Mastery in Coaching

Mastery in Coaching

What is Mastery in Coaching?

An interview with Fran Fisher, Master Certified Coach


Fran, how do you define ‘Mastery’ in Coaching?

To answer that question, it’s important for me to first share my definition and purpose of coaching:  “Coaching is the sacred space of Unconditional Love, where Learning, Growth, and Transformation naturally occur.”

The purpose of coaching is to affect deep, meaningful, and lasting change—in other words, learning, growth, and transformation.  As a coach, I believe my purpose is to be a space for my client’s greatness.

So, the essence of masterful coaching is a space for the client’s greatness and a connection to the whole of who the client is being.  The coach lets go and trusts self, the client, and the process at the level of unconscious competence.


For you personally, Fran, how do you know that you are coaching masterfully?

When I am coaching masterfully, I have the sensation of free-falling.  And I have the visual in my mind’s eye of Alice in Wonderland floating down the rabbit hole. I am not in my head thinking. I am being completely curious, letting the conversation flow.  (unconsciousness competence)

As a Mentor for coaches and an ICF Assessor, how do you recognize ‘Mastery’ when you see it? Hear it? Feel it?

  • Coach is calm and genuinely curious and BEING with the client in their thinking process versus DOING to the client. Examples of doing: problem solving, driving for a result, analyzing, suggesting, asking leading questions, or teaching. I feel a sense of ease and flow in the conversation.
  • Coach is providing spaciousness for the client that helps the client show up to themselves. There’s a sense of timelessness. No forcing awareness.
  • Coaches are asking out-of-the-box questions, allowing their intuition to inform their questions and observations.
  • Partnership is present and visible: the client is leading the conversation; the coach is a learning partner, inviting the client to lead.


What do you feel gets in our way to becoming more masterful?

It’s important for us to periodically work with a mentor coach to refresh our competencies, wake up to our default patterns, and continue enhancing our level of mastery.

  • Feeding our EGO instead of our SOUL—the need to be the expert/perform, tell, offer our own analysis/solving/fixing, versus being genuinely curious (being willing not to know).
  • Lack of confidence; fear of making a mistake; afraid they might be perceived as being rude (Example: the skill of intervening)
  • The challenge, hard work sometimes, in changing our poor coaching habits.


What are the top 3 tips you have for Coaches who are on the path toward their MCC credential?

  1. Invite the client to explore more deeply so you get to the core underlying issue. For example, in Establishing the Coaching Agreement, coach the client’s relationship to their issue instead of coaching their issue. To explore fully what the client wants to accomplish. Ask questions such as ‘what’s important or meaningful about achieving that today?’ This will take the client deeper and often uncover what’s underneath their presenting issue. And then fully explore a measure for success for accomplishing that outcome.Example: Client: “I want a solid plan.” Coach: “What does solid look like?” This revealed what the client really wanted – which was ‘confidence.’ New outcome is now ‘increased confidence’. Now set a measure for success for increasing his confidence.
  2. Creating Awareness. Invite the client to explore what they are learning or discovering or realizing about themselves. Go deeper into what are they learning about themselves as a result of the coaching process, or their insights or shifts in their energy that you notice, so they raise their self-awareness and learning more about themselves.
  3. There’s the science and the art at the level of MCC: Practice mastering the SCIENCE (or structure) of the PCC Markers, and the ART, which are the qualitative aspects, as spelled out in the “minimum requirements for the MCC” document: Performance Evaluations


What other advice and words of wisdom would you like to share with coaches seeking greater Mastery?

  • Let go of your focus on earning the framed certificate for your office wall. Focus your motivation instead on gaining mastery in your personal growth – in other words mastery of your self – who you are as a human being. Let that growth transform the quality of your coaching.
  • Choose the process to be a journey versus a destination.
  • Coaches I mentor who embrace the personal growth journey versus the destination to the certificate do deeper personal work.
  • Two coaches I am mentoring for their MCC right now submitted their first recording to me for assessment and debriefing. They were both already coaching at the MCC level – and not “just over the bar!” So, they are eagerly spending their ten hours of mentoring with me going even deeper into who they are being, exploring territories for growth within themselves.

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