The “New” Coaching Masteries™

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in May 2008.

The "New" Coaching Masteries™
by Nina East, IAC-CC

As the buzz about the IAC Coaching Masteries™ continues to grow, coaches are noticing differences between the Masteries and the ways other organizations describe coaching skills. This is exciting because it means coaches are studying and integrating this next generation of coaching mastery carefully! Coaches are telling us the Masteries are helping them become even more clear and precise in their coaching. This is leading to greater confidence overall!

At the same time, there are a couple of the Masteries which are either new or just different enough that coaches are having a hard time fully integrating them into their ways of coaching.

Two significant differences between the Coaching Masteries™ and what came before are Mastery #4 (Processing in the Present) and Mastery #9 (Helping the Client Create and Use Support Systems and Structures). Not surprisingly, these are the two Masteries coaches are having the most difficulty with in Part 2 of IAC Certification.

To help jumpstart your coaching and use of these two Masteries, here are some pointers:

Processing in the Present

From the Coaching Masteries Ebook , Mastery #4, Processing in the Present is demonstrated when the coach is “attentive to the client, processing information at the level of the mind, body, heart and/or spirit, as appropriate. The coach expands the client’s awareness of how to experience thoughts and issues on these various levels, when and as appropriate.”

Think of it as addressing or “surfacing up” what’s going on for the client right here, right now, in the midst of the coaching. In addition to what the client says, how he thinks, feels and behaves during the coaching session is a rich resource for coaching. Often what the coach senses the client is not saying is what is most important.

Masterful coaches process in the present—using what’s happening for the client in the moment, appropriately sharing what they notice in the client’s voice or body language and identifying themes or inconsistencies in what the client is saying. This can provide meaningful insights and initiate significant shifts for the client.

Novice coaches tend to get caught up in the words or details of the issue or story, missing the deeper thoughts or feelings that are the root of the issue.

For example, suppose a coach makes a suggestion or asks a question and the client hesitates before saying yes or does so tentatively. The masterful coach will back up and ask the client about their hesitation. Is that yes accurate; is the client really ready to move forward?

The novice coach tends to accept the yes without questioning the hesitation or verifying that the client really does agree. In doing this, the novice coach forges ahead based on what may not be the client’s true feelings.

Systems and Structures

Mastery #9, Helping The Client Create and Use Support Systems and Structures, is demonstrated when the coach helps “the client identify and build the relationships, tools, systems and structures he or she needs to advance and sustain progress.”

The two keys in this Mastery are systems and sustain. Thinking—and coaching—in terms of systems is fundamental to effective and lasting change. When this Mastery is used effectively, the client is more confident and secure in moving forward, knowing that resources are available or can be created. They may not have everything figured out yet, but neither are they worried about whether they’ll be able to figure it out, or get themselves to take action. The confidence is built from approaching the problem holistically, rather than generating an isolated list of action items or homework. The most effective systems are the ones that will support the client’s goals without requiring significant willpower from the client.

For example, when faced with a client who is behind in paying bills (and wants to do something about it), a novice coach might suggest the client commit to paying their bills by the end of the day. As an action item, this may help the client accomplish the goal for a day. But it doesn’t help the client to address this continuing challenge. In other words, it neither sustains the client’s goal nor prevents the issue from coming up again the following month.

The masterful coach helps the client find a way to address this kind of recurring issue. One system the client might use would be automated bill paying through his bank. Then the payments are automatically made on time. This structure doesn’t rely quite as heavily on the client’s memory or attentiveness every month. It supports the client in taking action, even when the client’s pattern may be to avoid.

These are just a few examples to illustrate the meaning and intent of Masteries 4 and 9. They are certainly not the only ways to demonstrate them nor are they the only systems to address these types of issues. Coaches using these masteries effectively are limited only by the creativity of the client and coach collaborating together.

Nina East, IAC-CC is a coach who helps online businesses maximize their marketing and affiliate programs through coaching, training, and sometimes a little cattle prodding. She has been a Certifying Examiner for the IAC since 2003 and was the lead certifier for several years. You can see what Nina is up to at

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