Presence in Coaching

Presence in Coaching by Diane Shaver, RN, MSN, NC-BC

A friend of mine recently shared old class photographs from my childhood elementary school on social media; I thoroughly enjoyed the brief trip down memory lane. One particular thing that came to mind was of my elementary school teacher taking attendance by reading the list of names from her grade book every morning, and again after lunch. As our name was called out, we were to respond in a loud voice and say: “Present!” This indicated we were in our seat, mentally engaged, and listening to the teacher read the roster. The roll-call worked well to keep the attention and focus of 20 children, and it got me wondering…


What does it mean to be “present” in coaching?Here & Now street sign


Coaching presence is referred to by the International Coach Federation (ICF) Core Competencies under Co-Creating the Relationship as the “ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.” (International Coaching Federation, 2015)

In The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching, coaching presence is discussed as the Nurse Coach “becoming fully present with self and client before initiating the coaching interaction.” (Hess et al., 2013, Page 4), and discussed in more detail as “the condition of being consciously and compassionately in the present moment with another, believing in her or his inherent wholeness, whatever the current situation.” (Page 52) The American Nurses Association Standard 5, is in alignment with this, and references coaching presence as becoming and remaining “fully present, centered and grounded.” (Page 29)

These references lead me to believe that in coaching, our strategies for establishing and maintaining coaching presence emerge from the very foundation of our connection to the client; as we demonstrate genuine respect and concern for our clients, we establish a sense of trust and intimacy. Our coaching presence is sustained throughout each session as we remain engaged with our client, listen deeply, and demonstrate non-judgment to their story as it unfolds. We are present with our clients, walking next to and a little behind, and sometimes, waiting in silence as they become aware of their next step.

Authentic coaching presence is far different than shouting “Present!” when my name was called out in elementary school, yet during coaching sessions, I sometimes hear my quiet inner voice echoing that phrase from my past, reminding me that I am indeed, present.

What does being “present” in coaching mean to you?


Hess et al., The Art and Science of Nurse Coaching: The provider’s guide to coaching scope and competencies. (Silver Spring, MD: American Nurses Association, 2013).

International Coaching Federation, “Core Competencies.” (accessed November 9, 2015).


Diane Shaver, RN, MSN, NC-BC is a Registered Nurse and a graduate of the Wisdom of the Whole Coaching Academy. Diane has over 35 years experience in caring for adults and children in acute care hospitals and community health settings with a focus on patient education, health promotion, and holistic nursing.


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