programs were first accredited back in 2007. Since then, Open Door is participating renewal and validation processes four times per year.

We are very excited to see the revision to the ICF CCM. And we know right now that our coach training programs include all of the changes.

How does Open Door’s ACTP program reflect the changes to the ICF CCM?

Open Door is focusing on the continuous improvement of our ACTP program and CCE programs.  We are receiving feedback from a vast range of clients in the workplace. And as a result, we are informed by research, practice and feedback. This focus means our programs already include:

  • The acknowledgement of culture and context;
  • Understanding the coaching boundary and when a referral to other support services might be appropriate;
  • The influence of stakeholders on the coaching relationship and setting goals at different levels;
  • The concept of reflective practice and continuous improvement; and
  • The focus on the mindset of coaching.

What does it mean to me as a workplace coach, executive coach or my coach training with Open Door?

The answer is simple: you can be confident that your coach training with Open Door is aligned to the revised ICF CCM.

We will be completing the process of mapping the ICF CCM to our ACTP programs.  But a major re-write of any materials is unlikely to be required.  In fact, the ICF is suggesting that coach training organisations are likely to be incorporating the changes already in their programs. This is because the changes reflect current practice.

Is anything missing from the revised ICF CCM?

I was surprised to see that there was no mention of the coach needing to be flexible in their use of different platforms for coaching.  That is, flexibility in coaching via: the phone, over web-based platforms and face to face.  We think that modern coaching needs to demonstrate this flexibility.  This practice is now specifically built into our Certificate IV in Workplace and Business Coaching (10535NAT).

Having said that, the flexibility could be implied within the ICF CCM. For example in the competency Cultivate Trust and Safety.  Or alternatively, perhaps this is was not a significant data point.

When will the changes come into affect? 

Coach training programs compliance:  The ICF requires coach training programs to be integrating the CCM by 2021.  Consequently, all training materials require updating by 2021.  For Open Door our deadline falls in mid-2021. When the time comes, we will be providing the required evidence of the integration as part of our renewal processes.

However, we are planning to complete our integration process by February 2020. This is one full year ahead of the deadline.  This is because we are currently undertaking re-accreditation processes. As a result, we can take advantage this process of continuous improvement.

What does it mean to your credential?

Coaches applying for new credential:  ICF Credentialing will be rolling out the assessment of credentials in early 2021.  Consequently, coaches applying for a credential from 2021 will need to reflect the new competencies.

Existing credentialed coaches:  For people with existing credentials, there are no new requirements at this point. That’s right – nothing to do.

Changes reflect the growth and practice of workplace coaching

In summary, Open Door is supporting the changes to the ICF CCM.  The changes are reflecting the growth and practice of organisational coaching. Furthermore, we are meeting the revised requirements through our ACTP and CCE programs.  Therefore, we congratulate the ICF on the initiative to update the CCM.  And we are looking forward to continuing with you at the forefront of coaching professionalism.

Click here to download the new competency frameworks.