Center for Coaching Certification

Strategies for Coaching Leaders

from LaMarsh Global – Fain

Leaders are often incredibly busy. Their role in a change project is essential, and at the same time, their calendar is often filled with essential responsibilities that extend beyond the change initiative.

For Sheila Fain, CEO of LaMarsh Global, coaching is an opportunity to “explore information and perspectives they may not otherwise reflect on.”

Change practitioners can identify risks, potential outcomes, and options. And by asking questions and actively listening, their coaching contributes to leaders making the best decision they can from the information available and what the leader knows about the organization.

“Coaching is helping them see the full perspective and the full impact of changes they are making, and then consider a wider or larger dataset when making those decisions.”

Fain suggests coaching strategies that assist the leader to identify their concerns, consider the options to mitigate or manage their concerns, and understand what information is necessary to make a decision. Strategies can include:

  • Listen to understand: Ask them what about the benefits or challenges of a change.
  • Consider the alignment between leaders: Decisions are rarely made in isolation, so ask them what they consider what other leaders think of the change.
  • Focus on willingness: Ask them if they are willing to lead a change or what it will take for them to be willing. Skills to lead a change can be developed or augmented, while only the leader can decide to be willing.

Change practitioners are often pulled into discussions or roles that extend beyond coaching or even beyond change management. Coaching is a distinct and powerful tool for change practitioners to empower leaders to fulfill their roles as decision-makers.

“As coaches, we play an important role in helping leaders understand the decisions that they’ll have to make along the way to achieve that vision.”

Coaching is a valuable skill for change practitioners, and organizations can leverage coach training to develop capable leaders. The October 27 to December 3, 2020, Change Master Advanced Certification Workshop from LaMarsh Global will include a session dedicated to coaching.  This advanced learning program and certification will prepare you to manage complex change projects, coach change practitioners, and be an effective leader. In this virtual workshop, and Cathy Liska from the Center for Coaching Certification will lead a session on coaching skills. – Register for the workshop


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Opportunities for Coaching in Change Management

from LaMarsh Global – Global

Change practitioners often work with people involved with a change: the leaders responsible for or sponsoring a change, and the people that might be impacted by the change (which can often include the leaders).

Even though these are two distinct groups of people with different roles and responsibilities, change practitioners can consider using a coaching approach for both groups.

Coaching strategies are the same when working with leaders or with employees impacted by change, says Judy Searle, Director of Consulting Services at LaMarsh Global. The conversations or communications have to be adapted to the audience, while the foundation remains the same: help people to understand their role and the decisions they can make during a change.

When coaching leaders before or during a change, the conversation is founded on the specific business objectives they want to achieve.

“Coaching is partnering for success,” describes Searle. “Ask them questions and do a lot of listening. I invite them to consider: What outcomes are you wanting to achieve?

Successful outcomes rely on a quality solution and preparing an organization for the solution, and coaching can support leaders to clarify what it will take for success.

“Change management is one part solution and one part acceptance,” says Searle. “Leaders often emphasize the solution and getting it right, and coaching is an opportunity to help them prepare the organization for the solution that is coming.  Coaching is an opportunity to explore understanding, choose how to manage it, and work toward the solution.”



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Coach for Change Management

from LaMarsh Global – Global

By separating coaching from advising, change practitioners expand the tools they have when working with leaders that are sponsoring or responsible for a change.

Randy Kesterson is an Executive Fellow at LaMarsh Global and a Certified Master Coach. He once considered coaching more akin to mentoring, and then found that shifting to the true definition of coaching opened opportunities to engage with clients so they consider the best course of action for themselves.

“I approach coaching by asking: What does the client want to achieve? Coaching is about being in support of them,” says Kesterson.

With a background in organizational process improvement, Kesterson sometimes shifts from an advisory role to a coaching approach.  It is possible (and often expected) to wear multiple hats in the same project; the hat that he selects is a deliberate choice based on his role and expectations.

Change practitioners may be expected to be an advisor or consultant, and Kesterson notes a consistent relationship between coaching and change efforts. Whether it is individuals seeking to improve or organizations looking to achieve a goal, changes are the process of going from a current state to a desired state. Coaching is a process to work with individuals so that they define their desired state and they consider their best options to get there.

“I can’t think of a coaching engagement that I’ve been involved with that didn’t involve change.” said Kesterson.

In turn, managing change benefits from coaching techniques and processes.


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The Importance of Coaching in Change Management

from LaMarsh Global – Global

Change Management calls for creating buy-in to change and how to achieve it successfully.  Telling is of limited value in this scenario.  While trainers or advisors often say what they think is the best course of action, coaches engage with questions so their clients will decide what to do or how to do it. Coaching does not give people the answers; instead, it is a process for clients to process the situation and decide what to do for themselves.

The opposite of coaching is giving people the answers to the problems or situations they are facing. When someone receives an answer (or is told what to do), three outcomes are likely:

  1. They don’t do what their told because it is not their solution (this is the most likely outcome).
  2. They do what they’re told and it doesn’t work.
  3. They do what they’re told and it works, and this creates a dependency on the coach.

“These outcomes are what happens with leaders all the time,” describes Liska. “They are not developing people that are capable until they come up with their own answers.”

Coaching does not give the solutions or plans. Instead, it is a process to walk people through to figure out the solution. For change practitioners, the ability to coach both leaders and people impacted by change is an opportunity for those individuals to decide for themselves what to do.

For organizations, coaching develops employees that can consider and own the course of action based on what they think is the best solution.  This, in turn, means they own the course of action and are more likely to follow through – which is essential when implementing change.

Coach training will help leaders and people impacted by change to “say what they do want and make sure that the focus is proactive,” says Liska. “That’s the game-changer.”


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The Role of Coaching in Change Management

from LaMarsh Global – Global

Change practitioners wear many hats. Their role is dependent on the project, organization, and overall change capability of the leaders and people within the company.  The mosaic of responsibilities varies from project to project, and change practitioners may be involved in each of these roles – either at different points in the project or at the same time:

  • Auditor: Gather and evaluate data on the state of a change or organization.
  • Planner: Develop change management plans and establish decision making structures.
  • Advisor: Review data and company goals to suggest options for decisions.
  • Project manager: Implement plans and manage risk through the life of a change.
  • Trainer: Deliver training to transfer change management knowledge and develop skills.
  • Coach: Partner with leaders and employees to help them understand and work toward their goals.

Coaching is one approach in a change practitioner’s toolkit. It is among the most misunderstood and is one of the most powerful tools that a change practitioner can use to develop sustainable change capability in the people of an organization.

Change practitioners may select a coaching approach when working with individuals or groups impacted by a change, and coaching can empower leaders to be effective and willing in their roles as sponsors or managers.

A coach is entirely distinct from a trainer or advisor, explains Cathy Liska, the CEO and Training Director for the Center for Coaching Certification.

“As a coach, I know my clients have the capability of figuring out what to do and how to do it,” says Liska, who has over 25 years of experience in training and leadership development. “Telling somebody what to do doesn’t work.  Inviting them through coaching to figure it out gets results.”


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Being a Coach

Being a coach goes beyond the coach training, coaching certification, coaching experience, and mentor coaching steps involved to become a coach.

Being a coach includes living competency #2 Embodies a Coaching Mindset, living the Code of Ethics and being ethical, and living #28 in that Code of Ethics by adhering to the philosophy of doing good. Being a Coach

What does it take to really be a coach?  Being a coach takes work on an ongoing basis.  It starts with becoming a coach and then moves into having your self-reflective practice, self-care, continuing education, and proactively doing good.

The steps for becoming a coach were covered in the previous blog.  Let’s move now into being a coach.

Competency 2.2 says, “Engages in ongoing learning and development as a coach.”  Continuing education is available free to members on the International Coaching Federation through the Communities of Practice.  Chapters of ICF all over the globe offer free or inexpensive learning opportunities.  Regional and global conferences are scheduled regularly for ongoing development.

Competency 2.3 says, “3. Develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one’s coaching.”  What is an ongoing self-reflective practice?  Options include meditation, yoga, review, and reflect on coaching sessions and the outcomes, walking, and engaging in discussions with other coaches.

Competency 2.6 and 2.7 say, “6. Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions. 7. Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions.” Competency 5.1 and 5.3 say, “1. Remains focused, observant, empathetic, and responsive to the client. 3. Manages one’s emotions to stay present with the client.” Each of these indicates the value of the coach having balance and practicing self-care to be prepared and able to apply the competencies.  This includes time for self, exercise, healthy eating, healthy relationships, and fun.

In the ICF Code of Ethics Section IV, it says, “28. Am aware of my and my clients’ impact on society. I adhere to the philosophy of “doing good,” versus “avoiding bad.”  This is a call to proactively consider and act for the benefit of others.  The options are endless.

How do you want to proactively do good as a coach?


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Becoming a Coach

Sometimes the question is raised as to whether training is necessary to becoming a coach.  Technically and legally, you can call yourself with no training.  Even my dog can call herself a coach.  The more important question is whether that is ethical and moral.

Think about it this way: How willing are you to engage a therapist, counselor, financial advisor, accountant, attorney, or any other professional if they have no training and no accountability to a Code of Ethics?

Similarly, how willing are you and how much are will you pay to hire a coach with whom you will share much personal information if they have no training?

Just as with any other profession, becoming a coach involves completing coach approved training and ideally also includes earning a credential with the International Coaching Federation.  Here is what they require:

Training Staircase

The paths to the ACC and PCC credentials with the Center for Coaching Certification are depicted here:

Training Path

Coach training is designed to build on your existing experience and skills with specific application of the coaching competencies in a coaching relationship.  Offering quality coach training on the ICF’s Core Competencies of a Coach, the Center for Coaching Certification (CCC) is the only ICF-approved program accredited by IACET to offer CEUs. CCC provides professional support with a robust suite of tools, post-graduate opportunities and support, and free continuing education.


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Understanding Your Client

Garrett Sheets, Sheets

The Understanding Your Client class in my coaching certification program delved into the “meat and potatoes” of coaching by exploring personality and how coaches, in an effort to best serve each type, must exercise elasticity in their awareness, their perceptions, and their actions. In other words, we must know how to reach and be present with everyone in a way that is the most effective for them. For instance, as I determined during our discussion, I most often exhibit an emotional passive style. Looking at the People matrix figure provided during the PowerPoint, the intersection of these two traits correctly identifies me as primarily a pleaser. Bringing this fact to the forefront of my awareness does two things for me: (1) it helps my identification of other pleasers, which may help build rapport with other pleaser clients or pleaser professionals and (2) it allows me to build a plan around interacting with other types that are different from mine. In my opinion, an effective understanding of others cannot be achieved without a thorough understanding of oneself. All of this being said, how do I get started with understanding others, and identifying different personality styles? Well…as the title of this assignment indicates – practice, practice, practice!

The level of deeper understanding I gained from applying what we learned in coach training was surprising, to say the least. During interactions, I simply asked myself “E or L?” followed by “P or A?” and was able to visualize the People matrix in my head. I will admit, at first it seemed strangely impersonal to me – almost like I was making an experiment out of people. However, I soon learned that when I fully leaned into the discomfort, it became very interesting. (1) How do I practice presence and identify their style in the moment? (2) How does their style influence their goal setting? (3) How will I adjust my coaching for this type of client?

As a final thought, I believe that understanding a client cannot be done in total without an expression of vulnerability on both sides of the conversation. In my opinion, a fruitful coaching relationship starts when a genuine desire to understand is met with a genuine desire to be understood.


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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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