Home Research Coaching Surveys Development of Coaches: VI. Does ICF Certification Make A Difference?

Development of Coaches: VI. Does ICF Certification Make A Difference?

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Two Parallel Universes

To a certain extent, the results confirm the observation (and conclusion) made by our colleague, Rey Carr, about the world of ICF coaching certification and the world of coaching outside this certification. Rey suggested that these are “parallel universes.” Through examining results from the Development of Coaches survey, we have found some expected differences: ICF certified coaches are more likely to have been influenced by their training as a coach, as well as the supervision and personal coaching they received. These coaches are also more likely to indicate that they have changed as a coach and have overcome limitations in their coaching. It is not surprising, in addition, that the ICF certified coaches are more likely than renegades to value further professional development. All of this is a large part of what the ICF certification process is about: training, supervision, being coached by a senior colleague or mentor—valuing their ongoing development as a professional and looking forward to further professional development in the future. In this regard, ICF-based coaching is closely aligned with many other human service professions – such as psychotherapy, clinical social work and even medicine. This is part of the professionalization of coaching (following in the tradition of these other human service professions).

However, something more complex seems to be operating in these two universes. The ICF certified coaches perceive themselves as being more authentically personal in working with clients than do the renegades. Conversely, the renegades are more likely to acknowledge difficulty in working with some clients and to find it sometimes difficult to reconcile obligations to client and equivalent obligations to other stakeholders. Are the ICF coaches just naïve or perhaps more blindly optimistic about their work, whereas the renegades are more experienced, realistic and perhaps more honest? Or do the ICF coaches simply do a better job in working with their clients – having received more training and having been tested extensively for their competence as coaches?

Three other findings make the picture even more complex. The ICF certified coaches indicate that they are more likely to be influenced by the institutional conditions in which they are operating. They are also more likely than are the renegades to consider terminating a coaching contract with difficult clients and are more likely to see the changes that have occurred in their coaching profession to be a decline (rather than an advance). Admittedly, the mean scores for all respondents on these last two items are quite low, and some of the significant differences in mean scores might be attributable in both instances to a few “outlier” responses by ICF respondents who are either very candid or truly in some trouble with regard to their coaching practices.

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One Comment

  1. Rey Carr

    December 30, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    What a terrific paper! And I’m not saying that because my name is spelled correctly or my ideas are accurately presented. The distinction between internal/external locus of control, the renegades/certified distinction, and the frontier town analogy are all stimulating and thought-provoking ideas.


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