IAF Core Competencies


The IAF Core Competencies framework was developed over several years by the IAF with the support of its members and facilitators from all over the world. Tested over time, the six competencies form the basic set of skills, knowledge, and behaviours that facilitators must have in order to be successful facilitating in a wide variety of environments.

In response to the needs of IAF members and their clients, the Association also established the IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) designation. This credential is the leading indicator that a facilitator is competent in each of the six Core Competencies for facilitators.

The IAF Core Competencies are also at the heart of the other programmes on the IAF’s Professional Development Path. These are the Endorsed™ Facilitator, for those facilitators in the early stages of their career or for those consultants, coaches, project managers or trainers who use facilitation in their roles; and the Endorsed™ Facilitation Training Programmes, designed to promote the professionalism of facilitation training programmes.

The IAF Core Competencies were initially developed over twenty years ago and revised in 2003. The intent was an assurance that CPFs meet internationally recognised standards and commit to the IAF’s Statement of Values and Code of Ethics.

The Core Competencies have been revised again in 2021 to reflect changes in current thinking, and to provide further depth to some of the Core Competencies.

Most changes are minor, but the revisions should be reviewed in detail by anyone intending to undertake any of the IAF’s Professional Development examinations or certifications. 

All Certified™ Professional Facilitator assessments, Endorsed™ Facilitator examinations, and Endorsed Facilitation Training Programme reviews will use this revised set of competencies from 1st July 2021. 

This is a phased transition period until 31st December 2021 so you should start to prepare your documentation using the revised competencies, but any documentation already created will be accepted.

Current Core Competencies

Previous Core Competencies

Summary of the Revisions to the IAF Core Competencies July 2021

Download the IAF’s Core Competencies in:    

English        Dutch        French        Mandarin        Spanish ​​    Portuguese        Japanese    Kiswahili

Please note, here are the links to other language versions of the Current Core Competencies, but these are being updated and these versions here are not yet the latest versions.

This comment will be removed when all language versions are completely updated.


Create Collaborative Client Relationships

A1. Develop working partnerships

  • Clarify mutual commitment
  • Develop consensus on tasks, deliverables, roles & responsibilities
  • Demonstrate collaborative values and processes such as in co-facilitation

A2. Design and customize applications to meet client needs

  • Analyse organisational environment
  • Diagnose client need
  • Create appropriate designs to achieve intended outcomes
  • Predefine a quality product & outcomes with client

A3. Manage multi-session events effectively

  • Contract with client for scope and deliverables
  • Develop event plan
  • Deliver event successfully
  • Assess or evaluate client satisfaction at all stages of the event or project

Plan Appropriate Group Processes

B1. Select clear methods and processes that:

  • Foster open participation with respect for client culture, norms and participant diversity
  • Engage the participation of those with varied learning or thinking styles
  • Achieve a high quality product or outcome that meets the client needs

B2. Prepare time and space to support group process

  • Arrange physical space to support the purpose of the meeting
  • Plan effective use of time
  • Provide effective atmosphere and drama for sessions

Create and Sustain a Participatory Environment

C1. Demonstrate effective participatory and interpersonal communication skills

  • Apply a variety of participatory processes
  • Demonstrate effective verbal communication skills
  • Develop rapport with participants
  • Practice active listening
  • Demonstrate ability to observe and provide feedback to participants

C2. Honour and recognise diversity, ensuring inclusiveness

  • Encourage positive regard for the experience and perception of all participants
  • Create a climate of safety and trust
  • Create opportunities for participants to benefit from the diversity of the group
  • Cultivate cultural awareness and sensitivity

C3. Manage group conflict

  • Help individuals identify and review underlying assumptions
  • Recognise conflict and its role within group learning / maturity
  • Provide a safe environment for conflict to surface
  • Manage disruptive group behaviour
  • Support the group through resolution of conflict

C4. Evoke group creativity

  • Draw out participants of all learning/thinking styles
  • Encourage creative thinking
  • Accept all ideas
  • Use approaches that best fit needs and abilities of the group
  • Stimulate and tap group energy

Guide Group to  Appropriate and Useful Outcomes

D1. Guide the group with clear methods and processes

  • Establish clear context for the session
  • Actively listen, question and summarise to elicit the sense of the group
  • Recognise tangents and redirect to the task
  • Manage small and large group process

D2. Facilitate group self-awareness about its task

  • Vary the pace of activities according to needs of group
  • Identify information the group needs, and draw out data and insight from the group
  • Help the group synthesise patterns, trends, root causes, frameworks for action
  • Assist the group in reflection on its experience

D3. Guide the group to consensus and desired outcomes

  • Use a variety of approaches to achieve group consensus
  • Use a variety of approaches to meet group objectives
  • Adapt processes to changing situations and needs of the group
  • Assess and communicate group progress
  • Foster task completion

Build and Maintain Professional Knowledge

E1. Maintain a base of knowledge

  • Be knowledgeable in management, organisational systems and development, group development, psychology, and conflict resolution
  • Understand dynamics of change
  • Understand learning/ thinking theory

E2. Know a range of facilitation methods

  • Understand problem solving and decision-making models
  • Understand a variety of group methods and techniques
  • Know consequences of misuse of group methods
  • Distinguish process from task and content
  • Learn new processes, methods, & models in support of client’s changing/emerging needs

E3. Maintain professional standing

  • Engage in ongoing study / learning related to our field
  • Continuously gain awareness of new information in our profession
  • Practice reflection and learning
  • Build personal industry knowledge and networks
  • Maintain certification

Model Positive Professional Attitude

F1. Practice self-assessment and self-awareness

  • Reflect on behaviour and results
  • Maintain congruence between actions and personal and professional values
  • Modify personal behaviour / style to reflect the needs of the group
  • Cultivate understanding of one’s own values and their potential impact on work with clients

F2. Act with integrity

  • Demonstrate a belief in the group and its possibilities
  • Approach situations with authenticity and a positive attitude
  • Describe situations as facilitator sees them and inquire into different views
  • Model professional boundaries and ethics (as described in the IAF’s Statement of Values and Code of Ethics)

F3. Trust group potential and model neutrality

  • Honour the wisdom of the group
  • Encourage trust in the capacity and experience of others
  • Vigilant to minimise influence on group outcomes
  • Maintain an objective, non-defensive, non-judgmental stance


Join the IAF

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Learn about the CPF

IAF Certified™Professional Facilitators (CPFs) have undertaken a rigorous peer review of their experience and demonstrated skills around the IAF Core Competencies.

A Facilitator's Code of Ethics

Members of the International Association of Facilitators are committed to using Statement of Values and Code of Ethics to guide their professional practice.

Facilitation Impact Awards

The Facilitation Impact Awards honour excellence in facilitation and its positive, measurable impact on organisations around the world.

Join the IAF
Learn about the CPF
A Facilitator's Code of Ethics
Facilitation Impact Awards