7 Core Competencies of Meta-Coaching – Part 1 

 February 4, 2020

By  Donna Woodrow

Did you know that Meta-Coaching is the only coaching certification in the world that benchmarks its students on 7 core coaching skills. It's quite surprising, that there's a whole industry of Coaches, plenty of which have never been observed putting their skills into practice. This is Part 1 of a 2 part article which describes the 7 coaching skills. So that when your coach says they're a certified Meta-Coach,  you know the basic skills that they're going to have on board, and will be able to bring to your coaching session.


The process a Meta-Coach goes through for certification is tough, and rightly so, many clients have come to expect the best of coaches to come from the Meta-Coach training system. A budding Meta-Coach attends the final module (often after years of practice in NLP) which consists of 10 days, working 12+ hours each day, learning content and putting their new skills to practice. 

New coaches are regularly put to the test in a series of 'Coaching Labs.' These are real life coaching sessions in a laboratory environment, with a bench marker by the coaches side, to assist the coach in 'deliberate practice.' The coach is given valuable immediate feedback on their competency and given steps for improvement for their next coaching lab. What's more, the budding coach gets to experience being in the seat of a bench marker, so they too get to see first hand the skills of other coaches in practice, without having to worry about what question they're going to ask next. 

It is this kind of deliberate and focused practice that transforms budding young coaches into excellent Meta-Coaches. So what are these coaches deliberately practicing?

1. Supporting

Coaching is about rapport, and in Meta-Coaching, rapport is first and foremost. You are more likely to engage fully in the coaching process if you feel understood, valued and appreciated right? A good Meta-Coach learns how to create a safe, supportive environment. There are 20 sub-skills in the skill of Supporting, so I won't list them all in detail here, but to summarize, here's some of the things your coach might do to support you; 

  • Manages the physical environment and eliminates distractions.
  • Matches your speed of information processing - giving you time when you need it to process.
  • Invites you to comment further on your emotions, gestures of physiology.
  • Validates you as a person, recognizing your heart and spirit.
  • Brings empathy and compassion to your session.
  • Inspires you to take a risk or step up to a challenge. 

This is only 6 of the 20 sub skills that a skilled Meta-Coach will bring to your session. As you can see, a lot of thought has gone into how you, the client will best feel supported when being coached. After all, the coaching session is about you!

2. Listening

It is important that you feel deeply understood and heard by your coach. In coaching, as with all effective and respectful communication, begins with an active and highly attentive listening that listens in depth to the structures behind the content. Meta-Coaches are trained in listening with their ears and eyes so that they see and hear as much as they can of what you share. Once again, there are 20 sub-skills in the skill of listening. Let's look at a few of the things you might expect from a Meta-Coach who is really listening...

  • Your coach makes eye contact with you and you do most of the talking. 
  • Your coach encourages you verbally and non-verbally to continue.
  • Your coach will review and keep track of the discussion. 
  • Your coach asks for clarity - they seek to understand your meanings.
  • Your coach might slow the conversation down.

3. Questioning

There is power in questions! When your coach asks you killer questions, it facilitates your awareness and curiosity to discover yourself and your beliefs. There are 13 sub-skills in the skill of questioning, and in Meta-Coaching we recognise at least 13 different kinds of questions that we can ask you, such as;

  • Open ended questions.
  • Testing Questions
  • Imaginative Questions
  • Collaborative Questions

... just to name a few. Questioning assists us in understanding what kind of conversation we're having. There's one question however that may be considered the most important question of your entire coaching program and that's the opening question. When you coach with a Meta-Coach, we start the session with the most important question someone can ask you in life, that is the birthing of unlocking your potential. 

modo social media white on blue - 7 Core Competencies of Meta-Coaching – Part 1
Quotation marks image 03 - 7 Core Competencies of Meta-Coaching – Part 1

What do you want to achieve in this session, that is of great importance for your development or in unleashing your highest and best potentials?

In other words... What do you really, really want?

If the answer is yes, then I'd say you have some pretty effective coaching at hand. Asking this question and setting your goal at the outset of coaching will allow you to measure your progress. More importantly, this question helps keep you and your coach on track to whether you're getting the results you'd set out to achieve.

4. Meta-Questioning

Other coaching programs may focus on supporting, listening and questioning their clients, however Meta-Questioning is a skill unique to Meta-Coaches. Your Meta-Coach has been trained in understanding the structure of thinking. Meta-Questions explore the meaning and frames you hold that aren't obvious to you, but may be in the back of your mind. Meta-Questions facilitate your coach to understand you deeply. Here is just a sample of some of the things that Meta-Questions help your coach understand about you;

  • Your beliefs and meaning structures.
  • What you value and place importance on.
  • Your intentions and the decisions you've made.
  • Your sense of self and what you believe about others.
  • Your expectations and permission frames.

A well-designed question becomes a self-correcting life map. 

-Nelson Zink, The Structure of Delight


This is the first 4 of the 7 core skills of which Meta-Coaches are trained and bench-marked. Having these skills on board allows your coach to provide a solid foundation of support for you, the client. We hope that you will feel heard and with expert questions being asked, you will have the opportunity to explore deeply your meanings and thinking structures. 

If you've read enough and want to see these skills in action, contact one of us at Modo for a free introductory coaching session. 

Want to know the other 3 of the 7 skills? Read more here...

Donna Woodrow

Donna takes a genuine interest in the collective and personal growth of the human race and its individuals. Donna is a seeker who loves to travel and invests considerable time in her own personal growth. Donna is a professional coach and trainer, experienced Enneagram facilitator and the Managing Director and Partner of Modo Coaching & Training.

Donna Woodrow

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