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How to Practise Self-Management as an ICG-Recognised Coach

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

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Here’s a fact.

If you’re unwilling to work on your own personal and professional development, you cannot coach your clients to stretch and reach their absolute best.

Because what we don’t acknowledge and see for ourselves becomes un-coachable.

My point? Because the responsibility to set an example is on you, start with a focus on yourself. Your clients will go where you lead them to go.

They will admire your tenacity, self-awareness, and willingness to explore new and unfamiliar territories.

Be the example of change you wish to see in your clients.

And that’s why the ICG core competencies are so important. As an ICG-recognised Practitioner, you are given feedback on 15 core competencies that are the core of your coaching ability.

These 15 competencies are grouped into 5 categories. Last week, we discussed the core competency category of “Relationship Management”.

Let’s explore “Self-management” in this post.

Self-management is further divided into the following competencies:

1. Effectively manage self

2. Clearly live your own values, beliefs and attitudes

3. Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional development

So what does this mean and why should it interest you?

In order to serve your clients effectively, a coach should consistently demonstrate personal awareness of your own responsibilities.

For example, you may find your client raising a topic that is sensitive, to them or to you. This is a great chance for you to practise empathy (that’s different from sympathy) and remain available to them throughout the conversation through your body language, tone and words.

If you’re distracted or thinking about a past or future event during the session, you’re not 100% present to what’s happening right here and now. Being present is our responsibility as a coach, not the client’s.

Click Here to Find Out More About Becoming an ICG Member

How to Practise Self-Management as a Coach

1. Effectively manage yourself

Effectively manages self

The first step is to be 100% available and present for your client.

For example, if you’re attentive to and acknowledge the qualities of the client, those qualities will magnify. What you give attention to expands.

But this brings us to another interesting point – your ability to manage your own emotional state so your client can fill the space with their emotions and thoughts.

In other words, if you bring your own drama and baggage to the session your client cannot rely on you for a safety net.

As humans, we go through many different emotions each day. We may be overly focusing on one emotion at any given time.

Some people aren’t even aware of the emotional roller-coaster. They may have a tendency to display destructive/dysfunctional emotions unconsciously. They may think, “Well this is just how I am”.

However, this unconscious display of emotion affects people around us and may cause them to withdraw, shut down or get angry.

There are others though, who are on the opposite end of the spectrum. Too detached, not “feeling” much, or seemingly withdrawn.

In either situation, the person has used their emotions to control the situation.

As coaches, we must learn and develop our capacity to disengage from inappropriate emotions and tap into functional ones.

If you don’t, your emotions will be a major influence on the coaching session and on the client. This impacts them and sways them in terms of outcomes.

For example, if you’re too heavily invested emotionally, they may possibly reassure you. If you’re too detached, they may seek reassurance from you.

While there is a time and place for every emotion, as a coach our standards are much higher and we don’t have the luxury to fully express our feelings about something.

In short, you access emotion at will, control it and disconnect from it at will. Again, there is a time for every emotion, but we need to determine which is appropriate and when, as well as which serves our client the best.

This calls for behavioural flexibility on your part, because the person with the most behavioural flexibility will have the most impact on the system. That could mean you take yourself lightly, and with good humour when need be. Or take a more serious approach at other times.

Click Here to Find Out More About Becoming an ICG Member

2. Clearly live your own values, beliefs and attitudes

If you ask someone about their core values, chances are they’d say “love”, “trust”, “fun”, “freedom”.

Yet, when you really look at how they live their lives, you’d find something more on the lines of “certainty” and “safety”.

It is one thing to say how we want to live our life. But to really identify someone’s values, look at the decisions they make. What they reject, what they accept and what’s the norm.

Once you are clear on your values, ask if these are the same values that will help and support you on the journey.

Align your values with your goals and results you want to achieve. For example, you may think and be so sure you’re a “fun” and “adventures” person – but when you take an inventory of your decisions, you’ll realise you’re more of a “status quo” and “safety” person.

That said, your past doesn’t have to equal your future – you can always change it.

Another thing to look at is your core beliefs. Are they empowering? Do they serve, support, nurture and challenge you?

“Money is evil” is one belief. “Money makes you happy” is another. There is no right or wrong belief – what’s important is to ask if it’s serving you and pushing you forward.

Think of them as a way to “sum up” a situation quickly.

That said, you consistently want to challenge your current beliefs. If you’re surrounded by the people who have the same beliefs as you, where’s the challenge in that? Instead, seek to model beliefs of people who are ahead of you in terms of success (whatever that means to you).

Flexibility applies as much as to our thinking as it does to our behaviour. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with DISC profile, Meta Dynamics profile, meta programs and Spiral Dynamics thinking models to understand your own traits and thinking style (as well as that of your clients).

3. Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional development

Effectively Managing Client Expectations & Establishing the Coaching Agreement

Effectively Managing Client Expectations & Establishing the Coaching Agreement

We are the sum of our experiences. The more you expand your experiences, and expose to new and unfamiliar environment, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, the more you become behaviourally flexible.

The same applies to coaching. Like all professions, it’s important to stay abreast with knowledge and skills in coaching.

For example, are you aware of the basic Meta Dynamic model, the Critical Alignment Model (ESIP)?

Are you reading books on mentoring, coaching, personal development?

Are you reading (and writing) for well-researched blogs, journals and magazines?

As you get more familiar and comfortable with new ideas by absorbing new information and experiencing it, you see/hear new insights, which will eventually also serve your client.

As a coach, you bring commitment to CANI (Constant and Never-ending Improvement). It’s what you consistently do matters the most.

And while you practise CANI, you also want to receive and accept feedback. Someone who blocks feedback is blocking learning. Because accepting feedback means accepting a challenge to behaviour you’re used to defending over the years.

But the rigidity is exhausting to maintain and leads to arrogance.

Instead, welcome feedback. All kinds of feedback. Attach a sense of lightness to it so it’s not such a big deal. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts where we will explore each ICG core competency in depth. In the meanwhile, you may download all of them here.

Click Here to Find Out More About Becoming an ICG Member
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