School of Coaching Mastery

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ICF Credential vs. IAC Life Coach Certification

Posted by Julia Stewart

certified_coach_goldribbon.jpgI interviewed my friend and colleague, Donna Steinhorn, IAC MMC, ICF PCC, on the difference between ICF and IAC life coach certification. Unfortunately, the recording was no good, which is one of the of the many reasons that attending live is always the best policy.

The feedback from coaches who attended the interview has been awesome. So I'm going to add a few highlights here, in case you missed it.

The two organizations, themselves, are of course, the ultimate authorities on what they do and they change their policies from time to time. So if you're looking for highly detailed info, visit their respective web sites. The ICF's is coachfederation.org and the IAC's is certifiedcoach.org.

Donna has been deeply involved in coach training and certification for many years and is one of only a handful of coaches who have both ICF and IAC coach certifications, which is why I chose her for this interview ~ that, and the fact that Donna is fun to talk with.

Both Donna and I have been on the coach training and certification bandwagon for eternity (Donna is a member of SCM's Board of Advisers) - and we're both rebels, so we have a shared skepticism, as well as support of these two leading professional organizations and their respective credentialing processes.

We began our conversation by noting that there are limitations to both ICF and IAC coach certifications. Each has its own coaching competencies (or masteries, as the IAC calls theirs). Each definitely has its own coaching style, which you need to be able to demonstrate. Neither style encompasses every possible way to coach brilliantly; they're just doing the best they can.

So why are there two professional coaching organizations and certifications? Actually, there are zillions of them - some completely bogus - but these currently are the most respected. Oddly, the same man, Thomas J. Leonard, the 'Father of Professional Coaching', founded both the IAC and ICF. Thomas founded the ICF in 1995 and later, the IAC in 2003, just before he passed away.

ICF credentialing, as it's called, emphasizes coach training, mentoring and experience, as well as an online test and demonstration of coaching skill. Thomas sought to streamline the process of certification with the IAC, which emphasizes the results of coach training, mentoring and experience, rather than the documentation of it. This makes the IAC certification process a bit simpler, but it's by no means easier, because coaches need to demonstrate masterful coaching skills. Only about 25% of coaches who apply for IAC Coach Certification pass on the first try.

The ICF has three levels of coaching credentials: The Associate Credentialed Coach (ACC), The Professional Credentialed Coach (PCC), and the Master Credentialed Coach (MCC). The IAC currently has only one certification, the Certified Coach (IAC-CC), but from what I've observed, the level of coaching skill required by the IAC is roughly comparable to the ICF MCC. (UPDATE: the IAC added another 'intermediate' level of certification, as well.)

Finally, the ICF has two pathways for credentialing: The portfolio route allows you to get your coach training anywhere and the accreditation path requires you to study at an ICF accredited coach training school. The IAC doesn't require demonstration of coach training, just the results of it: masterful coaching skills. I know most IAC Certified Coaches and I believe all of them have had substantial coach training and/or mentor coaching. Donna says there may have been one coach who passed without being trained.

I asked Donna if there were any hidden costs to getting certified by either organization. She mentioned the mentor coaching requirement by the ICF, which would cost you about $350 - 400 per month, but Donna doesn't consider that a hidden cost, since all coaches need to have their own coaches at all times. Personally, I don't think anyone needs a coach every minute of their life, but coaches are foolish if they don't work with successful coaches of their own. I worked with two excellent mentor coaches while I prepared for IAC Coach Certification.

What, in Donna's opinion, is the best benefit of getting certified? She considers the coach directory on the ICF website, which only lists ICF credentialed coaches, to be by far the best benefit, because it brings her a steady stream of potential clients. We agreed that the IAC would do well to offer such a benefit to its own membership.

Finally, which coaches need certification most? Donna says corporate coaches and perhaps executive coaches, since companies usually want to see credentials. She doesn't believe life coaches need to be certified, but I've seen anecdotal evidence that clients are screening life coaches more carefully than they used to. Even new life coaches are telling me that potential clients ask about training and certification.

School of Coaching Mastery's Certified Positive Psychology Coach® program prepares coaches for ICF credentialing.

So there you have the Readers Digest version of the ICF Credentialing vs. IAC Life Coach Certification interview.

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Topics: certification requirements, coach training, coaching clients, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, IAC Certified Coach, certified coaches, Donna Steinhorn, IAC, certified coach, coach credential

What's the Difference Between a Professional Coach and an Entrepreneurial Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Professional_vs_Entrepreneurial_Coach.jpg

What's the difference between a professional coach and an entrepreneurial coach and why does it matter?

I recently received a couple of emails from someone on my mailing list who asked questions such as these. He took issue with a lead-nurturing (a type of marketing) email he received from us in which I frankly advise new coaches to get good coach training and reputable coach certification.

The writer identified himself as an entrepreneur, who offers coaching as one of his services, so I answered him in language I thought he would understand:

I said we were very clear who our ideal student is and he probably wouldn't resonate with our messages, since they are targeted at people who want to become professional coaches, rather than entrepreneurial coaches. I wasn't interested in arguing the relative merits of professionals vs. entrepreneurs, so I neglected to add that I have a strong bias toward professional coaches, for whom training and certification are a must, as opposed to entrepreneurial coaches who generally rely their reputations, experience, and instincts, to coach. That, by the way, is why I started a coach training school that certified coaches.

A coach used to be considered half professional and half entrepreneur, 15-to-20 years ago, and the Founder of the Coaching Profession, Thomas Leonard, was a perfect example. He started multiple coaching schools and professional organizations, in his lifetime, but was a classic entrepreneur who embodied the creativity, drive, productivity, and ongoing dialogue with his customers, that entrepreneurs are known for. That said, his major contribution to coaching was the turn toward professionalism and he embodied a stellar reputation for integrity, ethics, quality, and service that went way beyond profits.

The two photos above show, on the left, a professional coach who displays an openness and willingness to serve clients. On the right, shows an entrepreneur who's burning with his vision for designing a successful business. Both may be useful to coach with depending on what you want to work on. Neither is automatically better, but the professional coach is more thoroughly defined and has qualities that can be more easily recognized and evaluated.

Since Thomas' death in 2003, a leadership vacuum opened up. Much of it was filled by entrepreneurs who were focused more on marketing and sales gimmicks that drive profitability, than on helping clients grow and reach their goals. There are still a few good entrepreneurial coaches, but unfortunately they are increasingly outnumbered by scam artists and well-meaning wannabe's who may give bad advice.

I've known quite a few people whose lives have been transformed for the better by working with professional coaches. I also have known a handful of people whose lives have been ruined by entrepreneurial coaches. That doesn't mean all professional coaches are great, or that all entrepreneurial coaches are bad. Sometimes the opposite is true. It just isn't that simple, but over the years, I've moved away from the "half-professional/half-entrepreneurial" approach to coaching in favor of primarily being a professional and I advise my students to do the same, because it appears increasingly that professional coaches tend to deliver better results for clients and professional coaching is also a better model for coaching success. 

I've been clarifying the distinction between professional coaches and entrepreneurs with my Coach 100 students for over a decade and realized that it could be helpful to many of our blog readers too, so here goes.

Pro_coach_vs_entre_coach_table.jpg

Whether you are a professional coach or entrepreneurial coach isn't really an either/or choice; it's both/and. Because coaching is still not regulated, so there is tremendous freedom for practitioners. But at the same time, it's the professional side of coaching that is driving much of coaching's positive reputation.

If you're looking for a coach, you may want to use the above table to determine how professional your potential coach is. You have a bit more knowledge and power, because professional organizations define what you can expect. Also, if your coach is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), you can file a complaint against a coach-member who fails to uphold the ICF's Code of Ethics.

Remember that lead-nurturing email from above, that advises good training and certification?

Recent research by the ICF found that coaches who get good training are more successful and less likely to quit the profession, while coaching clients say, all else being equal, they prefer to work with certified coaches. If you're new to coaching, my advice is that you get both coach training and certification to increase your confidence and success.

Get Coach Training and Certification

Topics: professional coach, professional coaching, coach training, Coach 100, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, certified coaches, coaching ethics

The Top 10 Worst Advice We've Ever Heard About Becoming a Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

I truly love coaching. So much so, that I've devoted the last 15 years of my life to it (The last 9 years have been about helping life coaches, business coaches, and executive coaches succeed via School of Coaching Mastery).

Why? Because truly great coaching melds optimism, personal growth, relationship skills, and helping people be their very best. Plus, it's fun, inspiring, and a great way to make a living, unless you are one of the unlucky souls who get snagged by the wrong advice, like the poor sap JP Sears portrays in the How to Be a Life Coach (Not) video, above.

JP is playing for laughs. But here's the sad part: What he says and does in this skin-crawling satire of a life coach, is remarkably close (even identical, in some cases) to advice given by hundreds of self-proclaimed expert "coaches". You'll recognize them by the yachts, sports cars, and private planes they like to pose in front of, or in the opposite extreme, the spiritual, heart-centered props and rhetoric they used to sell their Law of Attraction "abundance" programs. Yuk.

These coaches are fake. Most don't coach at all (even if they call what they do "coaching"), or they use coaching skills to manipulate their customers into buying more and more products and programs, instead of employing those skills to help their customers succeed. This violates basic ethical practices in professional coaching.

You see, if you succeed, you won't need to buy any more advice from them, and that's no good for their bottom lines.

Here's a Top Ten List of Bad Advice for Coaches. Beware...

  1. You can't make a living as a life coach. Oh really? Why then, has coaching been one of the fastest growing professions for the past two decades? The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says professional and business services, such as  coaching, is one of the one of the fastest-growing sectors, right now. If anyone tells you that you can't make a living as a coach, ask yourself why they said that. Did it come from your sour-puss brother-in-law who pours negativity on every new idea? Maybe get a second opinion. Or does it come from a friend-of-a-friend who went broke trying to become a coach? Probably they took some of the following advice. Read on...
  2. Quit your job. If coaching is growing so fast, why not just quit your job and start coaching? Because, unless you are hired by a company, like Google, to coach their employees, you probably will be starting your own coaching business. And no business, no matter how successful it becomes, is profitable on Day One. And nobody is going to cut you a full-salary paycheck two weeks after hanging out your shingle. It takes time. Either keep your current job, or work part-time to cover your bills, while you build your awesome new business. Otherwise, terror over not having enough to cover the mortgage will make you desperate and that's when you'll become vulnerable to the following scams...
  3. Learn internet marketing. Internet marketing is a seductive hotbed of get-rich-quick schemes. Self-proclaimed million-dollar-coaches, seven-figure-coaches, wealth coaches, and gurus of every stripe will offer to teach you how to "Explode Your Profits!!!", "Live a Life of Abundance!", and more, with free webinars, cheap products, expensive workshops, and incredibly high-priced "coaching", "mentoring", or "personal advising" programs. Coaches who have been ensnared by these snake-oil salesmen have gone bankrupt, lost their homes, and more. The only people who get rich quick in this world, are the people selling the products and often even they are faking their own "success". Avoid their advice at all costs, especially if it includes...
  4. You must have a niche to succeed. I was lucky. I studied coaching with Thomas Leonard, the Founder of the Coaching Profession, who taught his students, flat out, that you don't need a niche to succeed with coaching. It's fine if you don't have one, especially when  you start out. If you develop one over time, that's fine too, but don't sweat it. Why do "experts" keep saying all coaches must have niches? Because new coaches, by definition, don't have niches, and once they "discover" that not niching will prevent them from getting clients, they go into the same fear-fueled panic that plagues coaches without enough income - and then they are ripe for all the hype internet marketers throw at vulnerable new business owners - and they start buying workbooks, seminars, and "coaching programs" that will help them discover their niches. I just talked to a former student of mine, a smart, talented, accomplished coach; who says she spent the last year taking classes and doing exercises to find her niche. It was both expensive and time-consuming and none of it helped her get clients. She's feeling a bit bitter, just like coaches who follow this bad advice...
  5. Get a web site immediately. If you're a web developer, this is the advice you'll give every new business owner. But many businesses, including most coaching businesses, don't get clients via their websites. What? Nobody will take you seriously if you don't have a web site, you say? Tell that to the thousands of successful coaches who didn't get web sites until after they'd been coaching for two or three years (including me). In the meantime, use a directory listing or Facebook page, or LinkedIn profile as your web address. You'll save time and money and will have more flexibility in developing your web presence over time. Plus, a successful coaching site needs thousands of visitors and in order to get them, you will either need to become a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, or you'll have to hire one. Then again, you'll need a web site in order to do what internet marketers say you must do in order to make millions...
  6. Sell products. These can be information products, such as audio and video recordings, workbooks or eBooks, anything to build up multiple streams of income, because you can't make a living as a coach, right? I fell for this for about a year and made much less money than I had when I just coached one-to-one. If you enjoy creating products, that's good, but unless you have thousands of people on your email list, you'll hardly sell any of them. Not nearly as good a return on investment as coaching one-to-one, which according to the most recent ICF coaching survey, pays over $200 per hour. Avoid the "products" stream at least until you have a stable full practice and you'll never have to fool with this advice...
  7. Get a sales funnel. This is another tool that only works if you have a big email list (it took me years to build mine), or fantastic SEO. Big companies often do use sales funnels effectively, but if you're a new coach, it's unlikely that a funnel will do anything but waste your time and money. Good coaches make most of their income coaching their clients and may supplement that with other services, and perhaps later on, a few products. If you're a new coach, studiously avoid this one and definitely the next...
  8. Max out your credit card. Or raid your daughter's college fund. Take out a second mortgage. Or sell one of your cars. This is the kind of bad advice fake "coaches" give when a customer tells them they aren't succeeding and are too broke to buy a $15,000 - 40,000 Platinum Program to get the information they really, really need to succeed. Again, if you're getting desperate, you will be more susceptible to this underhanded sales scheme. In fact, economic behaviorists have discovered something they call the "sunk-cost fallacy", in which people who are losing money, will continue to spend in a desperate attempt to recoup what they've lost. You see this all the time in casinos. And it's one reason marketing funnels work. The more someone spends, but doesn't quite get what they need, the more likely they will keep spending on the same stuff. I thought I was too smart for this, until I caught myself doing it, once. I was feeling a little desperate at the time, which is one reason why the following advice is so terrible...
  9. Don't get coach training. There's an old coaching guard out there that never got training, because there was none when they started coaching. Coaching scammers and internet marketers point to those veteran coaches as proof that nobody needs coach training. Why would they do that? Because a good coach training program will give you confidence, teach you what works, and warn you about what to avoid. Not good for those who want to prey on you. By the way, the ICF has found that coaches with training become successful more quickly, make more money, and are less likely to get discouraged and quit the profession. Good training is a lot less expensive than losing your shirt. And that brings us to our final bit of terrible advice...
  10. Don't get coach certification. Again, some coaches will angrily fight the idea that they need any type of credential. I suspect the anger is a cover for insecurity and more than a little paranoia. Because, once you're certified by a reputable organization, that fear tends to vanish, and because you've got a stamp of approval from a trusted source, that says you've got the right stuff. Will your clients ask you about it? Some will; some won't. Why lose even one client, because you didn't bother to get certified? According to the ICF, 84% of actual coaching clients say, coach certification is an important consideration for them. In some parts of the world, that percentage is even higher.

So there you have the worst possible advice for new life, business, and executive coaches.

If you don't have the training and certification you need yet, the ICF can point you to where to get it. And you can also get it here:

Check Out Coach Training Programs Here.

 

 

 

Topics: executive coach, coach training, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, becoming a coach

The Future of Coaching: New 2016 ICF Global Coaching Survey Results

Posted by Julia Stewart

ICF_Logo.jpgThe International Coach Federation (ICF) is the oldest (est. 1995) and largest (23,790 members, as of June 2016) not-for-profit professional coach association and certifier of life, business, and executive coaches (18,710 current ICF certified credential holders).

Periodically, the ICF, via PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, administers a global study of coaches worldwide (including non-ICF members), the results of which, comprise a snapshot of where the profession of coaching is, right now, and where it seems to be headed. These coaching results may be the most accurate available.

Here are some fascinating highlights...

  • Over 15,000 respondents, from 137 countries, took the survey.
  • The ICF estimates there are over 50,000 professional coaches, worldwide.
  • Coaching earns over $2 Billion per year in US Dollars.

How much do coaches earn, yearly?

  • Income varies widely, but then, so does purchasing power.
  • Other factors include number of years practicing and type of coaching practiced.
  • Globally, coaches average $51,000 per year USD.
  • The highest earners are in Oceania ($73,000+), followed by N. America (almost $62,000), and W. Europe ($55,000+).
  • Lowest earnings are in E. Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean ($18,000+ - $27,000+).
  • Most coaches (75%) expect their annual income to increase in the near future.
  • Some coaches (45%) expect their fees to increase in the near future.

Do coaches need coach training and certification?

The future of coaching:

  • The largest numbers of coaches see the greatest opportunities in Increasing awareness of the benefits of coaching (38%) and credible data on the ROI/ROE of coaching (26%).
  • An amazing 84% of coaches believe coaching can influence social change (that's one of the reasons I started this school).
  • 54% believe coaching should be regulated.
  • 85% of those believe professional coaching associations should be the regulators.

Get 125 ICF Approved Hours of Coach-Specific Training Here:

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

 

Topics: Coaching, coach training, ICF, life coach salary, Coach Certification, future of coaching

ICF Master Certified Coach: Join Me on the Journey

Posted by Julia Stewart

Master Certified Coach

The ICF's Master Certified Coach (MCC) is generally considered the ultimate in coach certifications. And since I run School of Coaching Mastery, it seems fitting that I have that credential. For the nearly fifteen years that I've been coaching, though, I really didn't need it. Here's a short history of coach certifications and why the ICF's is more important than ever.

Way back in the beginning, when Thomas Leonard started the IAC (called the International Association of Certified Coaches, or IACC, back then), I was only interested in getting that credential. Despite Thomas' passing in 2003, the IAC did certify coaches and I got to be among the first certifiers (via CoachVille) and was eventually given the title of Lead Certifier for the Thomas Leonard Coaching School, where we certified most IAC-CCs from 2003 through 2005, until the IAC split from CoachVille. But after that split, IAC certification gradually slowed to a trickle. Without Thomas in the lead, the IAC just didn't have the visibility it needed to fulfill its promise.

Of course, the ICF was founded by the same Thomas Leonard years earlier (1995, making it a ripe old 20 years, now). Its certifications (ACC, PCC, and MCC) required way more hoops to jump through, including training hours, mentor coaching, coaching hours, etc., but it already had a powerful toe-hold by the time the upstart IAC came around and the IAC never slowed it down.

I think the competition actually has been good for everyone; the ICF has now made some important improvements to their certification process, so it's more respectable than ever. And although other not-for-profit coach certifiers have come around, such as the Center for Credentialing and Education, with its Board Certified Coach credential, the ICF is still the leader in coaching certifications.

In the meantime, the IAC seems to be licensing schools more than it's certifying coaches. Just today, their newsletter, the IAC Voice, mentioned three new school applications and one new certified coach. That's been par for the course for several years now and it's an unworkable business model. If the IAC licenses more schools to teach its Masteries each year than it certifies coaches, that means, on average, each of those schools has a chance to graduate one fraction of a certified coach per year. See what I mean? Why bother?

School of Coaching Mastery was the first school to be licensed by the IAC worldwide, but with so few coaches interested in IAC certification and even fewer succeeding at getting certified by the IAC, it has started to feel a little like false advertising to call ourselves IAC Licensees, because our students just aren't getting certified by the IAC, anymore (so I'm thinking about dropping our IAC license next year).

Our students are getting certified by the ICF, however.

That brings me back to my MCC journey. Although I've had the IAC's master-level certification for years, now that I have an ICF-approved coach training program, the ICF wants me to get certified by them.

More importantly, after all these years, I feel like I really want this credential. So I'm on my way and using my love of learning to dive deep into the ICF approach to masterful coaching.

Curious what it takes to get the MCC? I have on good authority that they only pass 7% of coaches who apply for the MCC, so statistically, I have a 93% chance of failing the first time. That's okay, because there's a 100% chance I'll keep sending them coaching sessions until they pass me, so that MCC pin is nearly mine (at least in my head).

To keep myself honest and on track (accountability, anyone?), I'm writing about my experiences and discoveries in this blog. I'll keep you posted.

Want to learn more about becoming a coach and getting certified? Get the "Become a Coach!" eBook, below.

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Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, master coach, BCC, MCC, IAC, certified coach

Coach Certification: Should the ICF and IAC Change How They Certify Coaches?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coach Certification

Coach Certification: The Great Debate

The ongoing debate about coach certification, coaching qualifications, and the profession of coaching was raised again today by Kerryn Griffiths, who runs ReciproCoach (an organization that has formalized the old laissez faire practice of buddy coaching, as a method of gaining practice for coaches) in an article called, "Where is coaching regulation headed?" Her article, which is only available to members of ReciproCoach, offers the rather alarming proposal that currently certified coaches might not be allowed to coach, anymore. While I disagree that this is a legitimate worry, I share some of the questions raised by Kerryn, as well as by the authors of a research paper liberally quoted by her: "From Competencies to Capabilities in the Assessment and Accreditation of Coaches (Bachkirova and Smith, 2015).

The process of certifying coaches based on competencies dates back about 20 years and it has been challenged many times. Does it really measure quality coaching? Do certified coaches really coach any more effectively than those who aren't certified? Which certification process is best? What does the research say?

I've been grading coaching sessions using coaching models invented by me, or by Thomas Leonard, or by the ICF, or IAC for over twelve years. What I can tell you is that none of the models I've used is perfect. They all miss possible approaches to coaching, because coaching is a process created in the moment by coaches and their clients and coaching models are all based on past experience.

Also, the coaching models currently in use by the ICF and IAC are not based on research, mainly because they were created before much research had been done on coaching. However, some recent research supports the skills the IAC and ICF advocate. For instance, asking is indeed usually more useful than telling and asking, "how?" tends to be more useful than asking, "why?".

My main complaints with both ICF and IAC certification models is that they really are both styles of coaching; they do not represent all good coaching. If you sent me two recordings of coaching sessions, one that passed ICF certification and the other that passed the IAC, I'm pretty certain I could tell you which was which. (Come to think of it, please don't send me any coach recordings. I'm busy enough, thanks.)

Also, competency-based coaching (the IAC calls their IP, "masteries", but the certification is still competency-based) has a way of limiting options and it encourages a tendency toward perfectionism in both coaches and certifiers. Perfectionism is fear-based (fear of being found flawed) and leads to constriction, limitation and less innovation; hardly good qualities for coaching.

In my opinion, there are at least a thousand styles of coaching that could be effective with the right clients in the right circumstances and most haven't been invented, yet.

A few years ago, I started telling my students who sat for certification, "Surprise me. I'd love to learn something new from you." And a few of them have, indeed, opened my eyes to new possibilities. Most coach certifications aren't like that.

But research has its limitations, too. Findings are sometimes only valid within a very narrow set of conditions and sometimes researchers miss or confuse what's really going on. In the end, all we ever have is our best guess. That doesn't mean we shouldn't investigate, only that we need to hold our findings lightly.

So is it worthwhile getting certified? I think it is. For one thing, most coaches want to be certified for some great reasons. Plus, if you can shoe-horn yourself into one of these coaching styles, you probably have many coaching tools in your tool belt and you know how to use them. Don't worry if every session you do wouldn't pass. Do remember that these coaching styles represent less than 1% of what may be effective. A few years ago, I suggested Tony Robbins couldn't pass ICF or IAC certification. What's the difference? Here's a brief comparison of ICF and IAC certifications.

New certifications and certifying organizations may come along. They might be better. Bachkirova and Smith offer an interesting model based on capabilities. I'll need to hear it in action before I jump on board. Presumably, they will research it, first.

My personal opinion is that most certifications focus too much on the coach and not enough on the client, where the evidence of success can be observed. Does the client open up to more possibilities, have insights and increased clarity that lead to enthusiasm, growth and solutions, plus action plans, supportive infrastructures and next steps? If clients are revisited days or weeks after the coaching, will certifiers find that they followed through on plans made during coaching and their lives are indeed transformed? If so, who cares how the coach got them there? The ICF and IAC do look at these, but I'm suggesting they mostly look at client outcomes, rather than coaching behaviors. I'm guessing researchers will be looking at both.

When enough research has been done, maybe - this is a BIG maybe - coach certification will be perfected.

In the meantime, the ICF is the main game in town. The IAC offers an alternative, but needs to certify a lot more coaches to stay competitive. I've heard a suggestion that they let their licensees start certifying coaches for them and that may be a great solution. In any case, if coaching is ever regulated in your country, being certified by the ICF or IAC will likely grandfather you in.

Coaching schools, such as School of Coaching Mastery, often offer their own coach certifications.

Are you interested in getting coach certification?

Join Coaching Groundwork Advanced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, Tony Robbins, life coach certification, IAC, Masteries

How Does Positive Psychology Coaching Work?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology CoachingI've blogged a lot about positive psychology coaching, in the past couple of years. It gives coaches and their clients a precision instrument for building happiness, success, and ease. But recent discoveries that point to how and why positive psychology works are truly fascinating! 

You probably already know what positive pychology coaching is; it's evidence-based coaching that puts in action what positive psychology researchers have discovered about the power of positivity and how it promotes happiness, health, and success.

But just exactly how does positive psychology coaching promote happiness, health, and success? 

Well, there are a number of scientific theories, such as systems theory and quantum theory, that can help to explain how positive psychology coaching works, but the explanations are speculative, at this point. No one has yet traced those theories, step by step, to document how exactly they influence human behavior and outcomes. It just makes sense that they do.

The field of neuroscience, on the other hand, thoroughly tracks what happens during insights, actions, learning, and repetition, explaining in detail what happens and why.

Neuroscience explores how the brain works via brain scans and other high-tech tools. It literally looks at what goes on in the brain at the cellular, and even the molecular levels, and they are quite surprising!

In fact, some coaching leaders, most notably, David Rock, go so far as to say neuroscience is the scientific field most closely related to coaching, in part, because it came of age during the decades when coaching was being born, so coaching has relied heavily upon it.

In my opinion, however, positive psychology is an even better fit with coaching, because not only did it develop at exactly the same time as coaching, but positive psychologists and coaches ask exactly the same fundamental question: 

What makes people happy, healthy, and successful?

Contrary to previous assumptions, an absence of mental illness does not automatically produce happiness, health, and success. That latter state, often referred to as well-being, is a separate thing. It can exist, counter-intuitively, along side mental illness, or it can be completely absent in someone who is free of mental illness. 

It follows then, that if we want to be happy (and everyone, from the Dalai Lama to Tony Robbins, says that's what every human being really wants), we need to understand the tools that produce happiness.

And here's critical news for coaches: getting what we want doesn't make us happy, at least not for more than a day or two. Happiness is literally an inside job. Anyone can have it, regardless their circumstances or mental health.

Up until now, only a lucky few stumbled onto the tools that produced lasting happiness. Yes, philosophers and spiritual teachers theorized and taught how to lead the good life for millenia, but they didn't always get it right. Today, maybe, just maybe, we can get it right - for everybody.

So that's the job of positive psychology researchers and the professionals who apply positive psychology in their coaching. And here's how and why, according to neuroscience,  it all works so well:

  • The brain and mind are intimately connected. Scientists disagree on which creates which, but evidence suggests they create each other and the mind definitely influences the brain.
  • The brain grows and changes throughout life, making learning possible and desirable into old age. In fact, dementia might be thought of as the cessation of learning.
  • New brain growth is triggered by new insights and learning, creating new neural maps. This is called, neuro-plasticity.
  • Neural maps develop when existing neurons fire, then wire, together. Sometimes new neurons are produced, as well.
  • Neural maps drive our assumptions and habits, saving us time and energy when we repeat experiences and actions, but those assumptions and habits may not be as resourceful, or flexible, as needed, when clients step up to new and bigger things, so they need to be replaced by new neural maps.
  • More repetition creates stronger bonds within neural maps that are frequently used. Think: recording a song onto a cassette tape, rather than downloading it to your iPhone. Stronger bonds require more time to develop.
  • Our internal chatter also creates neural maps - and it may be even more influential than our actual experiences!
  • We can intentionally direct our thoughts and emotions to create more positive and resourceful neural maps. This is called, self-directed neuroplasticity.
  • Because neural maps develop according to what we think and feel, positive thoughts and feelings don't just make us happy now, they also make it more likely we'll be happy later, regardless our circumstances.
  • People who experience more positivity on a regular basis are more likely to thrive and experience success.
  • Coaches who assist clients in developing resourceful neural maps are practicing coach-assisted neuroplasticity.
So solving your client's problems, or even helping them get what they want, falls short of positive psychology coaching's true power to transform client's lives from striving to thriving.

 

Is all this making your brain hurt? Take a musical "happy break".

 

 

 

 

Learn more here:

 

Become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach

Topics: Coaching, coach training, coaching success, Coach Certification, Tony Robbins, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Martin Seligman

Do You Need to Be Certified to Become a Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

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If you're thinking about becoming a coach, then you may also be wondering if you need to become a certified coach and if so, what certifications do you need?

Some coaches will tell you, "No, you don't need to be certified to become a coach."

I'm going to tell you why that's terrible advice and why you do need to get certified, especially if you're a new coach who wants to succeed. My information comes from several large surveys of the coaching industry and my experience working with thousands of coaches. But don't take my word for it. Once you have the facts, make up your own mind and set yourself up for success.

#1 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

According to research by Coaching Sherpa and others, professional coaches with training & certification earn more, become successful more quickly, and are less likely to drop out of the profession.

According to School of Coaching Mastery's own research, 80.6% of all coaches wish they were more successful. Why lose even one good potential client because you don't have some letters after your name?

Do I need to be certified to become a coach

#2 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Certification helps distinguish you from non-coaches who call themselves coaches, and who often mislead or even harm clients. As more scandals arise about so-called coaches, authentic professional coaches seek reputable certifications as a way to assure potential clients that they are genuine coaches.

#3 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Rightly or wrongly, most people assume that certified professionals are better than those who are uncertified. Yes, there may be uncertified coaches who are good, but the public doesn't always know who they are. In the absence of a good referral from a trusted friend, many people look for certification, which essentially is a stamp or approval from a trusted source.

#4 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Your clients probably want you to be certified. According to a survey by the ICF, 84% of actual coaching clients said coaching credentials were "important" or "very important" to them. This flies in the face of what some coaches say, which is that clients don't care about certification. Evidently most do, and the numbers go up according to region, with 91% of the general public (not just actual coaching clients) in Latin America stating that certification is important. Not only that, but according to SCM's own survey, 82.8% of professional coaches said they would feel more competitive if they were certified and 76% said they would sign on more paying clients. 

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#5 Reason you need to become a certified coach:


You probably want to be certified. According to the SCM survey, Do You Need Coach Certification?, which to date has been completed by 1,239 coaches worldwide, when asked if they intuitively want to get certified (in other words, is this what you really want, or is it just what you think you should do), 75.7% of professional coaches said they want to get certified.

Do you need coach certification

#6 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

Someday you may legally need to be. Most people who want to become business, executive or life coaches wonder if they need credentials in order to legally practice coaching. In most places the answer currently is, "No", but that may change. No one knows for sure what will happen, but having a recognized certification, such as ICF or IAC, can help grandfather you in, if/when regulation comes.

#7 Reason you need to become a certified coach:

You'll become a better coach. No, letters after your name won't magically make you better. But preparing for an oral certification exam will. I've learned something new with every certification that I've qualified for and I've seen hundreds of other coaches improve, as well. Great coaches tend to be more successful.

#8 Best reason you need to become a certified coach:

Regardless of the laws where you live, if you think like a coach, then you've evolved away from thinking that just having enough to get by is okay, and you actively choose to set yourself up for success in every way possible, instead. You're interested in best practices, not just minimum standards. Coach certification helps set you up for success and it represents coaching best practices.

Given all the good reasons why coaches, especially new coaches, benefit from coach certification, I sometimes wonder why some coaches persist in telling new coaches they don't need it. Do they secretly want new coaches to fail, so there will be less competition? Are they terrified that the march toward professionalism will leave them in the dust? I don't know. But whenever I write about certification, some disgruntled coach leaves an angry, jeering, or paranoid comment on this blog, or on Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Clearly this is a hot-button issue for some. But if you're a new coach, don't just take advice. Get the facts and decide for yourself.

Take the survey, "Do You Need Coach Certification?". It'll help you decide if certification is right for you, based on your own  answers.

Ready to become a certified coach? Explore certification options here. Or check out our entry-level training and certification:

Become a Certified Competent Coach

Topics: become a life coach, become a coach, become a business coach, ICF, becoming a certified coach, Coach Certification, IAC Certification, Become a Certified Coach, certified coach

New Stanford Study Says CEOs Want a Lot More Executive Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Executive Life CoachingEverybody knows that CEOs and Executives are the folks who all have high-priced executive life coaches. But a new study from Stanford University says there's a big gap between the number of executives who want coaching and the number who actually get it.

How many executives want coaching? According to Stanford, virtually 100% want coaching and consulting. How many actually get it? Only 34%. That's a lot of need for executive coaching services that's not being met.

By the way, what's the difference between life coaching and executive coaching? Not much, according to Sherpa. Executive coaches use many of the same communication and awareness-building skills that life coaches use. The difference is largely in who gets coached and how much is charged for it, with executive coaches averaging roughly double what life coaches charge. 

To become an executive coach it's important to have a recognized coach certification. Currently ICF certification is preferred by large organizations. You also need experience, a great track record and training in areas like positive psychology. Understanding corporate politics may matter, but some coaches say it's more advantageous to come from a background that's completely different from that of big business. To understand why, read the four main reasons CEOs and executives want coaching...

Why do 100% of CEOs and Executives want coaching?

  1. They want to learn how to handle conflict better. 
  2. They want to learn to mentor and develop talent.
  3. They need to learn to share leadership and delegate.
  4. They need to improve team building.
These skills are all about cooperation, not the competitive, swim-with-the-sharks approach that the upper echelans of business are known for.

 

What are CEOs and Executives NOT interested in? Motivation, compassion, empathy; these life coaching 'soft' skills aren't sought after by executives, but can be powerful add-ins when combined with the more tangible wants, above. Smart coaches have always marketed and sold what clients want, while adding in important soft skills as their 'secret sauce'.

 

CEOs and executives also want advice, because they make big decisions daily and they know they don't know it all. But there's a big difference between wanting advice and taking the advice given. That's where coaching skills trump consulting. Coaches communicate in ways that make it far more likely that clients will act upon good ideas.

 

For more on why CEOs value executive coaching, watch this Forbes video interview of Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, who says the best advice he ever got was to get a coach.

 

Want to become an executive coach? Get the coach training and certification you need. If you're a high achiever, get your own executive coach, as well.

 

Learn About Elite Coaching for High Achievers

Topics: executive coach, executive coaching, ICF, life coach salary, Coach Certification, Become a Certified Coach, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology

Top Ten Reasons You Need a Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

Do I need a coach?

 

Have you ever wondered, "Do I need a coach?" If so, this post is for you...

 

I've put together 10 of the best reasons to find a coach. And when I say, "coach" I mean a certified life coach, business coach, executive coach, career coach, relationship coach, wellness coach, etc. Make sure your coach has a reputable certification and some excellent recommendations. Most good coaches do.

 

Here are the Top Ten Reasons You Need a Coach:

 

  1. Your life, business, career, relationship, etc., is already good, but you want it to be much, much better. Coaching isn't a crisis intervention. Nor is it a substitute for psychotherapy, or advice from a professional such as an attorney, accountant, physician, etc. If things are basically good, but you know they could be a lot better and you're ready for that to happen, that's a great time for you to hire a coach.
  2. You want YOU to be much, much better. Just because most things are going well, doesn't mean you don't want to improve them and that includes yourself. Many people hire a coach because they know they are built for more and they want to reach their full potential sooner, rather than later. This is different from being insecure. People derive considerable joy from stepping into their personal greatness. In fact, some people believe this is the single biggest source of happiness. Great coaches are experts at eliciting their clients' personal greatness.
  3. You're going through a big transition. Change can be difficult, even when it's what you want. Anytime you go through a big transition such as starting a new business or career, getting divorced, moving to a new city, going back to school, etc.; it's a great time to have someone who believes in you and who can help you make the most crucial choices as smoothly as possible. A good coach won't take you on unless they truly believe in you.
  4. You're a high achiever. This is the type of client I prefer to work with. High achievers tend to be driven and good at success, but they don't always create the success they really want. If you're ever wondered, "Is this all there is?", or "How did I get myself into this and how do I get out?", you could really benefit from working with a great coach. Everybody has a few blind spots. In fact, neuroscientists say we are unconscious of 95% of what goes on in our brains. Think about that! A good coach can see you as you are, without judgment, and help you be your best and achieve what you're built to do. Just ask Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, Who needs a coach?
  5. You want more meaning in your life. "Meaning" is what makes your heart sing. It generally comes from doing what matters most to you. This gets much easier when you understand what you most value and find cool  ways to express it. If life feels a little shallow, or you don't know why you do what you do anymore, you could really benefit from working with a great coach.
  6. You want to take better care of yourself. Most of us were taught to take pretty good care of ourselves. That's fine if you want an average life. But people who accomplish great things often need to upgrade their lives tremendously before that's even possible. They need clearer boundaries, a physical environment that's supportive, more organization (or an organized assistant), enough rest, great stress management, and/or people who "get" them and who are actively supportive. Otherwise, "death by a thousand cuts" will slice their dreams to shreds. Good coaches know how to assist their clients to get the wonderful self care they truly need, to step into the lives they were built to live.
  7. You want to upgrade the people in your life. I don'tknow about you, but I used to choose my friends according to who I had the most fun with. They weren't always the nicest or most evolved people. Eventually, I realized I wanted to upgrade my friendships. Then I realized (gulp), I needed to upgrade myself in order to attract the people I wanted to spend more time with. It wasn't that hard, because my coaches helped me do it. I set higher standards for myself and started living up to them. I found others who lived up to similar standards and we were naturally attracted to each other. Now when I choose friends, I find people who are supportive, really supportive. And they've got a friend for life.
  8. You want to make more money. It might seem crass to bring up money right after talking about meaning, values, high standards and good friends, but let's face it, a great life or career usually includes enough money, sometimes lots of it. Many people hire coaches when they want to upgrade their careers or launch a new business. The funny thing is that values, high standards, good relationships, etc., tend to make people more successful in many areas, including finances. One thing a great coach can do is help you get over any internal blocks (we're back to that unconscious 95%) you may have about making plenty of money. In fact, eliminating all sorts of internal blocks is one of the ways good coaches help their clients enjoy success of all kinds. 
  9. You're willing to invest in yourself. This is about so much more than money. Are you prepared to take the time, effort, risk and yes, money, in order to have the life or business of your dreams? Or are you satisfied playing small? Are you ready to stop talking about your dreams and start living them? If you had the right coach in your corner, would you have the courage to step into your greatness? Only you can answer that.
  10. You're a coach. If there's one profession where you really do need a coach most, it's coaching, itself. Although coaching is still one of the fastest growing careers, success with coaching is definitely not a slam dunk. Every successful coach I've ever known has had his/her own coaches, usually several. It helps us keep growing and stay out ahead of our clients. And it's an integrity issue for us; we can't expect people to hire us, when we're not willing to hire our own coaches. That's one reason I offer a coach training, plus mentor coaching package for coaches who are high achievers.

 

 

This is a recent testimonial from one of my clients:

 

"When I hired Julia as my mentor coach, I wasn't entirely sure I needed it. I had quite a bit of education and experience already and the industry does not require certified coaching credentials to be recognized as a coach. I wasn't sure it would be a good investment for the money. After coaching for 3 months with Julia and taking several classes at SCM, I can say that not only was this a great investment but possibly the best investment I have made in my career. I would recommend this to experienced coaches as well as inexperienced coaches. The value of the service far exceeds the cost, which makes this a savvy investment in YOU!" - Patrice Swenson, CCC, Winona, MN

 

I have a couple of spots open for new coaching clients. If you'd like to discuss how Elite Coaching for High Achievers might help you, click below:

 

Learn About Elite Coaching for High Achievers

Topics: business coach, life coach, executive coach, coach training, coaching clients, Coach Certification, Great Self Coaching, certified coach, FIND A COACH

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