Where did coaching come from and what is the ICF (International Coaching Federation)?

Where did coaching come from and what is the ICF (International Coaching Federation)?

The field of coaching evolved in the ‘80s and ‘90s from consulting and counseling.  Coaches Training Institute (CTI) describes coaching as, “[Coaching is] a powerful alliance designed to forward and enhance the lifelong process of human learning, effectiveness, and fulfillment.”  The ICF (International Coaching Federation) defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

A founder and thought leader for the industry was Thomas Leonard.  He founded coaching schools such as CoachU and Coachville as well as the coaching regulating body called the ICF in 1995.  Since coaching is a newer industry there are no regulations for coaches to be licensed or certified. Some coaches have been “coaching” (the art of asking questions and supporting people to gain insights that deepen learning and forward action) in their lives and decide to “be a coach” and never seek certification or credentials. Those who are serious about the industry and desire to be a “coach” for their professional full-time career, would seek ligament coach training. They attend a coaching program which may have a niche such as corporate, personal, life, health, etc. and achieve certification from the school.  There are many coaching schools and training programs, however “legitimate” programs that meet the requirements of a solid program are “ICF APPROVED” programs.  I attend the CTI (Coach Training Institute www.thecoaches.com), which continues to be a top coach training program.

The certification coaches get from a rigorous and solid program is really all a coach needs to be off and running with this coaching business. As the industry grows however and the number of untrained coaches calling themselves coaches or “lightly” trained coaches from programs that are not ICF approved, has caused more to look for a coaching standard and credential. Typically larger organizations or companies that hire or contract coaches require this 2nd industry certification. This is certification obtained by the ICF. (As the regulating body for coaching, the ICF has standards to determine programs that qualify to train coaches and well as provides three levels of “certification” standards for active coaches to apply for once finished with their chosen “school certification”.)

Most people who hire coaches do not need to understand all of this. They just ensure the connection with their coach is a great fit. The challenge is, as the industry grows, sometimes people have a “bad” coaching experience. It can be helpful to know and ensure you are working with a trained coach to be more confident in receiving the experience and results desired.

In 2018 there were over 30K ICF members/coaches in 138 countries, with 49% being in North America.

As mentioned, the ICF has 3 levels that coaches who have finished an approved coach training program can apply for:

  • ACC: Associate Certified Coach (60+ hours of training, 100+ hours coaching experience) (59% of coaches)
  • PCC: Professional Certified Coach (125+ hours of training, 500+ hours coaching experience)  (37% of coaches)
  • MCC: Master Certified Coach (200+ hours of training, 2500+ hours coaching experience) (4% of coaches)

To learn more about the ICF, click here: https://coachfederation.org/

Fact sheet on coaching 2018: https://coachfederation.org/app/uploads/2018/01/January2018_FactSheet.pdf

Coaching is an exciting, growing and dynamic industry. It attracts people who are committed to personal growth and development. It is an emerging industry due to the changes in culture today. The coach-like approach is a favored skillset for leaders to develop for themselves (vs. management). Being in coaching is a dynamic and accelerated way for leaders to experience coaching, develop their own edge/strengths and ensure they are equipped for 21st-century leadership.