Coach drinking Japanese Green Tea

Have I Got What It Takes To Be an ICF Coach?

Mar 12, 2024 | Becoming a Coach FAQ

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where colleagues, family, or friends turn to you for advice, support, or guidance? Maybe you hold a natural inclination to motivate others, or you have a knack for helping people unlock their potential. If you resonate with these scenarios, perhaps you’ve wondered, “Do I have what it takes to be a coach?”

Unlike what people think, coaching is not mentoring or giving advice. It involves working with individuals or groups to achieve their own goals and find solutions and means to achieve them.

So what does it take to be a great coach? 

The ICF explores foundational aspects of being a coach as part of their coaching competencies. Part of these competencies includes a component called “Embodying a Coaching Mindset.” 

Definition of Embodying a Coaching Mindset: A coach who develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible and client-centered.

In our ICF coach certification programme, we believe that a great coach is someone who embodies a coaching mindset and is curious about the client. 

What is a coaching mindset and what makes a great coach? 

Let’s jump deeper into the essential elements of a coaching mindset and explore if you resonate with these competencies.  

A great coach… 

(1) Don’t take control of the outcome. They acknowledge client responsibility

Have you ever met someone who problem solves whenever you share a problem? You might think they’re coaching you, but that’s not what ICF coaches do. In ICF coaching, we believe that clients are in charge of their own decisions and actions. 

As coaches, our job is to guide them in figuring out their goals, what’s important to them, and what obstacles they face. We respect their independence and encourage them to take control of their journey. This creates a partnership based on trust and respect, where clients feel confident to grow and learn about themselves, and also allows clients to take ownership of their outcomes. 

(2) Engages in ongoing learning and development

Powerful coaches understand that learning is a lifelong process. They continuously seek to enhance their knowledge, skills, and techniques through ongoing learning and professional development. Whether through formal training workshops, coaching supervision groups, coaches remain committed to staying on top of the latest trends and best practices in coaching methodologies.

This commitment not only enriches their own skills and competitive edge but also ensures that they can better support their clients in navigating complex challenges and achieving their goals.


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(3) Develops reflective practice

Reflection is a powerful tool. To deepen your coaching skills, it’s important to understand your coaching style, strengths, and areas for improvement. Coaches with the right mindset will critically examine their interactions with clients and start refining the approach, identify patterns, and areas they can work on. Some will even join coaching supervision groups to help them deepen their reflection. 

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

We’re all different, and it’s important to understand and respect that. Being patient and caring toward others is really important. The environment we grow up in and the culture we belong to greatly impact how we think, act, and dream. 

Coaches understand this influence on both themselves and their clients. By welcoming diversity and making everyone feel included, coaches create a space where clients can freely share their thoughts and feelings. This helps clients feel respected, valued, and confident to explore their own backgrounds and viewpoints.

(5) Has great self-awareness and intuition.

Has anyone told you that you always know what questions to ask when they’re stuck? You might have a high sense of intuition. Self-awareness is the foundation of effective coaching. By being self-aware, coaches will be able to connect authentically with their clients and guide them on their journey of self-discovery. By tuning into their intuition and trusting their instincts, coaches can offer insightful observations, ask powerful questions, and facilitate meaningful breakthroughs that bring clients towards their desired outcomes.

(6) Regulates their emotions well

There’s a common saying: “You can’t help others unless you help yourself.” While this holds true in some situations, especially regarding emotional regulation, it’s particularly important in coaching. Just picture coaching a client and suddenly feeling emotional or sensitive because of what they say.

Coaching can evoke a wide range of emotions for both coaches and clients. Effective coaches develop and maintain the ability to regulate their emotions by remaining calm, empathetic, and present in the face of challenges or setbacks. By fostering a supportive and non-judgmental atmosphere, coaches create space for clients to explore their emotions, gain clarity, and move forward with confidence.

(7) Seeks support when needed

Even the most seasoned coaches encounter challenges or uncertainties in their practice. Great coaches are not afraid to seek help from outside sources, whether through mentorship, supervision, or peer coaching. By humbly acknowledging their limitations and embracing a growth mindset, coaches can continually evolve and refine their craft, ultimately benefiting both themselves and their clients.

To sum up.. 

Adopting a coaching mindset is a journey that needs dedication, to be humble, and really wanting the client to grow at their own pace. By being open, curious, flexible, and always putting the client first, coaches can help people make big changes and reach their full potential. So do you have what it takes to become an ICF coach? Browse our guide to learn how you can become an ICF coach.

If you’re interested in specialising in any of the above, we train leaders to become great executive coaches and introduce frameworks and models they can use.  Find out more about our Level 1 and Level 2 ICF trainings.

Who are we?

Learn more about Bailey Balfour, who we are, our values, and how 22 years of executive coaching experience inspired our acclaimed IFC accredited training programmes. Meet our faculty and discover why you might like to learn with us.

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One of the most effective ways to decide whether our programme is the best for you is to experience a short taster – to see what you could expect and get a feel for the different elements of our courses including mentor coaching, our self-directed resources and our learning system. You can enjoy this taster at your own pace at any time so register now.

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Having a call with Jean Balfour, our programme director, can help answer questions about our pathways in a way that is relevant to you. How will you fit it in around your schedule? How will it speak to your existing role? How could it enhance your skillset for the future in your career? Why is accreditation important? Schedule a call with Jean and answer these questions and take the next step in enrolling.

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Making Sense of Work Podcast

How’s Work at the Moment? We all work – and yet we often struggle with work. Even very ambitious people find parts of work difficult. This podcast is for you if you’d like to build a new and better relationships with your working life. Join Jean Balfour and guests as they explore everything to do with our working lives, starting with how do we find our purpose, how do make sense of our organisations and what major movements are we seeing in the workplace today?

Jean Balfour ICF Accredited Professional Coach and Managing Director of Bailey Balfour

Jean Balfour

Founder & Programmes Director


About the Author

Jean Balfour is Managing Director of Bailey Balfour and Programme Director of our ICF Accredited Coach Training Programmes. Jean is passionate about helping people to have good conversations both at work and at home. She believes that coaching is a life skill and that you never regret learning to coach.

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