The world of professional coaching can be confusing. There are a lot of certifications and often a coach will have an array of letters behind their name which can be intimidating for a prospective client. In this post, I want to share a couple of tips to consider when you hire a coach.
A certification is typically granted by a private, non-governmental institution to an individual after they have completed a course of study in a particular area of instruction. Examples include Wellness Coaching, Executive Coaching, Business Coaching. The thing to consider here is who is granting the certification and the quality of the program. Some coaching certification programs are pretty short, involve little interaction with peers and instructors, and lack supervision. The course content may be minimal and formulated on individual standards rather than widely accepted competencies. Other certifications may be lengthy, immersed in a collegiate culture, structured, supervised and generally of high quality.
A good rule of thumb to consider is to make sure the coach has a certification or experience in the area that you need coaching in. Do this by asking questions and probing, in fact treat your initial conversation with a potential coach as an interview.
The number of institutions that offer a coaching credential is much smaller than those that offer certification. In the world of coaching, likely the most important credentials are offered by the International Coach Federation. ICF credentials are the associate certified coach (ACC), professional certified coach (PCC), and master certified coach (MCC). Credentialing requires the coach to gain structured education and demonstrate expertise and skills. Additionally, ICF credentialed coaches commit themselves to adhering to high professional standards and a strong code of ethics. You can learn more about the ICF and it's credentialing process here: https://www.coachfederation.org/credential/?navItemNumber=502.
If a coach is attempting to work in the corporate, non-profit or government worlds, the hiring authority will likely expect the coach to be credentialed by the ICF.
If you are considering a coach, I encourage you to look for a coach that has the certifications, experience and formal education that not only creates a sense of confidence with you but more importantly, meets your coaching needs. Additionally, go the extra step and make sure your potential coach is credentialed by the International Coach Federation.
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Scott Howard is a professional executive coach and leadership coach focusing on human empowerment and maximizing potential.