Is ICF Certification Necessary?

  • Is ICF Certification Necessary?

    Coaching is a rapidly growing field with corporations around the globe increasing their use of internal and external coaches in an effort to maximize productivity, efficiency and skill in their organizations. With that increase, International Coaching Federation (ICF) certification is becoming more important.


    According to the ICF Global Coaching Study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, more than 3 in 4 (76%) of all coaches agree that, “the people and organizations who receive coaching expect their coaches to be certified/credentialed“. And the 2010 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study says, “84 percent of adult consumers who had experienced a coaching relationship reported that it was important for coaches to hold a credential.” At our leadership development company, Envision Global Leadership (EGL), we have certainly had increasing requirement to provide only ICF certified coaches to our corporate clients, and many companies are now only hiring ICF Certified coaches.


    It also looks as though ICF credentialed coaches are being rewarded, reporting a higher-than-average income worldwide compared to non-credentialed coaches, with the exception of the Middle East and Africa. Further, according to the 2010 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study, “clients who worked with an ICF Credentialed Coach were more likely to be satisfied with their coaching experience and recommend coaching to others.


    The trend toward ICF certification has become even greater since these studies were released. Yet not all coaches are happy about it. With only 22% of professional coaches holding ICF credentials, there are plenty of seasoned and successful coaches out there who feel they shouldn’t have to start training again in order to meet ICF coaching competencies. After all, not having credentials doesn’t mean a coach isn’t making a positive difference! So there is, understandably, some frustration in the profession.


    The reality is, whether we all like it or not, there is a movement in the field to standardize and regulate coaching, just as the therapeutic field has been increasingly regulated in the past 30 years. The obvious concern has been to weed out those who purport to be professionals when in fact they have little or no training or experience.


    Additionally, the actual definition of coaching has changed. Originally emerging from the highly directive, transactional sports coach model, coaching is leaning into a more transformational model where the coach helps the client create well-formed outcomes through an exploration of them selves. Interestingly, one of the most common things our students tell us after the first few days of training is that they realize they had been consulting, not coaching, up to that point.


    Whether you agree with the direction our field is going, the ICF leads the community in advancing the profession, creating increasing safety for clients and offering them assurance that their coaches are meeting or exceeding specific professional requirements.


    Let us know what your stance is on this subject. It is one that stirs all kinds of feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. So let’s have a conversation.


    Here’s to your success!

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