What is the potential and how does it affect sharing with no attachment?

quality coaching Jan 12, 2021
Giuseppe Totino MCC ICF Experienced Credentialing Mentor Coach - Blog - Core Competency 7.11_Additional Requirements to share with competence - Part 1 -1200x627

Why is this important? 

To show competence in Core Competency 7.11. This blog post is the third in a series where we explore how to demonstrate competence in C.C. 7.11, regarding how a coach can share thoughts, feelings, opinions, observations, etc. In this post, we focus on the meaning of the word ‘potential’. See also an earlier post to examine whether a coach can share the coach’s thinking, opinions, and observations.


In brief: 

Coaches are usually great communicators. A coach satisfies Core Competency 7.11’s requirement of ‘having the potential’ when a coach builds the sharing out of what the client offers, including using the client’s language. When applying for an ICF credentialing, my advice is to customize questions and observations frequently and extensively with what the client presents, including using the client’s words and expressions idioms and speech figures like metaphors. 



The 2020 Sub-Core Competency 7.11 provides that the coach’s sharing must “have the potential to create new learning for the client”. Sub-Competency does not contain an explanation of the meaning of ‘potential’. So how can a coach meet this requirement?



In the context of this sub-competency, potential refers to the purpose of the coach’s sharing and its form. We will discuss the purpose in part 2 of this blog post. 


What about the form? 

Simply put, the coach must be responsive. The coach needs to show the ability to offer the client observations, thoughts, and opinions built out of what the client presents. 

Being responsive is a primary coaching topic that we will cover extensively in future blog posts.

For this post’s purpose, it is important to note how a coach needs to connect to, consider, and use what the client presents, including some client’s language, words, and expressions. See more below.

A coach must demonstrate that the coach is present and connected to what the client presents, confirming that the coach’ sharing is the result of being in the moment, in this session (or across several sessions), and that the response relates to what the client presented. That is one key aspect of the meaning of ‘potential’.

Opposite to this is when a coach either offers standard observations or leans towards teaching, consulting, or mentoring to support the client’s exploration. Worse than this is when the coach leads the client to the coach’s way of thinking or viewpoints. Evidence of such behaviors and intentions would negatively impact an assessor’s competence evaluation in the assessment process.

Below are some examples of what a client presents that a coach can consider using when building the coach’s sharing in response to what a client presents:


  • The actual words the client uses;
  • The style of the client’s speech, including the client’s tone of voice;
  • The client’s idioms and speech figures, like metaphors or symbols;
  • The client’s frame of reference, thinking, or feeling.


How much of what a client says should the coach use?

It is not about quantity, and sub-competency 7.11 contains no reference to amounts. Equally, no human can remember every single word heard.

More importantly, the potential, in the context fo sub-competency 7.11, is about the quality of the connection that the coach can establish with a client and how the coach can show that level of connection by being responsive to what the client presents and using any meaningful amount of what the client presents, including - but not limited to - the client’s language and expressions. 


How about applying for credentialing?

Our suggestion is to make it easy for an ICF assessor to collect evidence that the coach builds any sharing from what the client presents. While there is no prescribed way to show competence here, my recommendation is to make it straightforward for the assessor. My favorite way is to use some actual client’s words and speech figures so that an assessor can readily determine that the applicant coach connects to the client and show competence in this competency area by satisfying the ‘potential’ component. 


Are there variances among ACC, PCC, and MCC to consider?

Yes! There are.


  • For the ACC Coach: the coach effectively uses the client’s language and learning models, attending to the client’s agenda.
  • For the PCC Coach: (2020 PCC Markers): the coach may hear and connect more to the client’s story, commonly known as the client’s ‘WHAT’, and may show some competence hearing the client’s ‘WHO’ as well.
  • For the MCC Coach: the coach should hear and connect at a deeper level, commonly known as the client’s WHO.


We will clarify WHO vs. WHAT in a later post.


In earlier posts, we have established that a coach can share observations, feelings, thoughts, insights, etc. (see earlier blog post) and that a coach needs to show no attachment to what the coach is sharing. We have now clarified how to satisfy one additional requirement set forth by the ICF Sub Core Competency 7.11: the ‘potential’. In part two of this blog post, we will look at the purpose of the sharing postulated in C.C. 7.11 and explore the final crucial C.C.7.11’s requirement: ‘to create new learning’. 

Reference Material: 2019 ICF Core Competencies, 2020 PCC Markers, ICF Minimum Skills Requirements


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