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:    

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Please note, although we are offering translations, IAF will refer to the English version as an official document for any IAF programmes.



Create Collaborative Client Relationships

A1. Develop working partnerships

  • Clarify mutual commitment
  • Develop consensus on tasks, deliverables, roles & responsibilities
  • Demonstrate collaborative values and processes

A2. Design and customise processes to meet client needs

  • Analyse organisational environment
  • Diagnose client need
  • Establish stakeholders' roles and level of involvement
  • Create appropriate designs to achieve intended outcomes
  • Predefine 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 and participant diversity
  • Engage participants who have different approaches to learning and ways of processing information
  • Achieve quality outcome that meets the needs of the client

B2. Prepare time and space to support group process

  • Arrange appropriate space and logistics to support the purpose of the meeting
  • Plan effective use of time
  • Provide appropriate atmosphere to support the purpose of sessions / meetings

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 trust and safety.
  • Recognise barriers to participation and ways to address them
  • Accept all ideas without judgment
  • 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 the range of behaviours demonstrated by group members
  • Recognize and address the value of tension and conflict and its impact in arriving at a group decision
  • Be sensitive to cultural forces regarding conflict

C4. Evoke group creativity

  • Draw out participants with various approaches to learning and ways of processing information
  • Encourage creative thinking
  • 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
  • Clarify and summarise to elicit the sense of the group
  • 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 to make sense of underlying issues in their discussion, clarify 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 relevant to achieving group consensus
  • Use a variety of approaches relevant to meeting group objectives
  • Adapt processes to changing situations and needs of the group
  • Assess and communicate group progress
  • Recognise and clarify tangents in order to refocus on the task
  • Foster task completion

Build and Maintain Professional Knowledge

E1. Maintain a base of knowledge

  • Knowledge in the theory and practice of group process facilitation and related knowledge about people, organisations, groups and processes (e.g. organisational development, psychology, conflict resolution, dynamics of change, learning and thinking theory)

E2. Know a range of facilitation methods

  • Understand a range of models and/or processes that may help groups generate ideas, solve problems, prioritise, take decisions and plan
  • 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 and technologies 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 across our field

Model Positive Professional Attitude as a Process Facilitator

F1. Practice self-assessment and self-awareness

  • Reflect on behaviour and overall outcomes
  • 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 and the content of the discussions
  • 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