Center for Coaching Certification

The Challenge: Shift from Externally Motivated to Internally Motivated

internal v external motivation blogWhen someone is externally motivated it means their actions serve what someone else wants or they are avoiding a consequence.  External motivation gets a short term result.  When someone is internally motivated it means they are doing something because of their own values or interests.  Internal motivation serves a long term result.

During coach training an example is given of a client that is doing something because someone else will like the outcome.  For example, dieting and exercising so that someone else will find them more attractive.  An example in the workplace is doing tasks to avoid getting yelled at or even fired.  In both these examples the commitment for follow through is limited.

To create awareness and support a long term result, coaches are taught to ask questions that explore a client’s internal motivation.  For example:

  • What does it mean to you personally?
  • How will you feel about it?
  • What are your internal thoughts?
  • How is it significant for you?
  • How does it fit with your objectives?
  • How does it align with your values?
  • What is important for you?

From the examples given above, the client who is exercising and dieting will begin to explore feeling confident, having energy, and fitting into their clothes comfortably.  The client doing tasks will explore their learning, augmenting their resume, demonstrating their skills, and enhancing how they are perceived.  In both cases the commitment for follow through is enhanced.

What motivates you?

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The Challenge: Shift from Reactive to Proactive

The Challenge: Shift from Reactive to ProactiveSometimes, when coaching, a client is reacting to circumstances instead of planning intentionally.  As a coach, part of the process expertise learned in coaching certification is shifting the client focus to being proactive.

The reasons for being proactive seem obvious: if someone is reactive they are giving up control and if they are proactive at a minimum they can influence outcomes.  Being proactive means making choices.  Proactive people think ahead and plan their actions.  Proactivity is forward focused and that is the intention of coaching.

The way a coach creates a shift to being proactive is through the questions.  Here are a few to start with:

  • What is possible for you to do?
  • What is within your control?
  • How can you influence that?
  • What steps can you take?
  • How do you want to advance?
  • What level of input do you have?
  • What level of influence do you want to create?
  • How can you increase your possibilities?
  • What options do you have?

Being reactive means waiting for someone else or waiting for something else.  Being proactive means initiating action.  While there are circumstances with multiple limitations, a proactive approach means focusing on what is possible, creating strategies, and being specific with action steps.  Sounds like coaching!

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The Challenge: Shifting from Negative to Positive

The Challenge: Shifting from Negative to PositiveThe International Coach Federation modeled being positive for all coaches and coach training programs when, in updating the Code of Ethics, they intentionally changed to positive language as much as possible.

When someone is using negative language they are slower to process and act.  Negative language limits at a subconscious level.  Alternatively, positive language is motivating.  Positive language opens up thinking and possibilities.  Ultimately positive language is forward focused and coaching is forward focused.

How do coaches create a shift when clients use negative language so that they use positive language instead?  Ask questions!

Here are a few examples of questions to ask:

  • If not that, then what?
  • If you don’t want that, what do you want instead?
  • How do you want it to be?
  • What is your ideal?
  • What is your best possible scenario?
  • What do you want?

On a personal level consider the impact on you when you are negative versus positive.  When you catch yourself stuck in the negative, ask the questions listed here of yourself.

As a coach make positivity a habit and positive language a new normal.  The more you are positive and use positive language the more natural it is and the easier to create the shift with coaching clients.

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Process Tools

process toolsWhen coaching, clients are often working on how they will complete specific things.  Sometimes it is tracking their own work or all the work of their team, perhaps it is delegating, other times it is determining who does what in which order.  Time management and budgeting also involve processes and ultimately both time and money are factors for everyone.

During more advanced coaching certification there is exploration of various process tools and students are challenged to begin creating or finding more.  The idea is that the more coaches are aware of different process tools, and the more they create their own, the more prepared they are with options for clients or the ability to co-create a tool with their client.

For example, as a result of coaching an executive, one tool called the Delegation Progression supported that client and also became a resource for other clients.  Specifically, working with the client during a coaching session, the process of increasing the level of freedom given when delegating plus the process of discussing this with employees was delineated.  A table was included too for the client to use.  As an example here is part of what is included in the tool:

The Delegation Progression:

  1. Talk to me about everything.
  2. Tell me your ideas for handling situations.
  3. Tell me your plan.
  4. Tell me how your plan worked.
  5. Tell me only if your plan failed.
  6. Meet with me regularly.

The conversation with the person being delegated to:

  1. Ask what level they think they are at.
  2. Share what level you think they are at if it is different.
  3. Ask what they plan to do to move up to the next level.

The insights and application of this tool supported client success.  The additional win is how co-creating the process tool with one client also means having that tool plus additional dexterity for creating tools with other coaching clients.

What process tools make sense for your clients?

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Visuals or Info-graphics as Coaching Tools

Given that 40% of people are primarily visual and many more are secondarily so, visuals, diagrams, or info-graphics are great tools for coaches.  As an example, when explaining coach training or coaching certification classes in a webinar, a visual of the model and process for coaching helps people understand coaching.  As a coach offering services, a diagram or visual on your website can be helpful for clients.  Additionally, diagrams or info-graphics on social media garner attention.

Take the idea of visuals past explaining coach training or coaching services and consider it a tool for clients to organize their thoughts, gain clarity, and/or remember something.  As a coach the more easily you can create diagrams, info-graphics, or visuals, the more easily you can help a client during a coaching session by creating it for them as they talk and explore or by helping them create their own.  Creating a visual is a brainstorming opportunity too.

As an example, consider this visual of the change process:


info graphic - blog

This illustration provides insight and sets up further exploration.

Visuals or diagrams are an opportunity for understanding.  An added benefit of visuals is how they engage people, much like stories do, in the idea, process, or plan.  Visuals serve as reminders too.

What visuals do you want to have on your website?

What visuals do you want to create with clients?

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Inventories as a Coaching Tool

inventories as a coaching toolWhile assessments are validated tools intended to provide a depth of insight, inventories are a tool that can be created or tailored specifically for coaching clients for awareness, planning, and prioritizing.  Inventories are a listing and/or ranking tool to identify skills, values, priorities, or balance.  In a coach training program, for example, often an opening coaching session teaches an exploration of interests in different areas of a client’s life.  This is, at its core, an inventory.

In more advanced coaching certification programs coaches are provided with, learn about, and create various inventories.  Sometimes the focus is foundational challenges around time and money, other times the intention is to identify values or prioritize areas of focus.  Inventories can be helpful for writing a personal or business mission statement or for creating a personal skill development plan.

As a coach, having several basic tools makes sense.  Start with your area of focus working with clients, your coaching niche.  If your niche is related to career coaching the inventory may be related to work activities a client enjoys doing.  If your focus is transitioning to a new location the inventory may be as simple as a checklist of resources.  If you coach executives the inventory may be based on skills.  Business coaches can create inventories tied to prioritizing budgeting, growth, stability, scalability, or sale ability.

Coaches can develop a set of core tools, familiarize themselves with others, and co-create tools with their clients to serve the purposes of the individual.  Inventories can be easily created and used to prioritize focus or to create awareness.

What inventory tools do you want in your tool kit?

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Coaching Tools

coaching toolsCoaching certification programs provide tools for their student coaches to use.  As their coach training advances, student coaches acquire more tools and also learn to create tools.  The intention is to enhance both the coaching work and the results of the client.

As a starting point, before or outside of coaching sessions, various assessments are great tools.  Assessments range from exploring personality to finding strengths, from measuring emotional intelligence to a 360, to name a few.  When used, the administering of the assessment is done by someone certified in the particular tool.  This may be the coach, it may be someone else inside a company, or it may be administered by an outside professional.  Ultimately the depth of information creates awareness for a coaching client and opens up areas of focus.

In a coaching relationship it is incumbent on the coach to be aware of the various assessment tools and to be intentional in terms of whether the particular assessment adds value for the client.  This means considering whether and which assessment makes sense.

The value of coaching after obtaining assessment results is that it supports the client focusing on where they want to create meaningful change, developing their strategies, implementing action plans, and moving forward proactively.

Assessments are one tool available to coaches.  What else is available?

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Leading = Coaching

Leading = CoachingFirst and foremost, at a very basic level, being a leader or developing leadership means developing personal awareness and self-management first, and then learning and applying effective people and communication skills.

Take that same sentence and replace the words leader and leadership with coaching:  Coaching or developing a coach means developing personal awareness and self-management first, and then learning and applying effective people and communication skills.

It is equally valid for leaders, leadership, coaches, and coaching.

Research leadership training and research coaching certification – the similarities and overlap are extensive.  Read the 11 Core Competencies of a Coach and imagine reading it as the competencies of a leader.

Great leaders coach and great coaches are leaders.

Coaching is a tool for leaders and the savvy leaders are accessing both coaching services and coach training.

When in a position of leadership part of the role involves self-management.  Leaders inspire and motivate.  Leaders also have great skill understanding and engaging others plus effective communication skills using positive and proactive language.  The tools and techniques developed in coaching certification are clearly a benefit for developing oneself as a leader and for leading both effectively and successfully.

Great leaders are increasingly also great coaches.  Consider this definition of coaching from the International Coach Federation: “Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  Great leaders serve others and thus the definition also works for great leaders.  Great leaders partner with others “…in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”

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Coaching: A Tool of Choice for Leaders

Coaching: a tool of choice for leadersWhen you review the definitions and articles on leaders and leadership the overlap with coaching skills is evident.  Coach training develops leadership skills and leaders.  Coaching develops leaders.

Consider what it means to be a leader:

  • Leadership is a practical skill for guiding.
  • Leaders set direction, engage, inspire, and motivate.
  • Leaders do the right thing.

A leader:

  • knows their strengths and weaknesses,
  • believes in them self,
  • has emotional, relationship, and social intelligence,
  • works hard persistently and consistently,
  • thinks about both what and why,
  • takes risks,
  • and owns their mistakes.

Additionally, a leader supports and develops others because a leader:

  • engages others in a shared vision,
  • models positive and proactive action,
  • empowers others,
  • accepts mistakes,
  • supports change,
  • and acknowledges both progress and success.


  • demonstrate belief in others,
  • communicate respectfully and positively,
  • give ownership,
  • demonstrate self-control,
  • invite and respect different perspectives,
  • and design opportunities to brainstorm and experiment.

At a more advanced level, a leader knows the difference between internal and external motivation and taps internal motivation.  A leader both wants and supports for others autonomy, mastery, self-expression, and purpose.  This is aligned very closely with coaching.

Coaching certification is a powerful and effective way to both develop leadership skills personally and to be a leader by supporting, acknowledging, and empowering others.

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What is Next in Coaching

What's Next in CoachingAs professions are defined and developed there is a growth process involving the development of ethics and standards.  Once the standards are established the profession moves into public awareness of and compliance with the standards.  Ultimately professions either are regulated by government or they self-regulate (examples of this include doctors, therapists, attorneys, HR professionals, accountants, and more).

Coaching is now moving toward self-regulation through the International Coach Federation.  As coaching grows and the profession is normalized, the processes for coach training approvals, credentialing, and continuing education are further enhanced.  For example:

  • The ICF is exploring how they are reviewing coaches seeking a credential and their standards for coach training programs.
  • Coach training organizations are exploring the quality of processes for trainer qualification and for training programs. The Association of Coach Training Organizations is working on defining coach trainer competencies.
  • Conferences for coaches, coach trainers, and coaching schools continue expanding both in terms of offerings and attendance. As a result, the conversations deepen and in turn the coaching profession benefits because new insights and concepts are brought to the work and to how the processes are developed.

On the horizon are enhanced processes for approving training programs, awarding credentials, and accessing new or different coaching methodologies, thus expanding the options for clients.

What are your recommendations?

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