Coach Competencies for an Integrated Learning Approach

Who is the client?

The coaching contract clarifies who the client is, the other relevant stakeholders, and the sponsor. For one-to-one executive coaching, the client is the executive entering the engagement; for team coaching, the client is the team as a whole. A team comprises individual team members with different roles and responsibilities. The team coach does not favor one team member over another or take sides. Individual team members might share their views or opinions with the team coach. However, the team coach does not disseminate information shared in confidence and does not act as an intermediary between members concerning interpersonal issues.

The team coach might point to growth opportunities and raise awareness of effective group behaviors using directive interventions when he sees appropriate, pointing out interactional dynamics, and introducing ways to move forward. Directive interventions should broaden the team’s perspective on their current situation. Whenever a facilitative approach could achieve the same end, facilitating rather than directing should prevail.

Self-management for the team coach

The team coach is not a neutral observer but an active agent of positive growth and change, entering a live and dynamic group environment and thus becoming part of the interactional dynamics, even if only temporarily. The professional coach identity should be mindful and discerning about how he is emotionally influenced and shaped by the group dynamics and how he influences and shapes the group members’ behaviors, interaction patterns, choices, and power dynamics.

Establishing and maintaining agreements

Agreements in one-to-one coaching include issues about what is and is not appropriate in the engagement, what is and is not being offered, and the responsibilities of the client and relevant stakeholders; guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching such as logistics, fees, scheduling, duration, termination, confidentiality, and inclusion of others. The coach partners with the client to establish an overall coaching plan and goals, with input from relevant stakeholders; to determine client-coach compatibility; to identify or reconfirm what the client wants to accomplish in the session; to define or reconfirm success measures for the engagement or individual session; to define what the client needs to address to achieve the session goal; to manage the session time and focus; to coach toward the client’s desired outcome; to end the coaching engagement, honoring the experience.

Cultivating trust and safety

Teams thrive when members freely contribute their knowledge, skill, and abilities within defined role boundaries and responsibilities. Speaking freely in team meetings to share personal feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, hopes, and suggestions should be a naturally accepted behavior without any hidden remedies. Building safety should be a collective responsibility. Rules and norms help a team to be more productive and self-sufficient.

Conflicts are dealt with constructively and swiftly. Communication between members should be direct. The coach redirects any communications to the team when members form communication triangles with the coach.

Active listening

Perspectives shared by each team member relate to other members’ views and the emerging dialogue. To improve team performance, members should be aware of behavior and communication patterns that enable or hinder engagement, creative meaning flow, innovation, shared understanding, problem-solving, focus, and momentum.

Diversity in meaning-making may require more active listening, such as summarizing, paraphrasing, bottom-lining, clarifying questions and inquiries, and asking for concrete examples.

Facilitating client growth

In a one-to-one engagement, the coach partners with the client from start to session close, focused, observant, and empathetic. They design goals, actions, and accountability measures that integrate and expand new learning, always acknowledging and supporting client autonomy. The coach supports the client in identifying potential learning results from action steps and invites the client to consider how to move forward, including resources, support, and barriers. The client summarizes learning and insight within and between sessions and celebrates progress and successes with the coach and their community.