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Heart Coach Institute

Gaye Kuelson, PCC  •  April 25, 2022 • 5 Minute Read

What is a Coaching Mindset?

As we are now moving towards using the Updated ICF Core Competencies model and PCC Markers, I will dedicate one edition to each of the 8 competencies, every month. This month we will start with the newest competency, number two:

2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset
Definition: Develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered



1.    Acknowledges that clients are responsible for their own choices

At the very beginning of every coaching relationship, we educate and encourage our clients to come to each session, ready with their own topic to discuss and explore. This is enabling the client to maintain and manage the coaching session for their own benefits. It also highlights to the client that they are responsible for their own choices, results and outcomes from the coaching process. Also, when the conversation comes head on towards a crossroad, we ask the client which path they choose to continue along.

2.    Engages in ongoing learning and development as a coach

As all of you have demonstrated with our individual mentoring sessions, that you value and invest in your own growth and development. Being open and willing to find your areas of development and actively seeking ways and methods to be more effective, highlights your embodiment of a coaching mindset.

3.    Develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one’s coaching

Some elements of our mentoring sessions provided the opportunity for you to reflect on your coaching practice and the impacts of some coaching conversations on you. Your reflective practice is a time that you can let go and find yourself and ponder on past sessions and ask – How was that for me? and How was that for my client?

4.    Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others

As coaches and as with our clients, we are members of a multitude of systems, some of which are influenced by culture and context. Competency 4: Cultivates Trust and Safety, strongly interconnects here with the PCC Markers 4.1, 4.3 and 4.4. Theses markers encourage the coach to acknowledge and respect their client’s unique talents and insights as well as supporting their individual expression of thoughts and ideas. The coach is also encouraged to invite and accept their client’s responses without attachment.

This also highlights the importance of meeting our clients where they currently are in their life: being the milestone on their journey, their understanding of a situation, or their present feelings or emotions. We can better support our clients in these moments by inviting deeper reflection and exploration through our questions.


5.    Uses awareness of self and one’s intuition to benefit clients

Being mindful of our phrasing and choice of words when sharing our observations with clients, helps them gain the benefit of our intuition. Here, asking permission or seeking clarification is the way to proceed. Avoid insisting your view is fact or ‘putting words into your client’s mouth’ and instead ask – Do I have that correct? or Please correct me if I’m wrong. As always, if you are unsure, or don’t understand, then ask the client to clarify for you to ensure your own bias is not impacting your perception of the conversation.

6.    Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions

Generally, as a coach, your presence during a session is most effective when it’s fairly level or neutral. This enables you to remain objective and avoid being drawn into the client’s story or emotional responses.

What happens to you, if you discover you have been strongly triggered in a session, which takes you away from your clear focus on your client? Firstly, consider what does trigger you and evokes a high emotional reaction for you. Knowing your triggers (before they appear in a coaching session) helps you to be able to quickly recognize that this is a sensitive subject for you. A process that works for me, which takes but a second, is to acknowledge the trigger in my mind, and then ‘park’ it to the side. I can then later go back after the session and deal with any issues that may have arisen for me.

7.    Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions

An idea you may wish to consider is to have an opening ritual that will prepare you for your session. This may include giving yourself some space to transition from your last task into the coaching mindset and put on your coaching hat. Taking time to ensure you have all you need for the session so you can remain calm and professional and you feel settled in your role.

Following the session, you may also consider having a closing ritual to support you in reflection upon the aspects that went well and if there is anything you may have done differently next time.

8. Seeks help from outside sources when necessary

During our coach training, much effort was made in ensuring, we as students, clearly understood the difference between coaching, therapy and other modalities of support. This was to ensure we could identify when a client may need other expertise, and how to approach this conversation with them. So, I think we are clear on this aspect.

Another facet of seeking outside help, can be for us as coaches. There are times we have challenges with specific situations or clients that we don’t quite know how to deal with them or proceed further. An option available to us, is Coaching Supervision, which can be experienced individually or as a group, to discuss coaching challenges. As you all have experienced, bringing these cases to your mentoring conversations is extremely useful to reflect or find strategies to support you to move forward.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this competency, as I’d love to receive them. If there is anything you’d like included in future editions, again let me know.

Sharing these mentoring moments with you,

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