What is coaching? ICG Definition of Coaching

The International Coaching Guild defines coaching as a collaborative relationship between a coach and a coaching client, with the primary intention of facilitating desired changes for the client. A successful coaching partnership is one in which movement towards a client's goals are accelerated far beyond what the individual could accomplish without the support and feedback from a coach. Successful coaches and Professional Coaches will have mastered the Core Competencies of Coaching as established by the International Coaching Guild. This includes using the Critical Alignment Model to assist clients in establishing the right environments, systems, implementation strategies and relationships to achieve their goals.

Download the ICG Core Competencies of Coaching Infographic.

What is coaching? An effective coaching relationship or coaching environment provides a coaching client with innovative ways of learning, thinking, feeling, brainstorming, speaking and presenting. The primary intent of all coaching relationships is to provide facilitation to help a client progress towards personal and business goals.

What iscoaching? ICG Definition - International Coaching Guild - International Gold Standards

Tenants of Successful Coaching and Coaching Ethics

  • Coaching is client-centred and collaborative.
  • An effective coach has a high degree of self-awareness as well as a proven capacity for establishing rapport with a variety of individuals.
  • A professional coach must have expertise in establishing trust, rapport, open communication and vulnerability in order to effectively assist their clients.
  • Self-development and personal growth are an inherent component of effective coaching training programs.

Coaching relationships are inherently vulnerable. Following the Coaching Code of Ethics is crucial for client safety and successful coaching results.

According to the International Coaching Guild, all Professional Coaching business and professional coaches must adhere to the ICG Code of Ethics.

ICG Professional Coaches and Life Coach Training providers will have a proven record of:

  • Sustainability as a business / registered training provider or RTO
  • Well-trained and competent Coaches and presenters who have extensive experience with a variety of individuals
  • Mixed-media Learning Resources for students and/or coaching clients
  • Student success stories
  • Coaching training resources including digital and in-person trainings, books and webinars
  • Strict Code of Ethics for Coaches, Mentors, Trainers and Presenters
  • Fair and Lawful Refund Policies

Gold Standards of Professional Coaching (ICG Standards and Code of Ethics)

Professional Coaching Core Competencies (Infographic) by the International Coaching Guild (ICG)

Below in an infographic example of the core competencies of coaches.

For the complete listing of core competencies required to become an Professional Coach and to establish membership in the International Coaching Guild, visit the International Coaching Training Page.





Benefits of Professional Coaching (ICG Standards and Code of Ethics)

With the right client-coaching relationship, personal growth and business success will occur at accelerated rates.

Using effective tools, an Accredited Professional Coach or Business Coach will assist the coaching client to:

  • achieve desired goals by making positive changes in thinking, language and behaviours
  • develop new ways of engaging with themselves and others to enable more rapid progress towards goals
  • remove self-limiting actions and overcome perceived obstacles or barriers to change
  • reduce anxiety and self-doubt
  • find new inspiration and innovation to create a more satisfying life and/or more rewarding achievement
  • heal and grow their capacity in terms of communication, confidence, relationship building and success dynamics

What training is required to become an Accredited Professional Coach?

There are several pathways to becoming an Accredited Professional Coach.

Students searching to find the best Coaching Training Courses and Coaching Institutes are strongly encouraged to thoroughly investigate the training provider's history in relation to:

  • sustainability
  • professionalism
  • resource provision
  • assessments
  • pathways of learning
  • success stories (testimonials or online reviews)


ICG has established rigorous coaching training standards and assessment criteria for global coaching education providers and students.

  • The highest standards of coaching training across the world require a minimum of 3 to 5 years of intensive coaching training by an Accredited Training Institute that has adopted formal assessment standards.
  • Code of Ethics and formal Assessments to ascertain the student meets the higest professional standards for Life Coach Accreditation or Professional Coaching Accreditation are mandatory.
  • They will rely upon evidence-based coaching methods and strategies attained from a variety of different sectors, including psychology, business coaching, speech coaching, self-development, counselling and presentation skills training.
  • Business and marketing skills are a crucial component of Professional Coaching Training education.

Visit the International Coaching Guild's Accredited Professional Coach training page for information on accreditation programs and standards for professional coaching certification training.

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