What makes for a great life coach?

When we’re on the journey to find a coach to help us navigate some of life’s challenges, what should we look for to make sure that we have found a great one? The International Coaching Federation (ICF, 2021) lists the core competencies for coaches. Competencies are the skills and knowledge that coaches need to help their clients reach their full potential. According to ICF (2021), coaches should be able to: 

Establishes a foundation in their coaching work with clients 

1. Demonstrates Ethical Practice - Understands and consistently applies coaching ethics and standards of coaching. 

2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset - Develops and maintains an open, curious, flexible, and client-centered mindset. 

Co-Creating the Relationship 

3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements - Partners with the client and relevant stakeholders to create clear agreements about the coaching relationship, process, plans, and goals. Establishes agreements for the overall coaching engagement as well as those for each coaching session. 

4. Cultivates Trust and Safety - Partners with the client to create a safe, supportive environment that allows the client to share freely. Maintains a relationship of mutual respect and trust. 

5. Maintains Presence - Is fully conscious and present with the client, employing an open, flexible, grounded, and confident style. 

Communicating Effectively 

6. Listens Actively - Focuses on what the client is and is not saying to fully understand what is being communicated in the context of the client systems and to support client self-expression.

7. Evokes Awareness - Facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor, or analogy. 

Cultivating Learning and Growth 

8. Facilitates Client Growth - Partners with the client to transform learning and insight into action. Promotes client autonomy in the coaching process. 

Understanding and applying these competencies is crucial to being a successful coach. These outlines lead a coach to optimal effectiveness, which helps their clients lead productive and satisfying lives. 


International Coaching Federation. (2021). Code of ethics. Retrieved from https://coachingfederation.org/code-of-ethics