Center for Coaching Certification

Coaching for Diversity

A go-to in many organizations when it comes to diversity is training.  How successful has it been?  Clearly the impact is limited.  Just as coaching has a greater impact on results for change, coaching is the logical choice when it comes to expanding and supporting diversity. Coaching for Diversity

There is now yet another call for diversity and it is an opportunity to make the same mistake, limit the initiatives to training, or an opportunity to ensure long-term meaningful impact with coaching because it works.

The research makes coaching the obvious go-to for diversity.  The challenge is that it is a new go-to.  Let’s set aside all the research and take a look at the very simple logic:

  • When someone goes to a training program, they are done when they walk out the door. That means they will most likely revert make to their previous habits and process.
  • When someone goes to a training program, whether or not they are inspired they will be limited by the status quo.
  • Training is designed by someone else and so there is a lack of investment or ownership in the information.
  • Coaching means being challenged to think and reflect on meaning and impact. That means there is awareness and understanding.
  • Coaching means developing strategies to move past obstacles and create meaningful change.
  • Coaching means individual design their own action plans and accountability, and thus own the outcome so they follow-through. 

Important notes:

  • When using coaching for diversity, ensure each coach has completed coaching certification and is at a minimum a member of the International Coaching Federation, ICF, and ideally credentialed by the ICF to ensure they are qualified and bound by the Code of Ethics.
  • As a best practice, develop internal coaches for entry to mid-level employees by using external training.
  • Bring in external coaches for the highest levels of management.

For a free white paper on Starting and Running an Internal Coaching Program, visit


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Coaching Skills for Leaders

There is a reason that coaching is now seen as a core competency of leaders.  The Core Competencies of a coach are skills that serve leaders well.  To simplify, during coaching certification, people skills, communication skills, thinking, motivation, goal setting, and planning are developed.  To build on that, consider this table with the 8 Core Competencies of a coach and notes on how they add value:

ICF Core Competencies













When you go further and read the full text of the Core Competencies of a coach at, the power of coaching as a skill for leaders is even more obvious.

Great leaders are the ones that care about others and believe in their abilities.  Coach training supports becoming a great leader.

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Leader, Mentor, Coach

The three terms: leader, mentor, and coach, are often used interchangeably and this creates confusion.  These are each very different. Leader, Mentor, Coach

At a leader is defined, among other things, as a person who has commanding authority or influence.

At a mentor is defined as a trusted counselor or guide.

At coaching is defined as partnering with Clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential and an ICF Professional is defined as individuals who represent themselves as an ICF Member or ICF Credential-holder, in roles including but not limited to Coach, Coach Supervisor, Mentor Coach, Coach Trainer, and Student of Coaching.

What are the similarities?  Each sees themselves in a position that makes a difference.  Each offers support albeit in different ways.  Each has or is intentionally gaining experience in their role.

What are the differences?  A leader sets the vision.  A mentor supports a vision.  A coach supports creating a vision.  A leader directs.  A mentor advises.  A coach asks questions so that an individual finds their own direction.  A leader is developed.  A mentor evolves.  A coach is trained in specific competencies.

What is the value of each?

  • A leader is at the head, sets the vision, and gives direction.
  • A mentor shares their wisdom and insight, plus helps with connections.
  • A coach is an equal partner with a process for discovering possibilities, expanding thinking, and strategizing change.

A thought: in your own personal development you are well served to have great leaders followed by great mentors then ultimately great coaches to maximize your potential.


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Creating a Balanced Life

What is a balanced life?  What a fun question to explore!  During the initial coach training class, we practice exploring what a client wants in all different areas of their life.  From there the client is empowered to identify priorities, consider the time they want for various interests, and how specifically they want to use their time.  The client is invited to also consider how they want to be as a person. Creating a Balanced Life

Remember that as a coach, it is essential we find our balance too so that we are fully present for clients.  So, for both self-reflection and with a client, here are questions to explore:

  • What does balance mean to you?
  • What is the right balance for you now?
  • What are your influencing factors?
  • What are your competing priorities?
  • What are your strategies for balance?
  • What might interfere?
  • How will you set and maintain healthy boundaries?
  • What are your resources for balance?
  • Who is your support network for balance?
  • What is your action plan?
  • How will you hold yourself accountable for your own self-care?

Another tool from coaching certification is to have the client describe their ideal outcome.  Invite the client to consider in turn what they will see, hear, feel, smell, and taste.  The more detailed the description the more real the possibility and the stronger the motivation to achieve.



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The How of What? When? How?

How will we determine our priorities for change?

Priorities come from meaning, circumstances, barriers, opportunities, and passion.  There are as many sets of priorities as there are individuals.  What are the common priorities?  How will we determine what to work on together?  How will we create change?

Coaches partner to define and choose priorities.

  • What do you want? What else?
  • How do you prioritize what you want?
  • Which of your priorities are for you specifically?
  • Which of your priorities are shared with others?
  • Which priorities do you want to start with?

How will we influence change?

Influencing change starts with an awareness of where we have influence and where we can create influence.

Coaches partner for goal setting and strategizing.

  • What are your goals for influencing change?
  • Where do you have influence now?
  • Where can you build your influence?
  • How will you use your influence for positive change?

How will we work together for change? The What of What? When? How?

Recognizing that we each have a responsibility for individual action and that we have opportunities to collaborate for a bigger impact is a start.  Please note: individual action will mean very different things to different people.  Collaboration is an opportunity and while we want more collaboration the choice to engage is individual.  When the choice to collaborate for change is made, we strategize and then we move to action.

Coaches partner for action planning and meaningful change.

  • What are the opportunities for collaboration?
  • How will each engage in the collaborative effort?
  • How will each be supported?
  • What is the thinking behind the strategy?
  • What are the specific steps to make it happen?
  • What might get in the way?
  • What are the resources?
  • How will we work together to move it forward?
  • How will we manage accountability?
  • How will we acknowledge progress and successes?
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The When of What? When? How?

When will we begin to understand?

While many of us wish we had the ability to change history, what we can focus on now is the present and the future.  Awareness is increasing.  Understanding is growing.  Now is when we can continue that trend and support change. The What of What? When? How?

Coaches partner for understanding.

  • What is your understanding of the history of racism?
  • How does the history of racism impact you today?
  • What do you want to do with your understanding?
  • Where do you want to engage in the conversation?
  • When do you want to choose not to engage?
  • How will you take care of yourself?

When will we insist on change?

The risk now is of going back to old ways of thinking and doing.  With awareness and understanding, we must insist on change.  It is morally and ethically clear that what has been is wrong and what will be must be different.

Coaches partner to strategize change.

  • Where do you want to get involved in change?
  • How do you want to be involved?
  • How will you approach your involvement?
  • How will you balance your involvement with your self-care?

When will we start creating change?

From the present forward is what we can control.  Now is when we insist on creating change.  Change can be individual, and change can be collective.  What change do we want?  Systemic change and individual change.

Coaches partner to create change.

  • What is the change you want to see?
  • What else do you want to see changed?
  • How do you feel about the possibilities?
  • How do you see yourself engaging in change?
  • When do you want to engage?
  • Where do you want to engage in change?
  • How committed are you to change now?
  • How committed are you to staying engaged in creating change?
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The What of What? When? How?

What are we witnessing?

Where to even begin with this question?  A world pandemic.  Worldwide protesting.  Social injustice.  A new way. Emotions.  Conflicts.  Connections.  Loss.  Opportunity.  Fear.  Hope.  The same old same old.  Something different.  Hate.  Love.  Ignorance.  Budding awareness.  Separation.  Solidarity.  Change.  And more. The What of What? When? How?

Coaches partner with clients to reflect, experience and choose.

  • What are you noticing about the pandemic?
  • What are you noticing about the violence?
  • What are you noticing about what is happening?
  • How do you want to process what you are seeing?
  • What do you want to gain from reflecting?
  • How will your insights serve you moving forward?

What are we experiencing?

Much like the question above, the range of experiences resulting from what we are witnessing is both broad and deep. Thoughts and emotions are all over the place.  Add to that with the range of life experiences leading up to today and there is an even wider range of perceptions and impact.

Coaches partner to learn from experiences for awareness moving forward.

  • How are you experiencing the pandemic?
  • How are you experiencing the rioting?
  • What are you feeling?
  • What are you thinking?
  • How do you want to sit with the experiences?
  • What do you want to gain from the experiences?
  • What are you learning from your experiences?
  • How will you use what you are learning?

What does it mean?

The meaning of what is seen, felt, and experienced is unique for each person.  We can be aware that it is different for everyone, be open and accepting to different perceptions and realities.

Coaches partner with clients to discover insights and personal application of meaning.

  • What does what you are seeing and experiencing mean to you?
  • How do you want to be with the meaning?
  • What do you want to gain from this?
  • How will you use your awareness and insights?


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Cultural Bios

Some of you are familiar with cultural bios and for others the idea is new.  What is a cultural bio?  It is a verbal or written description of you that includes how you define yourself in terms of class, gender, ethnicity, race, culture, family, career, and more.  It means being vulnerable in sharing which in turn creates safety for others to be vulnerable in sharing. Cultural Bios

At is a great article on writing a cultural bio.  At › standard4 › EDF2555_assign is an assignment used in schools for writing a cultural bio and interviewing someone who is different.

What are the reasons for cultural bios?

The Pros:

  • Invites Connection
  • Indicates Open Acceptance
  • Supports Rapport
  • Demonstrates Awareness
  • Opportunity to Share Who You Are
  • Helps Others Share

The Cons:

  • It can be a risk.
  • Fear of misunderstanding.
  • Some feel it is overdone.

When and where are cultural bios used?  In social media, on websites, and during introductions, a cultural bio can be a fabulous tool for a coach to put themselves out there and invite connections.

During coach training some schools start with cultural bios and others use them later on the coaching journey when there is a comfort level amongst colleagues in the coaching certification program.

When and where do you recommend cultural bios be used?


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Resisting and Becoming

During the ACTO 2020 conference two questions were posed:

  1. What are you resisting?
  2. What are you becoming?

The power of reflecting on these two questions is amazing.

Throughout the world and certainly throughout the coaching profession there are many conversations around the ethics of diversity and inclusion.  If we resist engaging on this topic, what are we becoming?  How can we effectively engage and support? Resisting and Becoming

Tim Wise has a great article at and in his Code of Ethics for White Anti-Racists gives 10 suggestions for stronger solidarity.  He talks about acknowledging privilege, developing and deepening connections, being ready to change how we do things, develop accountability structures, give credit for the source of knowledge, share access and resources, donate, get involved, connect our work with our beliefs, practice self-care.

Ibram X. Kendi wrote a wonderful book (reviewed in this blog previously) that provides additional insight and awareness, How to Be an Antiracist.

What are the key takeaways for coaches, coach trainers, and those participating in coach training?  Learn more about diversity.  Seek to understand your clients, their culture, and how they have been and are impacted by biases – theirs and those of others.  Seek to be aware of personal biases and how they show up.  Be aware and learn so that we can be culturally sensitive and ensure we effectively support clients.


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Center Commonalities and Differences

At the ACTO 2020 conference, one phrase that was said stood out as a real opportunity: Center Commonalities AND Center Differences.  What does this mean?  Reflect on things we all have in common from basic needs to desires and more.  Then think about ways we are different and how our differences bring value and interest and insight.  How can we support centering on both commonalities and differences? Center Commonalities and Differences

During the initial coaching certification class, we talk about different thought patterns.  One of the pairs of thought patterns we discuss is Sameness / Difference.  If someone uses a sameness thought pattern, they focus first on what is the same.  For the difference thought pattern, the focus is on what is different.  In class, we discuss meeting the client where they are at with their thought pattern and then expanding their thinking with the other.

What are the reasons for centering on both commonalities and differences?  Centering on commonalities is part of developing a relationship and building rapport.  Centering on differences is an opportunity to be curious, show respect, and learn.

The more we each recognize that we do have commonalities the more we are open and accepting of everyone.  The more we center on differences the more we learn and the more we respect others.

One of the many joys involved in coach training is how so many completely different people from completely different places and cultures come together, engage, connect, and build amazing relationships.


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