Although in recent years coaching has come to be accepted by most organizations as a useful process for professional and organizational development, there is still some ambiguity on the advantages of hiring ‘’certified’’ as opposed to ‘’uncertified’’ coaches. This article is an attempt to bring some clarity to this important question.
According to Wikipedia the word ‘’coach’’ first appeared in 1830, and was used by Oxford University as a slang reference for a ‘’tutor’’, but the idea of coaching soon gained in popularity and quickly moved beyond the university setting. By 1861 the term had made its way into the world of athletic development but there it remained for the next 100 years. It is only in the last 25 years that the idea of coaching has evolved beyond the sports arena and found its way into the corporate office in the form of executive and leadership coaching.
I believe that the emergence and growth of executive coaching as a legitimate occupation, and the credibility that it enjoys in today’s corporate world, can be directly traced to the founding of the International Coaching Federation (ICF) in 1995. Some of this credibility is the result of ICF’s articulation of clear ethical guidelines, the identification of essential coaching competencies, and the creation of a credentialing process that ensures a high standard of professional excellence.
Yet in spite of ICF’s efforts to create high standards and regulate the coaching profession, there are no legal restrictions on who can identify themselves a coach. As a result, in the current reality organizations and individuals who wish to acquire the services of a coach are left to make a choice between a non-certified coach and a certified coach, often without knowing or fully understanding the advantages that hiring a certified coach provides. In order to provide clarity and to assist organizations and leaders in making an informed decision about who to hire, this article will focus on what I believe to be the three greatest advantages to engaging the services of a certified coach.
High Educational Standards.
To acquire a base certification through ICF (ACC), prospective coaches are required to complete training through a recognised coach training program that combines the study of various coaching models and the development and application of coaching techniques. In addition, before receiving a ICF accreditation graduates of any coaching program must accumulate 100 hours of actual coaching experience (some of it supervised by experienced coaches) and successfully complete a coach knowledge assessment.
Following initial certification, the ICF coach is required to renew his/her credential bi-annually, a process which requires the accumulation of further educational credits, additional coaching hours and successfully passing a second coach knowledge assessment.
These rigorous educational requirements ensure that all coaches possessing an ICF credential have been trained to the highest level of professional standards, have accumulated significant coaching hours and experience, and that the quality of their coaching is continuously monitored and verified to ensure continued excellence.
Clear Policies and Ethical Standards
When an organization or a C.E.O. hires a coach they are committing to a process of professional and personal development, a process which will by its nature, expose vulnerabilities, identify areas for development and challenge leaders to consider new possibilities and approaches. To establish the confidence leaders and organizations require to willingly enter into this type of relationship, it is essential for them to be able to trust both the coach and the coaching process. Answering the following questions will serve as a good foundation for building that trust.
Choosing a coach who is accredited through ICF will help answer these essential questions so that the focus of the organization/leader can shift away from a coach’s qualifications and concentrate on how well the potential coach fits with the organizations own vision and values.
Coach Accountability and Professional Governance.
I.C.F’s commitment to setting a high standard of professional excellence for the coaching profession means they carefully govern the coaching industry and monitor the development and professionalism of all ICF accredited coaches. This is accomplished through a clear and rigorous accreditation process. A process that provides coaches the opportunity to progress through three levels of professional designations, Associate Certified Coach (ACC), Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and Master Certified Coach (MCC). To attain these professional designations the coach must complete a prescribed number of coach training credits, accumulate a predetermined number of coaching hours and be able to satisfactorily demonstrate their coaching competence. This ensures that all ICF certified coaches are well trained, experienced coaches and are well equipped to provide high quality transformational coaching to their clients.
In conclusion I want to raise a final consideration. In order to ensure proper management of their financial resources organizations place a significant emphasis on the training and qualifications of those they hire to manage and administrate them. My hope is that this article on the advantages of hiring ICF certified coaches will encourage organizations to apply this same diligence to the management and development of their human resources.