What does it mean to be a masterful coach? Angelos Derlopas and Melissa Kelly-McCabe explore


In the evolving landscape of coaching, the essence of mastery lies not just in the accumulation of knowledge, but in the transformative journey both the coach and client undertake. This journey, akin to Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” is a metaphorical exploration into the depths of human potential, where each stage of the coaching process mirrors the transformative path of a hero. As coaches guide their clients through this journey, they evoke awareness and facilitate growth, embodying the key competencies of a masterful coach. Here we consider a set of eight tenets of masterful coaching. 


Tenet 1. One of the most profound elements in this journey is the cultivation of vulnerability-based trust. It’s a fundamental truth that genuine trust in the coaching relationship hinges on the willingness to be vulnerable. This vulnerability is a powerful catalyst for deeper connections and more impactful coaching sessions. When coaches embrace their own vulnerability, they can establish a safe space where clients feel free to open up, share their deepest thoughts, and engage in meaningful self-exploration.


Tenet 2. The path to masterfulness is not just a step up in certification; it’s an evolutionary leap in skill level, maturity, and depth. This transition is marked by a significant shift in how coaches perceive and engage with their clients. Coachnig mastery involves a deeper understanding of human behavior, a more nuanced set of communication skills, and an ability to facilitate profound transformations in clients.


Tenet 3. Integral to this journey is understanding the role of dilemmas. Often, wrestling with a dilemma brings about the most significant introspection, awareness, and growth for a person. These challenging situations push both coaches and clients to explore new perspectives and find innovative solutions. Masterful coaches utilize skills in working with dilemmas as powerful tools that can guide a client through their uncertainties and helping them emerge stronger, more aware, and able to step more fully into who they are and who they want to be in their lives.


Tenet 4. The developmental stages of a coach, depict a journey from novice to mastery. This journey involves acquiring skills, cultivating trust, listening at a much deeper level, and parterning with the client in ways that allow them to co-create and lead the coaching. A masterful coach is always evolving, constantly refining their competencies to enhance their effectiveness.


Tenet 5. Exploring the nuances of coaching competencies reveals the importance of balance. For instance, unchecked curiosity might sometimes manifest as judgment. Learning to harness curiosity constructively is crucial in maintaining the delicate balance necessary for effective coaching.


Tenet 6. Another subtle yet powerful aspect of coaching is mining – and minding – the co-created relational energy field. This involves recognizing and harnessing the unspoken energy between coach and client to deepen presence, enhance connection, and facilitate transformative insights. This relational energy field is often where the most profound shifts occur, as it’s a space of unguarded truth and authenticity – for both the client and the coach.


Tenet 7. Ethical practice in coaching is non-negotiable. An analytical exploration of ethical worries and situations, guided by real-world cases, fortifies a coach’s commitment to ethical practice. These scenarios challenge coaches to navigate complex situations while maintaining integrity and professionalism.


Tenet 8. Lastly, embracing poetry and other creative modalities in coaching can offer unique mediums to unlock deeper introspection, promote self-awareness, and foster emotional resonance. These creative modalities are powerful tools in the coach’s arsenal, helping to articulate emotions and experiences that might otherwise be difficult to express.


While not exhaustive, these tenets begin to offer the seasoned, professional coach a glimpse into coaching mastery. The journey to becoming a masterful coach is one of continuous learning, self-reflection, and adaptation. It’s about going beyond the surface, delving into the depths of human experience, and emerging with insights that not only transform clients but also enrich the coach’s own professional and personal growth.




  • Angelos Derlopas is the founder of Positivity Coaching and an MCC (ICF) coach. Melissa Kelly-McCabe is president and CEO of Clear Intent Strategy and an MCC coach. They’re collaborating to offer the Masterful Coach programme.