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PhD in I/O Psychology Insight: 11 Core Coaching Competencies

Study alongside Walden University students with this required reading taken from the PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology course Leadership Coaching: Theories, Concepts, and Processes.

Coaching isn’t just for athletes. In the business world, numerous companies employ coaches to help leaders improve their ability to reach short- and long-term organizational goals. Whether on staff or brought in as a consultant, these leadership coaches are highly trained in the process of coaching and in the needs of organizations.

In many cases, leadership coaches have completed a PhD in Psychology program focused on industrial and organizational psychology. Through such a program, you can gain an advanced understanding of employee and organizational behavior. And you can gain the coaching skills you’ll need to make a real difference in a company’s performance.

PhD in I/O Psychology Insight: 11 Core Coaching Competencies

For example, in Walden University’s PhD in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology program, you can study such key leadership coaching resources as the International Coach Federation’s (ICF’s) Core Competencies, a list of 11 competencies that all coaches should master.1 Studied as part of Walden’s industrial and organizational psychology course Leadership Coaching: Theories, Concepts, and Processes, ICF’s Core Competencies provide a vital foundation for any aspiring industrial psychology professional who wants a career in coaching.

As written by the ICF, the 11 core competencies are:

  1. Meeting Ethical Guidelines and Professional Standards—Understanding of coaching ethics and standards and ability to apply them appropriately in all coaching situations
  2. Establishing the Coaching Agreement—Ability to understand what is required in the specific coaching interaction and to come to an agreement with the prospective and new client about the coaching process and relationship
  3. Establishing Trust and Intimacy With the Client—Ability to create a safe, supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust
  4. Coaching Presence—Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, and confident
  5. Active Listening—Ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self-expression
  6. Powerful Questioning—Ability to ask questions that reveal the information needed for maximum benefit to the coaching relationship and the client
  7. Direct Communication—Ability to communicate effectively during coaching sessions, and to use language that has the greatest positive impact on the client
  8. Creating Awareness—Ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results
  9. Designing Actions—Ability to create opportunities with the client for ongoing learning, during coaching and in work/life situations, and for taking new actions that will most effectively lead to agreed-upon coaching results
  10. Planning and Goal-Setting—Ability to develop and maintain an effective coaching plan with the client
  11. Managing Progress and Accountability—Ability to hold attention on what is important for the client, and to leave responsibility with the client to take action

The ICF’s Core Competencies provide an excellent framework for effective coaching. But it is just a framework. If you want a successful career in coaching, you’ll likely need to earn a PhD in Psychology focused on I/O psych.

While earning a doctorate in psychology takes a lot of commitment, it’s actually more feasible than you might think, thanks to online learning. Through an online PhD in Psychology program, you won’t have to move to be close to a university. Instead, you can stay right where you are and take your courses via the internet. Plus, when you earn a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology online, you’ll have the power to choose when in the day you attend class—making it possible to continue working full time.

Leadership coaches can make a significant difference in the performance of leaders and their organizations. Thanks to online education, you can earn the psychology degree you need to make leadership coaching your psychology career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a PhD in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission,