Center for Coaching Certification


Strategy is an approach and often includes a plan of action for moving toward a goal. Strategy

About Strategy:

  • Through exploration and questioning learned during coach training, the client prioritizes goals to focus on creating a strategy.
  • The coach asks questions so that the client plans how to overcome barriers to their strategy.
  • The coach partners with the client so they create specific action plans for their strategy.

Strategy is Important Because:

  • Achieving goals requires a defined strategy and action steps.
  • The coach provides a reality check for the client as they develop their strategy.
  • The strategy is a framework on which to act and for checking progress.

Considerations for Strategizing:

  • The client is asked to list barriers to their strategy and decide how to overcome each.
  • The client considers the resources available and desired to support their strategy.
  • The client decides on action steps for their strategy.


  • The client is their own best expert in choosing their strategy for reaching their goals.
  • The coach provides the process to explore, clarify, and strategize.
  • The client owns their outcomes because they choose the strategy.

Coaches work with clients so that they develop their overall strategies and then define specific actions.  The coaching process moves the client forward to create long-term, sustainable, meaningful change


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Communication for Moving Forward

Communication is one area of the four encompassing eleven Core Competencies of a Coach and includes three of the eleven competencies – that makes the importance of communication obvious.  For clients, coaching sessions visibly involve these three areas of communication: listening, direct and respectful language, and questioning.  Coach training programs provide specific tools and techniques for effective communication.

A natural tendency is to compare what is being said with personal experiences or to think about what to say in reply, rather than fully listen.  Since the coaching process is all about the client, specific listening techniques enhance the quality and depth of the listening, thus empowering the client to fully explore and openly share. Communication for Moving Forward

Direct, respectful language is critical.  While many consider themselves to be good communicators, many also consider others to be poor communicators.  70% of the population is primarily passive and 30% is primarily aggressive in communication style. Assertive communication, the use of direct and respectful language, is a learned skill taught in coach training programs.  Specific language and approach influence interactions.

Questioning is an important responsibility of coaches. What, how, and when to ask specific questions is a learned skill.  In good training programs, coaches discuss types of questions and learn how to formulate effective questions.  During coach training, practice coaching sessions using questionnaires provide the opportunity to experience how questions impact the process.  Then as you advance in your training you move beyond questionnaires and ask questions based on what will benefit the client in the moment.


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Moving Forward with Exploration

When a coach understands the client, develops rapport, and communicates effectively, coaching sessions are an ideal opportunity for a client to fully explore their goals and possibilities.  The coach uses their communication skills, primarily listening and effective questioning, to support the client as they explore their goals, desired outcomes, focus, barriers, and strategies. Moving Forward with Exploration

When considering what they want, clients may focus on problems, the past, or circumstances, or to define what they do not want.  A coach works with the client to focus on moving forward by defining what they do want and exploring possibilities.

While many have a few specific goals in mind, full exploration brings out goals a client may have forgotten and goals in the beginning stages of consideration.  A coach starts by simply asking the client, “What do you want?”  The coach listens to the client, noting what they talk about and in what order.  Clients may talk about what is comfortable and easy, or they may explore goals in what they consider their order of priority.  After the client shares what they are thinking, the coach continues exploring possibilities by asking the client questions about what more they want in areas the client addressed and in areas not yet covered.

By taking the time initially to list a broad range of goals, the client is empowered to consider all areas of their life and all types of goals.  The coach works with the client to first create a broad list, then asks questions so the client chooses their priorities.  The broad exploration of goals affords the client the opportunity to really identify what is important and choose what to work on first.

Coaches focus forward, and encouraging the exploration is naturally empowering for the client.


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Coaching Empowers Exploration

Exploration is the process of discovery and/or consideration. During coaching sessions, the coaching process supports clients to explore. Coaching Empowers Exploration

About Exploration:

  • Coaching sessions are an opportunity for a client to explore their goals, ideas, opportunities, and possibilities; this process is empowered with questions asked by the coach.
  • As the client explores, the coach partners with the client to define their focus and prioritize plus learn and apply insights.
  • The coach works with the client to recognize and overcome barriers, consider resources available and wanted, and to solidify buy-in to the value of their success.

Exploration is Important Because:

  • The exploration process serves to create clarity for the client.
  • In considering multiple possibilities, the coach empowers open thinking for the client.
  • Consideration of different possibilities benefits decision making.

Considerations for Exploration:

  • Ensure your coach training covers types of questions and how to formulate questions for effective exploration.
  • Ensure your coach training includes hands-on experience asking questions as a foundation for exploration.
  • Ensure your coach training covers the difference between giving advice and the ability to provide perspective.


  • Practice the coaching process provided in training to explore and list client goals.
  • Ask questions as the client explores the value of their goals.
  • When the client explores the ideal outcome of achieving their goals, they create the reality of success.

During the practicum portion of coaching certification, the exploration based on what a client wants plus exploring their thoughts, reactions, considerations, and more serves them to create meaningful change.


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Communication in Coaching

Communication is an exchange of thoughts and plans through listening, questioning, and clear, direct language.  With rapport, communication is more open, honest, and deep. This empowers the client to use the coach as a sounding board, really explore options, and choose their plan of action. Communication in Coaching

About Communication:

  • The first skill of communication is listening; coach training includes moving past biographical listening or listening to respond so coaches learn active listening, rephrasing, and reflecting.
  • Clear, direct communication is assertive. Assertiveness is a skill only five percent of U.S. citizens have fully developed and use consistently.
  • Coaching questions are unique and powerful.
  • Quality training programs provide insight and tools for coaches to develop effective listening skills, assertive language, and powerful questioning techniques.

Communication is Important Because:

  • The service of a coach is based on effective communication.
  • A top reason for hiring a coach is to have a “sounding board.”
  • Effective communication creates the opportunity to talk through goals, ideas, and strategies, and to analyze outcomes.
  • Communication skills are 3 of the ICF’s 11 core competencies of coaches.

Communication Considerations:

  • Listening, assertiveness, and questioning are learned skills.
  • The choice of words influences focus and outcomes.
  • The skill of the coach serves client skill development.


  • Ensure coach training includes listening, assertiveness, questioning, and learning styles.
  • Consistently practice with intention to continue developing and building communication skills.
  • Use the 3 coaching communication competencies at all times in coaching sessions.

The communication competencies of listening, powerful questioning, and clear, direct communication are the most obvious of the skills to clients in coaching and effective application is essential in each coaching session.


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Rapport for Moving Forward

The greatest indicator of future success in a coaching relationship is the rapport between a coach and client.  Rapport is when the client trusts you and is comfortable openly exploring, including challenging topics or feelings, and you as the coach fully support the client throughout.  Building rapport starts with a written agreement to begin earning trust. Rapport is developed further through the coach understanding and adjusting to the client.

Author Aniruddha Kumar defines rapport as “a term used to describe, in common terms, the relationship of two or more people who are in syncor on the same wavelengthbecause they feel similar and/or relate well to each other.” Rapport for Moving Forward

Techniques for developing rapport include matching and blending to the style of another.  Most of us do this naturally with our friends and people we respect.

A coach, as a professional, is focused on their client.  Coaches serve their clients by matching and blending with their client’s style.  Specifically, to match and blend, the coach observes the client’s body language, rate of speech, and choice of words.  The coach then matches some of their own to that of the client, blending their normal tendencies with the preferences of the client. As a result, the client feels the coach is in sync, and the client is more comfortable.  Rapport is built and further developed.


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Rapport = #1 Indicator of Coaching Success

Rapport is a harmonious interaction and connection between the coach and client.  Rapport is the #1 indicator of success for a coaching relationship. Rapport = #1 Indicator of Coaching Success

About Rapport:

  • Rapport starts with an agreement and Code of Ethics and built on with coaching competence plus understanding and trust.
  • Rapport is developed through the coach understanding the client’s style and adjusting to the client.
  • To maintain rapport, the coach demonstrates respect through language and demeanor.
  • The coach earns the client’s trust by giving trust and being trustworthy.
  • One of the greatest indicators of coaching effectiveness is the relationship and rapport.
  • When there is rapport, a client is comfortable openly communicating and exploring possibilities.
  • Where there is rapport, a coach may probe and clarify effectively.

Considerations for Rapport:

  • Be open and accepting of differences.
  • Build rapport by developing and using the skill to recognize client style and preferences and then adjusting.
  • Develop the ability to adjust your coaching based on what serves the client.


  • Choose training that teaches how to identify different styles in the moment and adjust accordingly.
  • Choose training that teaches styles preferences and needs.
  • Focus on understanding the client and earning trust to develop rapport.

As a coach, when you are trained and accountable to ethics, take time to establish the coaching agreement, and care to understand the client so you adjust the coaching to them, you have the foundation in place to develop rapport.


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Understanding to Move Forward

A primary focus of a professional coach is to understand the client as a person by understanding their preferences, interests, wants, and goal prioritization.  Professional coach training provides tools for recognizing client style, communication style, and focus.

The International Coach Federation published a study that states a top indicator of coaching effectiveness is the rapport between coach and client; rapport begins with understanding. Understanding to Move Forward

When a coach understands their client, the coach recognizes how their client thinks, processes, and prioritizes.  This serves the coach to communicate effectively and to formulate effective questions.  Understanding serves the client because the client is aware that the coach understands, so their comfort level is increased.  Effective training develops the skill of understanding for coaches by

  • How to identify the client’s personal style in the moment, based on the current interaction (without testing), because people are a combination of styles and circumstances that influence how they are functioning in the moment.
  • How to identify whether a client is visual, auditory, or kinesthetic because then the coach adjusts language and questions to the client’s preferences for enhanced understanding.
  • How to recognize the clients focus for processing and making decisions so that the coach asks appropriate questions.

An effective coach understands the client’s personal style and then adjusts accordingly.  This means that professional coaches treat their clients the way each client prefers to be treated.


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Understanding a Coaching Client and Their Objectives

Prior to engaging a new client, start by establishing a common understanding of the coaching relationship.  During the coaching, the coach uses what they learned in coaching certification to be present to and understand their client as an individual.  The coach partners with the client for understanding of client goals, motivators, possibilities, opportunities, challenges, strategies, and plans. Understanding a Coaching Client and Their Objectives

About Understanding:

  • Before offering professional coaching, attend training for insight on establishing an understanding of the coaching process and for the techniques to understand the client.
  • Before beginning coaching, understand client outcome goals and define measurement of the return on investment (ROI).
  • When coaching, focus intentionally to understand the client’s personal style, learning style, and focus.

Understanding is Important Because:

  • The coach provides the client with information to understand the coaching process.
  • For effective coaching, the coach focuses on understanding the client and adjusts to the client’s preferences.
  • Establishing an understanding of the client’s outcome goals creates the framework for the coaching conversation.

Considerations from Understanding:

  • Utilize a coaching style that best serves the client.
  • Commit to lifelong learning and training on listening skills to further understanding.
  • Commit to lifelong learning and training on communication styles and personalities to understand the client.


  • Clarify the coaching process and value of outcome goals.
  • Be present to the client’s style and priorities.
  • Clarify and focus on the client’s priorities and goals.

Understanding in coaching involves understanding in so many ways: the client understand what coaching is, a common understanding for how the relationship works, the coach understanding the client to adjust the process to them, a common understanding of the client’s goals and considerations, an exploration of understanding for reflection and learning, and understanding the strategies and plans for moving forward.  Coaching certification is an essential step for learning and developing how to create understanding.


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Coaching Agreement

A written coaching agreement outlines the parameters of the coaching relationship.  It is foundational to building an effective coaching engagement.  A Coaching Agreement includes exploring what the client wants from the relationship as a whole and starting each session by determining what the client wants from that session. Coaching Agreement

About Coaching Agreements:

  • A written coaching agreement includes information on confidentiality, frequency of communication, payment, boundaries, and the parameters of the coach’s role.
  • A written and signed coaching agreement is essential before starting the coaching relationship.
  • Ask the client what they want from the coaching and how they will measure success.
  • Each coaching session, ask what the client wants to focus on, what they want from the session, their reasons, and how they want to have the conversation.

Agreement is Important Because:

  • The agreement defines the relationship between the coach and client (and sponsor where applicable).
  • The coaching agreement defines the parameters and boundaries of the process.
  • The agreement creates understanding and builds trust between the coach and client.
  • Agreement guides the coaching sessions.


  • Coaching agreements are written.
  • Ensure the language in the agreement is easily understood.
  • The agreement protects both the coach and client.
  • In addition to the written agreement, start each session with an agreement on what the client wants to accomplish.


  • Examples of coaching agreements are available through coach training programs and the International Coach Federation.
  • Decide how much legalize is necessary.
  • Provide the appropriate level of explanation.
  • Define the boundaries of the relationship.
  • Outline the fee structure.
  • Refer to the code of ethics.
  • Sign the agreement before you start coaching.

Coaching agreements happen in three ways: the written agreement, the agreement of what the client (and possibly the sponsor) wants from the coaching, and an agreement at the beginning of each coaching session as to what the client wants to focus on, how they will measure the success of the coaching session, how their objective and measures are meaningful to them, and how they want to have the conversation.


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