Center for Coaching Certification

Being and Doing in Core Competencies and PCC Markers

The International Coaching Federation has Core Competencies for coaches.  The competencies are organized into interconnected categories that build on each other.  Within the definitions, descriptions, and measures of these competencies, it is clear that coaches are called upon and expected to work with both the Being and the Doing of the client. Being and Doing in Core Competencies and PCC Markers

The ICF’s PCC Markers define the specific behaviors to demonstrate the competencies.  When a coach applies for a credential with the International Coaching Federation, they are required to submit one recording if applying for the ACC credential, or two recordings if applying for the PCC or MCC credentials.  These recordings are then assessed and passing is based on the coach displaying the behaviors defined by the markers.  Some of the markers specifically call out the Being and the Doing while others imply it.

The first category of competency is the Foundation with two competencies, Demonstrates Ethical Practice and Embodies a Coaching Mindset.  For Ethics competency, the evaluation of the coach recording is a simple pass or fail.  If a coach steps into a role other than coaching, such as advising or therapy, it is a fail.  For the Coaching Mindset competency, the coach is called on to acknowledge that clients are responsible for their own choices.

The second category is Co-creating the Relationship with the competencies of Establishes and Maintains Agreements, Cultivates Trust and Safety, plus Maintains Presence.  The agreement includes the coach’s responsibility to ask the client what they want to accomplish during each session, the significance of it to them, and how they will measure success.  Evaluation of the coach recording for Cultivates Trust includes whether the coach acknowledges and supports the client and encourages them fully expressing themselves.  For Maintains Presence the coach is to respond to the whole person and what they want to accomplish by noticing their energy and empowering them to formulate their own learning.

The third category is Communication with the competencies of Listen Actively and Evokes Awareness.  The listening markers include who the client is and their situation, their use of language, emotions, voice, behaviors, perceptions, and holding the silence so the client can think.  The coach is expected to ask about the emotions, tone, behaviors, and perceptions – both the Being and the Doing.  Demonstrating the Evokes Awareness markers means the coach asks the client about thinking, beliefs, values, wants, and moves the client beyond their current thinking towards their desired outcome.  The coach uses the client’s language to ask open questions in a way that supports the client reflecting and learning.  The coach shares observations and intuitions around what the client is saying, doing, experiencing, or thinking as a tool to support client learning and progress.  The coach has zero attachment to what they share, so the client reflects freely.

The fourth category is Cultivating Client Growth with the competency of Facilitates Client Growth.  The competency specifically calls on the coach to invite the client to reflect on what they are learning about both their situation and about themselves – the Being and the Doing.  The PCC markers call on the coach to check in on progress during the session toward client outcomes, actions to continue their progress, how the client wants to manage accountability, and whether the client is ready to close the session.  The coach is to acknowledge the client.


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Summary of the Approaches

In these examples, each coaching relationship moves Mario forward differently.  Ken pushes toward marketing and sales, Elena pushes toward balancing his relationship and self-care, and Carolina supports open exploration and Mario choosing his career path and his strategy for balancing his priorities. Summary of the Approaches

It seems likely that working with Ken will push Mario to chase a career path he is less interested in while failing to consider the impact on his relationship and self-care.  Working with Elena will limit Mario’s commitment at work which may impact him earning the promotion he wants, although he will maintain his relationship and self-care.  Working with Carolina empowers Mario to choose the career path he wants and to figure out how to maintain his relationship and self-care while investing additional time at work.


Coaching the Being and Doing is called for in ICF’s Core Competencies and Markers, the behaviors to demonstrate competency.

The outcome of the coaching engagement is enhanced and far more effective when the coach understands, embraces and incorporates both the Being and the Doing of the client.  Coaching the Being and the Doing ensures impact, benefit, and being true to the role of coach.

Coaching for only the Doing gets a short-term result.  Coaching for only the Being fails to support practical, proactive action.  Coaching both the Being and the Doing maximizes the benefits of coaching and supports a long-term impact.


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Questions for Coaching the Being and the Doing From the Carolina Coaching Mario Blog

Examples of Questions Carolina Asks: Questions for Coaching the Being and the Doing From the Carolina Coaching Mario Blog

  • Describe yourself.
  • What are your priorities?
  • How does your use of time compare with your priorities?
  • Describe your ideal use of time for your priorities.
  • What do you gain from your work?
  • What are your possible career paths?
  • Describe what you value most about each.
  • What are the pros and cons of each?
  • In turn, imagine pursuing each. Describe moving forward.
  • Which career path do you want?
  • What are the reasons for your choice?
  • What have you done thus far to move you forward?
  • What else will you do?
  • How does taking those action steps feel to you?
  • Describe the outcome you want.
  • Describe your process for earning a promotion.
  • What are you noticing about your process?
  • What are you noticing about yourself?
  • What motivates you?
  • What successes demonstrate your capacity?
  • What skills do you have for the path you choose?
  • What skills do you want to develop?
  • What resources will you use?
  • What does it mean to you to get promoted?
  • How will you excel?
  • What strategies will you implement?
  • What kind of leader do you want to be?
  • What kind of leader are you now?
  • How will you bridge the gap?
  • How will you create teamwork?
  • How will you have a positive impact?
  • What is self-care to you?
  • How do you want to incorporate fitness in your new schedule?
  • What does balance self-care, relationships, and career mean?
  • How will you balance time for work and your relationship?
  • What are you learning through this process?
  • What does your long-term success mean to you?


  • The coaching is tailored to the client.
  • Mario chooses his career path.
  • Mario figures out how to balance increasing work time with his relationship and his self-care.
  • The coaching serves both the Being and the Doing.
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Meet Coach Carolina

Carolina worked in Organizational Development before completing her coach training and becoming a coach.  Carolina works to understand her clients and support their self-awareness.  She works with the client based on who they are, the Being, to develop strategies and plans for their Doing, the what.  She is hired both individually and by organizations.

When Carolina starts a new coaching engagement, she begins with an introductory session to explore coaching, different approaches, and how to best partner for moving the client forward.  With some clients, Carolina helps address immediate concerns before exploring their big picture.  Often she starts with exploring their big picture in all areas and then supports the client to prioritize what they want to focus on during subsequent coaching sessions. Meet Coach Carolina

For the scenario with Carolina coaching Mario, imagine she is invited by his company to do an introductory coaching session to jointly determine if they are a good match; Carolina schedules it with Mario.  They explore briefly what he wants, his ideal outcome, what might get in the way, and how he wants to move forward.  Carolina then asks Mario what he wants from a coaching engagement and how he wants to measure success.  Mario explains he wants to advance his career and he measures success by the coaching supporting his progress.  Carolina asks him what else he wants from the coaching and Mario takes time to consider before sharing several personal goals.  Carolina confirms Mario feels complete in his responses and then asks him about how he wants to work together.  Mario asks about options.

Carolina explains several possible approaches including a big picture exploration of what Mario wants in all areas of his life, assessments, defining opportunities and requirements, evaluating skills, and either planning for all sessions in advance or choosing in the moment what he wants to discuss.  Mario wants to learn more and then think about the choices.  Carolina gives him links to explanations online and schedules a time to meet again.

When they meet again, Carolina asks Mario what he is thinking and feeling.  Mario says he wants to start the coaching and shares he is leaning toward the big picture exploration plus wants the DISC Leadership assessment to understand himself, his priorities, influencing factors, and to discover any conflicts.  Carolina explains how the DISC Leadership assessment works, schedules it, and coordinates the big picture exploration with Mario.  During that session, Carolina asks Mario about what he wants in all areas of his life including his career, financial, relationship, personal, lifestyle, and health goals.  She explores Mario’s ideal outcomes and what it means to him to achieve what he wants.  Carolina also asks Mario how he wants to manage accountability and how he wants to celebrate progress and success.  Carolina supports Mario in using his goals as a tool to maintain his focus and motivation.

For their next coaching session, Carolina asks Mario his thoughts on the assessment process.  She also asks what he wants to gain from the results.  Mario states he wants to better understand himself as a future leader, his weaknesses, and his strengths.  Carolina asks Mario how he intends to take what he learns about himself and apply it moving forward.  Carolina then shares the report results with Mario and asks him to share his thoughts as he reviews the information.  Mario comments on things he expected and on what surprises him.  He identifies the weaknesses he wants to address and the strengths he wants to utilize.  Through exploration and reflection, Mario develops a strategy to be aware and he chooses several specific actions to move forward in his career.

When they meet again, Carolina asked Mario what updates he wants to share.  Mario shares a few highlights of what he is noticing, experiencing, and doing.  Carolina asks Mario what he is learning about himself.  Mario shares how important his career is and that he is thinking about investing more time in work projects for the next six months to advance his opportunities.  Carolina supports Mario in choosing his priorities.  She asks him about his strategies for his career and how he wants to manage what that means for his self-care and his relationship with his girlfriend.  Mario says he is going to talk with his girlfriend about his goals and ask her to help him figure out how to maintain their relationship while he is increasing his efforts at work.  He then talks about little things he is going to incorporate in his workday to maintain his fitness including walking to meetings, stretch breaks, parking further away, and using the stairs instead of the elevator.  She then asks him what he is learning about his situation.  Mario says he realizes that in order to take the next step in his career he must demonstrate his skill in noticeable ways.  He talks about how he is managing his priorities with a short-term increase in work time while maintaining his relationship and self-care.

In their next session, when Carolina invites an update; Mario shares that his girlfriend is being very supportive.  His girlfriend decides to take advantage of the opportunity to take a class she is interested in personally.  His girlfriend also suggests they incorporate fitness into their activities on weekends.  Mario shares that in their open conversations they both talk about spirituality.  Together they discuss options for exploring it further during their weekend time.  Mario explains he is increasing his work hours and because he knows his timeline, he feels good focusing on the long-term gain.


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Questions for Coaching the Being from the Elena Coaching Mario Blog

Examples of Questions Elena Asks:

  • How do you prioritize work, family, and self-care?
  • How do you use your time?
  • How do your priorities align with your use of time?
  • What is meaningful to you about your work?
  • What is meaningful in your relationship?
  • What does self-care mean to you?
  • What if work, family, and self-care are out of balance?
  • What are your motivators to maintain balance?
  • How important is your balance?
  • How does balance help with your career success?
  • How will you maintain balance? Questions for Coaching the Being from the Elena Coaching Mario Blog


  • Deep learning about self.
  • Personal awareness.


  • Starting with assessments before exploring if the client is interested or served by them.
  • Planning for his career.
  • Tangible measures of progress and success.
  • Failing to explore the client’s thoughts for a short-term commitment to longer work hours.
  • Advocating for what the coach thinks is right.


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Meet Coach Elena

Elena has a background in psychology and has been coaching individuals on meaning and purpose for seven years.  She explores who the client is by understanding their history and then moves to explore who they want to be in the future – a focus on the Being.

Elena starts all her coaching relationships with an assessment on personality so she can understand her clients.  She also prefers to give assessments on values and on motivators.  After Elena reviews the results of the assessments, she meets with the client to confirm her impression based on assessment results. Meet Coach Elana

In this scenario, imagine Elena is invited by Mario’s company to schedule an initial meeting and determine if Mario wants her as his coach.  Elena meets with Mario and explains the importance of understanding who he is to know how to work together and move forward.  Elena recommends the DISC, Hartman, EIQ, and the Motivators assessments.  Mario agrees to take all four.  Elena reviews the results and schedules their next meeting.

During the debrief of the assessments, Elena explains the reports and invites Mario to reflect on what he notices.  She continues to ask exploratory questions about him, his values, and his motivators.  Elena then asks Mario where he wants to develop himself.  Mario states he wants to further develop his leadership abilities.  Elena asks about his motivators and how that influences him.  Mario reflects and states he is motivated by supporting and empowering others.  Elena then asks him what motivates him personally, and Mario says relationships and his own fitness.

In their next meeting, Elena invites Mario to talk about himself.  As he talks, she asks for more information about his life, his family, his experiences, and his priorities.  Elena then asks Mario which part of what he shares has the greatest influence in his life.  Mario explains that he is focusing on advancing his career first and ultimately wants to have a balanced life.  Mario talks about work, relationships, family, and his own well-being as elements to consider in defining his balance.  Elena asks Mario about the potential cost of focusing on his career to the exclusion of relationships and balance.  Mario states that for the short-term he anticipates having to tip the scales towards his career so that in the long-term he has the balance.  Elena again asks Mario about the risk.  Mario admits that it might become a new habit to invest more time in his career.

In their next session, Elena asks Mario to share what he had been thinking and feeling.  She asks him what he is learning about himself and his circumstances.  Mario shares that he is engaging in an opportunity to jump into a project for operations and is excited about what he is learning and the new connections he is forging.  Elena congratulates him and then asks about his girlfriend.  Mario shares that things in the relationship are maintaining.  Elena then asks Mario about his self-care.  Mario shares that he is backing off his exercise routine because of the demands of his job.  Elena asks Mario how a lack of self-care will impact his focus and energy level at work.  Mario admits he is feeling sluggish.  Elena asks him how he is going to manage time moving forward to ensure he maintains balance.  Mario hesitates about lessening his efforts in operations because of the importance for earning a promotion.  With nudging from Elena, Mario agrees to leave work by 7 each weekday and by 5 on Saturdays.  He recommits to exercising 30 minutes a day.

When starting in their next coaching session, Elena asks Mario how he is doing with maintaining his balance.  Mario states he is keeping to his commitments and then he expresses his worry that it is limiting his contribution on the project.  Elena asks Mario how his self-care serves him for the long-term and Mario states that he realizes working all the time is unsustainable for the long-term.  He then explains he thinks it will be a worthwhile short-term commitment.  Elena asks him about the risks to his health and his relationship with his girlfriend.  Mario agrees to stick with his current plan.


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Questions for Ken Coaching Mario around Doing

Examples of Questions Ken Asks:

  • What is your motivation for getting promoted?
  • What are the implications of a promotion?
  • How does a promotion now impact long-term opportunities?
  • What are the ways a promotion benefits you?
  • How committed are you to earning a promotion?
  • By when do you want a promotion?
  • What are your best options for a promotion?
  • How will you prepare for a promotion?
  • What actions will you take to move toward a promotion?
  • What stretch assignments will give you visibility?
  • In what ways do you merit a promotion?
  • When interviewing, what achievements will you highlight?
  • What will you say about your skills?
  • What additional learning will be expected?
  • Who are your biggest competitors?
  • How will you stand out from the others?
  • What are the reasons for and against getting the promotion?
  • Describe your transition into a new role.
  • How will you handle challenging employees?
  • How will you communicate with former colleagues that now report to you?
  • How will you organize your new team?
  • What processes do you want to change?
  • How do you want to distribute the workload?
  • Imagine you are successful in your transition. How will you use the additional income? Meet Coach Ken


  • Mario has specific action steps.
  • Mario makes visible progress.


  • Ken directs Mario to a specific assessment before knowing if it serves him.
  • Ken assesses what he thinks is best for Mario.
  • Ken assigns tasks to Mario.
  • Ken fails to explain the difference between an assessment debrief and a coach
  • Ken fails to address Mario’s personal concerns.
  • Ken continually steers Mario in the direction Ken chooses.
  • Ken fails to recognize Mario wants something different.
  • It is more likely Mario will leave for a different opportunity.
  • Ken is functioning outside the parameters of a coach by acting as a consultant.


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Meet Coach Ken

Ken has been coaching executives for over five years.  He is hired by companies to work with their high potential leaders on how to effectively advance through the ranks and to manage people.  Ken focuses on strategy and action planning – the Doing.

Ken starts new coaching engagements by meeting with the supervisor of his client to learn how his client is perceived.  He next meets with HR to identify possible career paths.  Then he meets with the client to determine how the client’s perspective compares with that of his supervisor and with HR. Meet Coach Ken

For this scenario, imagine Mario’s company decides to engage Ken as the coach for Mario.  Ken schedules his standard pre-coaching meetings.  Ken meets with Mario’s supervisor, Lynn, and asks about Mario.  Lynn explains that while Mario is well-liked generally, he lacks leadership training.  Lynn believes that Mario is very personable and effective with mid-level managers and he is not ready to supervise senior leaders.  Next Ken meets with Heather in HR.  Heather explains the company’s internal process for supporting high-potential employees.  This includes a leadership training academy, cross-training, and challenging assignments to build skills.  Heather provides the timelines for the training and examples of stretch assignments.  Ken asks Heather about potential career paths for Mario and learns he can either move into operations management or sales and marketing.  Heather shares there is less interest from other high potentials in marketing and sales.  Based on what he has learned, Ken determines that Mario will be most successful in sales and marketing.

Ken scheduled his first meeting with the client, Mario.  When they met, Ken asked Mario a few questions about his career, skills, and interests.  Ken then suggested Mario complete a Leadership 360 Assessment for the information on how Mario is perceived by others.  He also asked Mario to create a timeline of major milestones in his career thus far, and to create his projection of where his career will go in the future for awareness and planning.

Because Ken is certified in the 360 assessment, he sets it up and administers it.  When the results are tabulated, he schedules a debrief with Mario to review the assessment report and for Ken to provide his analysis of the results.  At the end of the debrief, Ken and Mario schedule their next session.

During the next session, Ken asks Mario a few questions about his career and what he wants.  Mario shares his interest in developing as a leader.  Mario also talks about his desire to develop strong connections plus his interests in projects and teams.  Ken states that he thinks, based on the 360 results and Mario’s interest in connections, the sales and marketing track is best.  Mario is hesitant.  He shares that he had been leaning towards operations and was unsure about sales.  Ken asks Mario to describe what he thought the sales role encompassed.  Ken then suggests that Mario schedule time to shadow someone in sales.  Mario accepts the recommendation.

In their next session, Ken invites Mario to talk about his experience shadowing in sales.  Ken then asks Mario about his process to move forward with the sales and marketing career path.  Mario outlines the actions.  Ken congratulates Mario on his plan.

Mario then says he has something else to discuss.  Ken invites Mario to talk.  Mario explains he is worried that his new boss is pushing him to declare which path he wants, and he is unsure.  He also shares that he does not feel like he clicks with the sales and marketing team.  Ken asks Mario follow-up questions about his perceptions.  Ken asks Mario to focus on his desire to advance his career and explains it means hard work.  Mario agrees to rededicate himself to the effort.

When Ken invites an update in their next session, Mario immediately starts talking about his stress level, lack of time for exercise, and pressure from his girlfriend for a time.

Ken asks Mario about his strategies for managing stress.  Mario shares he tends to direct his own focus to the long-term objectives.  Mario also talks about rest and exercise.  Mario explains his previous exercise routine and then restates he is not keeping up because of time pressures.

Ken invites Mario to explain the time pressures and Mario talks about his workload plus his effort to move into sales and marketing.  Ken asks what options Mario wants to consider.  Mario mentions either backing off on the plan for a move to sales and marketing or even breaking up with his girlfriend.

Ken invites Mario to consider the implications of backing off his long-term plan.  Mario admits he does want to advance his career and decides to talk to his girlfriend instead and tell her to be patient.

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Start With Defining Being and Doing

Being is the who and includes that which cannot be seen or touched.  Being includes openness, bias – both conscious and unconscious, cultural bias, humility, skills, desires, motivation, attitude, awareness, flexibility, knowledge, wisdom, thoughts, reflections, insights, and dreams. Start With Defining Being and Doing

Doing is the what and can be seen or touched.  Doing includes plans, action steps, behaviors, and tasks.

To illustrate this, consider one client experiencing each of three different approaches in coaching: a focus on the Doing, a focus on the Being, and coaching both the Being and the Doing.  After each coaching engagement description, the next blog will be sample questions.  For coaching, consider whether the questions are about the being or the doing and be intentional with when you use each type of question to ensure both are included.

Meet the Client

Mario is a high-potential employee in a large organization.  He has a master’s degree in Business and speaks two languages fluently.  He is moving up through the ranks and wants to be a Senior Vice President of Operations within the next five years.  Mario works out regularly, is health-conscious, and is seeing someone seriously.  He is exploring spirituality and cares about living a healthy, happy, balanced life.

The flow of these blogs will be a description of the client working with one type of coach, then questions typical of that type of coaching.  That will be repeated for the next two types of coaches we are exploring, then we will review in the following blogs.


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The Symbiotic Relationship of Being and Doing

Newly trained and the more seasoned masterful coaches face similar complexities when dealing with clients.  How can a coach balance their own biases and beliefs in service to their clients?

Some coaches use an approach that supports a focus on either being or doing based on who is paying the coach. The Symbiotic Relationship of Being and Doing

Sometimes coaches believe that coaching is all about – and only about – specific goals, strategies, and action steps.  If this is the case, then typically only short-term, limited success is possible.

Sometimes coaches believe that coaching is about problems and they slip into therapy or counseling.  In this case, the potential for causing harm is high and at best the forward progress is limited.

Alternatively, the coach focuses completely – and only – on exploring the inner being, thoughts, values, and purpose.  This creates self-awareness while falling short of action for real change.

When the coaching includes both the being and the doing with a focus on the desired future, then long-term meaningful change that benefits the client is achieved.  How does a coach integrate both the being and doing in their coaching approach?

In this blog series, we will explore the what and the how of coaching both the being and the doing through the story of one client who works with three different types of coaches.


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