IRCM Unified Coaching and Mentoring Industry Core Competencies

The International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC (IRCM), is the only official government approved international regulator to uphold the professionalism of the Coaching and Mentoring Industry.

The IRCM is committed to maintaining and updating a single unified set of internationally recognised Core Competencies. From our research, the IRCM has determined the Coaching and Mentoring Core Competencies are a specific set of skills or techniques that creates and delivers added value by the Coaching and Mentoring Professionals, Professional Bodies, Training and Commercial Organisations, to the Personal or Corporate Consumer (buyer/client/customer).

Should any individual or organisation fall short of the consumer’s expectations, with the Unified Code of Industry Ethics, these core competencies will be used in the assessment for any Complaint, Disciplinary Procedure, or Ombudsman process.

Coaching and Mentoring Core Competencies are a specific set of skills or techniques delivered by Coaches and Mentors to the Consumer.

Additional establishments of the Coaching and Mentoring Industry who utilise these Core Competencies are:

  • Professional Bodies who incorporate these Core Competencies into their verification of the coaches, mentors, and training material they accredit/credential.
  • Training Organisations who incorporate these Core Competencies into their training materials.
  • Commercial Organisation who use these Core Competencies in their selection of coaches and mentors.

Coaches and Mentors will:

  1. have a detailed understanding of their own current level of competency. They will refer consumers to another coach, mentor, or relevant professional; where they do not have the right level of competency.
  2. have the ability to know their own capability. They will refer consumers to another coach, mentor, or relevant professional; where they do not have the right level of capability.
  3. be fully aware of their own values, beliefs, and behaviours. At all times they will respect the consumer’s values, beliefs, and behaviours; and will be consciously aware of how their own values, beliefs, and behaviours may impact their working practices.
  4. being clear about their professional boundaries as a Coach or Mentor. They will be consciously aware of how any and all interactions may affect their working practices and will use this conscious awareness to manage their professional relationship at all times.
  5. be able to clearly communicate their services in terms of using terminology. They will be able to explain the differences between coaching, mentoring, therapies, consulting, psychotherapy, medical, health, and other like professions.
  6. have their own professional support through regular coaching, mentoring, or supervision sessions with a more experienced and higher qualified Coach or Mentor.
  7. be fully aware of the details of the Unified Code of Industry Ethics, and will abide by this Code. This Code provides you with the moral principles of knowing the difference between right and wrong; as well as providing guidance on how each Coach or Mentor handles certain situations. Abiding by this code will support you in respecting confidentiality, as well as taking responsibility for your mistakes or errors.


Each Coach and Mentor establishes, manages, maintains, and completes the expectations and boundaries of the coaching or mentoring contract/agreement with the consumer:

  1. Establishes:
    1. discusses and confirms the consumer’s guidelines and specific parameters (fees, scheduling, who is being coached or mentored, logistics, etc.) of the coaching or mentoring relationship.
    2. reaches an agreement about what is appropriate in the coaching or mentoring relationship and what is not.
    3. clarifies the Coach or Mentors responsibilities, and the consumer’s responsibilities.
    4. determines if there is an effective match between their abilities and the consumer’s wants, requirements, and expectations; and where there is not, refer
      consumers to another coach, mentor, or relevant professional.
    5. has a clarity about who the consumer is in relation to (1) who is setting up the agreement, (2) who is responsible for making payment, (3) where applicable, what reporting is required while maintaining consumer confidence, and (4) who attends each coaching or mentoring session.
    6. clearly establishes their terms and conditions in their Coaching or Mentoring contract/agreement.
  2. Managing and maintaining the expectations and boundaries of the relationship.
    1. manages the coaching or mentoring process so that each session ends on a positive note.
    2. manages the time within each session, ensuring the process is completed and there is a positive outcome.
    3. creating and maintaining a trust with the consumer; to provide a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust.
    4. continually keeps in mind the consumer’s reasons for coaching or mentoring, their expectations, their goals, their welfare, and their future.
    5. continually demonstrates the IRCMs Core Values.
    6. keeps promises.
    7. asks permission as and when necessary.
    8. demonstrates the ability to be fully conscious to the relationship and each coaching or mentoring session.
    9. is flexible, creative, open to not knowing, takes intelligent risks, accesses own intuition, trusts own thoughts, uses humour appropriately, and is open to the consumers many options for the most effective results.
    10. is open to selecting the most appropriate question, tool or technique in the moment.
    11. respects the consumer’s in‐depth knowledge and experience.
    12. when mentoring, shares their own niche market knowledge and experience.
    13. when mentoring, shows their ability to participate in full discussions using their own and the consumers niche market knowledge and experience.
    14. demonstrates respect for the consumer’s goal(s), ideas, actions, failures, successes, behaviours, perceptions, beliefs, values, concerns, and fears.
    15. adapts to the consumers learning style.
    16. where necessary, demonstrates their ability to work with the consumer’s strong emotions; not allowing the consumer’s emotions to overpower them.
    17. maintaining their own boundaries as a Coach or Mentor, by not becoming involved or over familiar in the consumer’s expectations, goals,  information, tasks, actions, etc.
    18. demonstrates their ability to maintain an effective relationship with the consumer; ensuring that the consumer remains independent of the Coach or
      Mentor and does not develop a dependency or reliance.
  3. Coaches and Mentors will not prolong a coaching or mentoring relationship beyond its contract/agreement or useful conclusion.
  4. Completes the expectations set by the consumer and concludes the coaching or mentoring contract/agreement.

At all times being professional.


Effective Communication is a two‐way sharing of information, which involves one person communicating a message that is easily understood by the person receiving the message, through:

  1. Active Listening:
    1. focuses completely on what the consumer is saying.
    2. intuitively hearing what is not being said.
    3. hears the goals, values, beliefs, fears, and concerns about what is and what is not possible; whether said or not said.
    4. understanding what is being said in relation to the consumer’s version of their own world.
    5. pays attention to and distinguishes between the use of actual words, tone of voice, and where possible body language.
    6. being aware of the consumer’s interpretation of terminology and words. Questioning where appropriate.
    7. accurately summarises, paraphrases, re‐iterates and/or mirrors back what the consumer has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
    8. gaining clarity on the consumer’s strengths and weaknesses; reflecting this information back to them in a positive manner.
    9. focuses and supports the consumer’s agenda, and not the Coach or Mentors agenda for the consumer.
    10. gives the consumer uninterrupted space, to vent, clarify or be silent to think and to finish what they are saying.
    11. encourages the consumer to investigate their own thoughts and ideas.
    12. does not interrupt the consumer, unless appropriate.
    13. understands and evaluates information; and reflects back their own interpretations to help the consumer gain awareness.
  2. Effective Questioning:
    1. lead the consumer on a journey of exploration within themselves, in which there is a balance between the content and the process of thought.
    2. ask the right question at the right time for effective communication, thought and idea generation, and information exchange.
    3. primarily using open questions.
    4. avoid multiple or confusing questions.
    5. limit the use of leading questions.
    6. using closed questions only when an open question is not appropriate.
    7. asks questions that reflect active listening and full in‐depth understanding of the consumer’s world.
    8. asks in‐depth, open ended questions that create greater clarity, unlimited possibilities, evokes discoveries, brings insights, challenges assumptions, or generates commitments or actions.
    9. uses questions to move the consumer forward towards their future.
    10. be aware of questions that generate a justification response.
    11. highlights past successes, in a way that those successes can support the consumer’s future.
    12. unless the question is used to clarify or confirm a statement made or terminology used by the consumer, the Coach or Mentor will never ask a question for their own benefit.
    13. ask questions that help the consumer reveal the information they (the consumer) need in order to move themselves forward into their future.
    14. integrates information, ideas, and suggestions provided by the consumer in order to raise the consumer’s perception and opportunities.
    15. explores values, beliefs, perceptions, feelings, concerns, ideas, suggestions, etc. to a point where the consumer has a sudden understanding of a previously incomprehensible problem or concept or clarity (often called the ‘aha moment’).
    16. uses the consumer’s communication patterns.
    17. uses the consumer’s terminology or language.
    18. skilfully asks questions which may be uncomfortable for the consumer.
    19. skilfully asks questions which explores the topic they don’t want to talk about.
    20. mentors may ask suggestive or guiding questions; Coaches will not.
  3. Mentors may share personally gained knowledge and experience; Coaches will not.
  4. Structured and Creative Thinking:
    1. provide the consumer with the opportunity to think creatively.
    2. provide the consumer with the opportunity to explore innovative solutions.
    3. provide the consumer with the opportunity to look at the consumer’s topic from someone’s perspective.
    4. finding innovative and resourceful ways to overcome obstacles, solve problems, or deal with unforeseen or challenging situations.
  5. Direct communication
    1. using language that is fully understood by the consumer, while having the greatest impact.
    2. uses honest, direct, easy‐to‐understand language that enables the consumer to move towards the agreed outcomes and their future.
    3. uses courteous communication which is friendly, open, confident, and flexible with no hidden agenda, passive‐aggressive tones, or inappropriate vocabulary.
    4. communicates clearly and articulately with confidence and credibility.
    5. reframing and reflecting to provide support to the consumer of their own understanding and perspective of what they want or need, to enable them to move into their future.
    6. adapts their own communication style in recognition of the consumer’s communication style.
    7. uses the consumer’s own language or metaphor or analogy, to create broad and meaningful communication.
    8. communicates in a manner that encourages the consumer to share their views.
    9. recognises and effectively manages transference, counter‐transference, and/or projection.
    10. taking full responsibility for the quality, confidentiality and content of all communication.
    11. demonstrates the use of pitch, pace, tone, and effective body language.
  6. Collaborative working
    1. questioning in a manner that encourages the consumer to share their ideas and thoughts without judgement, fear, or concern.
    2. building a strong partnership with the consumer to support the consumer’s future.
    3. building a supportive relationship with the consumer, without stepping over the boundaries.


  1. Demonstrates a working knowledge of coaching or mentoring through applying one or more models, skills, tools, and/or techniques; in order to bring about insight, learning, and to focus on the consumer’s future.
  2. Where applicable, clearly explains the purpose of the model, skill, tool, technique, or exercise.
  3. Uses and adapts appropriate models, skills, tools, and techniques:
    1. to move back and forth between where the consumer is now and where the consumer wishes to be.
    2. to identify limiting beliefs, patterns, inconsistencies, possible problems, stumbling blocks, etc.
  4. Has the ability to incorporate the feedback and learning gained through their regular coaching or mentoring or supervision sessions with a more experienced and higher qualified Coach or Mentor.
  5. Has an in‐depth understanding of the reasons for the success of the models, skills, tools, and techniques used to help the consumer deal with specific challenges.
  6. Has the ability to split their selected model, skill, tool, or technique into manageable segments so as not to overwhelm the consumer.


  1. Enabling the consumer to gain insight, growth, learning, and development.
  2. Has the ability to evaluate and interpret consumer information, to help the consumer gain awareness and insight, to successfully achieve the outcome.
  3. Demonstrates their belief in the ability of the consumer to grow and develop.
  4. Knows and believes that each consumer has their own learning style.
  5. Works with the consumer to identify and recognise their values, beliefs, concerns, fears, behaviours, challenges, thoughts, ideas, perceptions, emotions, moods, habits, etc.
  6. Works with the consumer to help them develop new strengths in their own ability to take action and achieve the future as they have determined.
  7. Identifies the differences between facts and the individual interpretation; encouraging the consumer to view the facts from a different view point.
  8. Helps the consumer think outside the box to achieve their objectives.
  9. Believes that success comes from allowing the consumer to gain insight, grow, and learn for themselves; encouraging the recognition of their development.
  10. Encourages the consumer to view their own interpretation of their own world from another person’s view of their world. This will help the consumer to gain insight and understanding, while expanding, growing and developing their own options.
  11. Enables the consumer to recognise their constraints, and encourages them to seek an alternative path.
  12. Raises awareness through the use of models, tools, skills, and techniques; so the consumer recognises for themselves, their own situation, position, growth, learning, and development.
  13. Helps the consumer recognise their own major strengths, while supporting the insight into those areas for learning, growth, and development.
  14. Encouraging the consumer to undertake their own research to reach informed decisions.


Ability to support the consumer in designing and creating their desired future.

  1. Actions:
    1. helps the consumer explore all options (known and unknown), assumptions, perspectives, and concerns before making a decision.
    2. consolidates and evaluates all information, before making a decision.
    3. promoting the opportunities for experimentation, growth, learning, and selfdiscovery when making decisions.
    4. challenging the decision to ensure that the consumer has, for themselves, selected the right action or actions towards their outcomes.
    5. supports and challenges during the planning stage.
    6. encouraging the consumer to ‘do it now’. Challenges, if not now, then when and what has to happen first.
    7. encourages the consumer to stretch and challenge themselves, before making a decision.
    8. demonstrate a commitment to excellence. Each coach or mentor will take a pride in their work and strive to deliver the best possible results.
  2. Goal, Action, Task Setting:
    1. helps the consumer focus on their desired future when defining and creating each goal.
    2. when selecting the next step, helps the consumer to focus on one specific step towards their future.
    3. works with the consumer to evaluate their options.
    4. supports and challenges the selected resources for growth, learning, and development.
    5. helps the consumer create their plan to achieve results that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and have target dates.
    6. brings visibility and insight to actual or perceived stumbling blocks. Works to generate and support contingency plans.
    7. supporting the consumer in understanding their own priorities.
    8. works with the consumer to review and amend the plan as required.
  3. Accountability
    1. supporting the obligation that the consumer has to themselves; to account for their own activities, and take responsibility for their desired future, actions, and tasks.
    2. help the consumer acknowledge their results in an open and transparent manner.
    3. encourages the consumer’s self‐discipline, responsibility and accountability for their desired future.
    4. helps the consumer to define their accountability measure.
    5. raises awareness for the consumer to clarify what they have done, have not done, have learnt, have not learnt, or have become aware of since the previous session.
  4. Results
    1. motivate the consumer to recognise what has happened as a result of the goals they set, the actions they took, and the tasks they completed.
    2. understand the positive consequences of their actions or tasks.
    3. help the consumer recognise how far they have come along the path to their desired future.
    4. encourage the consumer to positively recognise their growth, learning, development, and results.
    5. encourage the consumer to celebrate their successes.
    6. helps the consumer stay on track.


  1. At regular intervals, scheduling and taking time to explore
    1. the competence demonstrated in each session with a consumer
    2. or the interaction with colleagues and other members of the profession or public.
  2. Schedule regular coaching or mentoring or supervision sessions with a more experienced and higher qualified Coach or Mentor; who can support the insight, learning, growth, development; and define Continuing Professional Development plans.
  3. Reflect with yourself or your Coach, or your Mentor, or your Supervisor to continue to be effective in your own coaching or mentoring practice; and contribute to the positive reputation of the industry.
  4. Recognising what new insight, learning, growth, and development you have acquired through your reflection and Continuing Professional Development.
  5. Recognising and celebrating your professional growth and development.
  6. Clearly documenting your Continuing Professional Development to enable you to keep up to date with legislation, research, new ideas, standards, ethics, competencies, tools, skills, models, techniques, etc.; through reading books, professional magazines, attending workshops, training courses, conferences, learning from colleagues, etc.


© 2018 International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC. All Rights Reserved
Version 3, March, 2018


Currently all information provided by and correspondence with the IRCM is in English.