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ICF-certified coaches vs others

Some 11 years ago, I went on a serious search, not only to look for an alternative helping profession apart from training and counselling, but also for the most creditable professional body to represent it.

Eventually my search took me to coaching and the International Coach Federation (ICF) in the US as the ultimate professional body to represent this field.

Convinced that this was it, I have stood by it till this very day. The "reward" of this investment is that the ICF (www.coachfederation.org www.coachfederation.org) is now deeply rooted, not only in Malaysian soil, but also in other Southeast Asian countries, as well - in particular, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia.

In recent years, many more events and activities around coaching have been taking place. Choices, confusion and ambiguities come along with this development. Therefore, it is time I share my views and rationale as to why the ICF is still the coaching body that serious-minded coaches should be affiliated to.

Why talk about the ICF now?

There are two main reasons. Firstly, there are many more coaching bodies now than before. Second, there are more and more people embarking on coaching as a long-term career. In view of this, "educating" them to make well-informed decisions is my mission. This is simply because I do not want people to be disillusioned and even regret their actions later for not considering other important factors when making their career choices. Being a prime mover in this field and a coaching practitioner, I believe I have sufficient knowledge to share on this.

What coaching associations are there in the world today?

Many; among the more prominent ones are the ICF, the Worldwide Association of Business Coaching, the International Coaching Association, the International Association of Coaches and the International Academy of Coaches.

So what is it about the ICF that people should know?

The ICF is the longest established and the leading global coach organisation, with 20,000 members. It started in 1995, at almost the same time that non-sports coaching came into the world. It totally dedicates itself to advancing the coaching profession by setting high professional standards, providing independent certification and building a network of credentialed coaches. Its key role is to support and advance the coaching profession in all niches, such as life, executive, leadership, business and organisation.

Its remarkable achievement is unmatched. In fact, many leaders in other coaching bodies were - at one time or another - ICF members.

Why should this make the ICF superior to many others?

Just like Oxford and Cambridge universities are renowned for their academic studies, the ICF is renowned for its coaching. This is because it sets a very high standard for its coaches. It strictly adheres to a set of 11 Coaching Competencies and its Ethical Code & Professional Standards, which all its coaches must know and live with. While many other coaching bodies can qualify a person to be a professional coach either via a recorded tape session, a short programme, a sworn statement of commitment to coaching, and/or simply by paying a membership fee, the ICF does not compromise on its standards at all. At the ICF, every coach must be solidly trained up to 131 learning hours and must acquire up to 750 coaching hours.

Not only this, they need to pass at a high level, as well. On top of this, an ICF-credentialed coaching qualification must be renewed every three years, with evidence that a holder's coaching skills are updated every time.

Why should anyone want to undergo such a stringent process?

The key reason is that an ICF qualification is priceless. Not only are ICF coaches way above others in terms of skill performance, they are regarded as global (not only world-class) coaches whose qualification is globally recognised and they can practise in any part of the world.

How does one get enrolled into an ICF-accredited programme?

The answer is by choosing a coaching school with an ACTP [Accredited Coach Training Programme] status from the ICF. Only those with this credential can offer a coaching programme that can lead you to achieve ICF-credentialed status. There are two ways to learn: either through face-to-face learning via classrooms, or distant learning via Skype or teleconferencing.

The other consideration is to decide which coach-status level you want to pursue. There are two types of ICF-accredited programme. At the highest level is the Professional Certified Coach (PCC), and the other is the Associate Certified Coach (ACC). For more details, log in at www.coachfederation.org

Who wants to become a coach of such stature?

Serious-minded people who believe in getting the best for their career are definitely attracted to the ICF. Of course, they are also those with a strong passion and desire to be with people and get fulfilment in helping people be the best they can ever be.

In addition to individuals, more and more organisations are investing in their leaders to acquire coaching skills so that they can build their people. The latest trend today is that many of them are investing in their leaders to be certified professional coaches, as they want them to be the champions of coaching who can contribute in building high-performance organisations filled with good talents.

The Corporate Coach Academy is a coaching school in Asia for the certification of leaders of all backgrounds to become manager-coaches or professional certified coaches in the region. Log in at www.corporate-coachacademy.com or e-mail contact@corporate-coachacademy.com for details.


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