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Heart Coach Institute

Heart Coach Institute Director of Education

Gaye Kuelsen, PCC • February 7, 2023 • 6 Minute Read

Delving into the PCC Markers

The Updated ICF Core Competency Model is fundamental and reflect the vital requirements to be included in today’s coaching practices.  In effect, the PCC Markers provide the specific behaviours that need to be demonstrated to provide the evidence that a coach possess the capability in a core competency.  The PCC Markers are a useful reference for all coaches that can support them in their professional growth and development.

Competency 1: Demonstrates Ethical Practice 

Familiarity with the ICF Code of Ethics and its application is required for all levels of coaching. Successful PCC candidates will demonstrate coaching that is aligned with the ICF Code of Ethics and will remain consistent in the role of coach. 

Interestingly, Competency 1: Demonstrates Ethical Practice, does not have any associated PCC Markers.  Though keep in mind the ICF Core Values which include:

  • Professionalism – We commit to a coaching mindset and professional quality that encompasses responsibility, respect, integrity, competence and excellence.
  • Collaboration – We commit to develop social connection and community building.
  • Humanity – We commit to being humane, kind, compassionate and respectful toward others.
  • Equity –We commit to use a coaching mindset to explore and understand the needs of others so we can practice equitable processes at all times that create equality for all.

Our day-to-day interactions with our clients and stakeholders, can be guided by these core values which ensures we are following the intended path in our coaching practice.  What does being a professional coach mean for you?  Personally, acting and making decisions that align with my values of integrity, generosity and contribution, is very important to me. Symbolically, ethics is the rainbow that overarches all that I say and do in business.

Competency 2: Embodies a Coaching Mindset 

Embodying a coaching mindset—a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centred—is a process that requires ongoing learning and development, establishing a reflective practice, and preparing for sessions. These elements take place over the course of a coach’s professional journey and cannot be fully captured in a single moment in time. However, certain elements of this Competency may be demonstrated within a coaching conversation. These particular behaviours are articulated and assessed through the following PCC Markers: 4.1, 4.3, 4.4, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, 6.1, 6.5, 7.1, and 7.5.

Competency 4: Cultivates Trust and Safety 

4.1: Coach acknowledges and respects the client’s unique talents, insights and work in the coaching process.       

4.3: Coach acknowledges and supports the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs or suggestions. 

4.4: Coach partners with the client by inviting the client to respond in any way to the coach’s contributions and accepts the client’s response. 

A simple analogy for trust and safety is to imagine you as a coach holding a vessel of water in your steady hands.  The vessel is the solid and stable that holds the volume of water, and never allowing any water to spill.  The containment of the water also relates to ensuring strict confidentiality that stays within the coaching session, never leaking out.  During the conversation, the water swirls and moves during the dance of coaching.  Though at times, the water is completely still, when pause, silence and reflection are needed.

Competency 5: Maintains Presence 

5.1: Coach acts in response to the whole person of the client (the who).

5.2: Coach acts in response to what the client wants to accomplish throughout this session (the what). 

5.3: Coach partners with the client by supporting the client to choose what happens in this session. 

5.4: Coach demonstrates curiosity to learn more about the client. 

Curiosity suspends judgement.  That’s an interesting statement!  Curiosity is a desire to continuously learn and understand more.  There is a gentleness and respect at play here, while patiently peeling back the layers during discovery. Judgment on the other hand, allows for limited time to gather information, then like the blow of the judge’s gavel – BOOM! – judgement has been passed, no further details are sought. Both cannot exist simultaneously.

To be open and curious as a coach, indicates to your client, that you participate in the coaching conversation without judgment, or assumption.  In our multicultural world, more than ever we encounter clients from diverse backgrounds and cultures.  Our acceptance and respect for our client’s identity and context is a vital element in today’s practice of coaching. Your open mindset supports your client so they feel safe to discuss sensitive or personal information with you.  Being curious enables you to discover and explore with your client on a deeper level, which we can at times witness the client’s transformation during the coaching process.

Competency 6: Listens Actively 

6.1: Coach’s questions and observations are customized by using what the coach has learned about who the client is or the client’s situation. 

6.5: Coach inquires about or explores how the client currently perceives themself or their world. 

It is such a rarity, for many of us, to have the opportunity to spend an entire hour talking and focusing solely on ourselves.  Our pre-session preparation is not only a gift we give ourselves as coaches to show up at our best, but our clients get the advantage that we are totally client-centred and hold the space and time for them during the conversation. Our preparation enables us to ‘park’ our life and challenges for a while so we can be completely attentive with our clients. Listens Actively, requires us to listen with more than our ears, and to listen with our whole self.  In this capacity, we can detect connections or dissonance as we learn more about the client and their situation.  Often, sharing our observations leads to greater insights for our clients.

Competency 7: Evokes Awareness 

7.1: Coach asks questions about the client, such as their current way of thinking, feeling, values, needs, wants, beliefs or behaviour. 

7.5: Coach shares – with no attachment – observations, intuitions, comments, thoughts or feelings, and invites the client’s exploration through verbal or tonal invitation. 

When we are aware of something, we then have a choice to do something about.  If left to our own devices, we resist changing our habitual thoughts and behaviours. This is why coaching works! With our client’s permission, we can interrupt their automatic behaviours or thoughts.  Greater self-awareness provides our clients with this opportunity for change.  

When my clients understand the Veto Power model, they realise it is possible to change their impulses. Simply explained, there is a lapse of half a second from when the brain picks up a signal to making voluntary movement. A period of 0.3 of a second is the time period between the initial signal and ability to move.  There is a further 0.2 of a second when we have the time to choose how we respond. With focus and attention, we can learn to use this 0.2 of a second to choose avoid impulse and instead choose a response aligned with our values. As a coach, you can help your clients to better understand, the difference between an unhelpful impulse and values-based response.

Don’t leave it to the last minute…is your credential due soon for renewal? If you need mentoring support now or in the future, then please reach out and connect.

Sharing these mentoring moments with you,


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