Have you thought about getting your ICF certification in order to launch or accelerate your journey to a successful coaching practice? Do you want a coaching certification but don’t really know where to start, or even what training is legitimate?
In this video (and below) I am interviewing George Rogers, the Assistant Executive Director of International Coach Federation that I met at a recent ICF Conference.
George is going to tell us the basics that you should know about ICF certification and coach credentialing.
We’ll also discuss:
- 2:50 What is an ICF Coach Credential (and the process that International Coach Federation provides for Credentialing Coaches)?
- 4:05 What are the three professional designations of a coach and the difference between them?
- 5:24 How your coaching advances from ‘mechanical’ to ‘magical’ as you achieve more advanced designations…
- 6:19 Why is it important to a coach to get an ICF Credential?
- 9:38 How does a new coach go about pursuing getting their ICF Credential?
- 10:19 What should a coach do to get coaching experience under their belt BEFORE they receive an ICF Credential?
- 11:12 What a new coach should do BEFORE they ever think about coaching ANYONE (including a paying client).
- 13:53 What’s the first step a coach should take to START their credentialing journey?
By the way, if you want to skip forward to any of these topics, you can click on the (above) time codes to skip to that part of the video.
What is the ICF (International Coach Federation)?
ICF is world-recognized standard bearer and governing body for the personal and professional coaching world. They provide internationally accepted standards for coach credential levels, as well as accreditation for coach training organizations (such as Master Coach University). We’re approved to provide training that fulfills ICF’s requirements for coach credentialing.
ICF holds international conferences annually to bring the coaching world together to collaborate with and learn from each other, and this is where I had a chance to sit down to talk to George Rogers. The full transcript of our interview follows below…
02:15 I have Mr. George Rogers here, the Assistant Executive Director of ICF, International Coach Federation, and I wanted to spend this time for a second to share with coaches a little bit about credentialing.
What is an ICF Coach Credential (and the process that International Coach Federation provides for Credentialing Coaches)?
Why don’t we start off with something really, really simple. What is coach credentialing?
02:54 George Rogers: The ICF has credentials for individuals, and a credential really is a way of having a designation by an external body that you have been reviewed. You’ve had your education, your experience, your skill reviewed.
It’s something that is part of professional development. It’s something that is part of an assurance for your clients to let them know that you are indeed a trained coach, and it’s something that, as we know from our research, more and more clients are asking for.
Individual clients as well as organizational clients are asking for their coach to hold their credential.
03:41 The ICF has three credentials:
- the associate level (ACC)
- the professional level (PCC)
- the master level (MCC)
That’s a path that we see people get on to continue to grow. It’s going to be used to market themselves. It’s an outward sign that you have been vetted by an independent body… that you have knowledge, skill, and experience.
What are the three professional designations of a coach and the difference between them?
04:05 Jeffrey Sooey: How would you describe the difference between the ACC, PCC, and MCC, the associate level, the professional level, and the master level?
What’s your way of defining the distinctions between those?
04:19 George Rogers: At the base, ACC (or associate level) requires a certain level of training and a certain level of experience. PCC requires more, and MCC requires even more.
So, there is a progression of experience and training that you have to have.
A lot of people enter with the ACC. You start with the ACC as kind of an entry level credential. They are beginning to develop their coaching skills. They have coaching. They have knowledge. They’re beginning to develop their coaching process. It’s that knowledge and application level.
04:54 As they move to the PCC, coaching starts to become more fluid. They start moving away from a formula, and they have a much more confident coaching practice.
05:03 At the master level, there’s a lot of creativity, synthesis, a lot more depth of partnership… a lot more cumulative listening, a lot more things that are happening where a coach doesn’t really have to rely. It’s become almost automatic, the things that they are doing; they’re so experienced and well trained.
How your coaching advances from ‘mechanical’ to ‘magical’ as you achieve more advanced designations…
05:24 Jeffrey Sooey: One of the things I noticed about the ACC competencies, they seem like they’re more obvious and direct, going on what’s on the surface, whereas when we get to the point where we are at MCC, it’s almost, if not just deeper, but it seems like it’s where a lot of the magic intuition of a co-created coaching conversation really comes out.
05:52 George Rogers: It’s kind of like any other skill that you learn. When you first learn, you rely on some structures and some formulas maybe, and, as you get better at it, you are able to branch away from those, and do things that really work for you (and, of course, work for your clients).
06:07 Jeffrey Sooey: Nice. So you’re free from the formula, but you still are creating deeper and better results beyond what that basic level would probably provide.
06:17 George Rogers: Yeah, that’s the hope.
Why is it important to a coach to get an ICF Credential?
06:19 Jeffrey Sooey: Beautiful. So let me ask you this, why is credentialing important for a coach who has not even really considered getting an ICF credential. Even if they’ve had other trainings, other background, or other expertise and knowledge where they can already add value to a client, let’s say. What’s important to a coach about getting that credential? Why should it matter to them?
06:48 George Rogers: I think it’s a great test of yourself. Part of the theme of this conference has been “you don’t know what you don’t know”. So when you subject yourself, or when you enter into a process where other people are going to review your coaching, and that happens through:
- your training
- mentor coaching that you may receive during your training
- through our assessment process, the testing that we do of credential applications…
…you have subjected yourself or entered yourself into some external review, and we think that’s really valuable for your personal growth or for your development.
07:27 So even if you never used your credential as a marketing tool or anything else, having put yourself through that process, that testing process, we think is a valuable thing.
We really developed kind of a 3-fold purpose for the credentialing program.
07:43 Jeffrey Sooey: Okay.
07:43 George Rogers: One was to have some kind of quality assurance. We want people who experienced coaching to have the very best. So, having a credential is some level of quality assurance.
The other one that we think is important is… it is an incentive to grow.
It’s an incentive to keep learning.
Moving through that ACC, PCC, and MCC process, and really, beyond that… it doesn’t end at MCC.
We want people to continue learning after that. That’s the other purpose there.
08:14 Jeffrey Sooey: So you are, in a way, creating a reward for us coaches other than just the reward that’s intrinsic to training, and development, and getting better… to say, “Hey, now I have achieved something,” and I get a little bit of a carrot or a cookie, after all that work.
08:34 George Rogers: Right.
Now, I think for a lot of people that I have talked to…. whether they even intend to practice very seriously as coach, it’s nice to have an accomplishment. It’s nice to say, “You know, this is something else that I have done,” and they feel good about that.
So, there’s a little bit of feel good, but most of the people I’ve talked to,
…the reason they get involved in it is because they want to become better at what they do.
the reason they get involved in it is because they want to become better at what they do.
08:58 Jeffrey Sooey: Nice.
08:58 George Rogers: And they see this as a structured way to do that.
09:01 Jeffrey Sooey: That makes sense. I know that before I had certain levels of training and certification, I had questions about my abilities, and I had barriers to my own confidence in what I wasn’t really sure that I could do. So it seems that once a coach has that certain level of credential, they can lean on that from the perspective of knowing that they have accomplished something, and that they can promise that to someone with even more confidence and assuredness, because of that peer review that we’re talking about.
09:38 George Rogers: Right.
How does a new coach go about pursuing getting their ICF Credential?
09:38 Jeffrey Sooey: Let me ask you this, if a coach is saying, “Great, that sounds like what I need. That sounds like a big part of what I need to move forward with… developing that, to get on that credentialing track,” how do they do it? And we know there are steps involved, and they can research that and follow those. But for a new coach who has decided that this is important, that they want to go ahead and pursue a credential, what advice would you give them?
How would you advise that they go ahead and move forward with that process, other than the obvious steps that they can research?
What should a coach do to get coaching experience under their belt BEFORE they receive an ICF Credential?
10:19 George Rogers: Well, I think the really important thing is that they invest in good coach training. The ICF accredits and approves training providers that are delivering training that is aligned with the ICF definition of coaching, core competencies, code of ethics, and having that training base is really what is necessary to move forward in the credentialing process.
10:40 Jeffrey Sooey: Nice.
10:40 George Rogers: Along with that, I think it’s important for them to start developing their practice, getting to the patterns of contracting with their clients, recording their experience so that at the time when they submit and refer an application to ICF for credential, they have a client log, they have training.
11:00 I would also say it’s important for them to work with a qualified mentor coach, someone who can listen to them coach, give them feedback, all those are requirements of the ICF credentialing process and really critical elements to them becoming a coach.
- Invest in good coach training
- Coach clients
- Record your sessions in a client log
What a new coach should do BEFORE they ever think about coaching ANYONE (including a paying client).
11:12 Jeffrey Sooey: Nice. Okay, so if I’m listening to this and I’m thinking, “Well, wait a second, in order to practice that coaching and fill my log, shouldn’t I have a credential already to have permission to actually run all those sessions?”
In order to practice that coaching and fill my log, shouldn’t I have a credential already to have permission to actually run all those sessions?
What do you say to that and how do you support somebody who’s thinking, “Well, this seems like a bit of a chicken and egg kind of issue. I need to do this in order to get the credential, but I need the credential in order to do all that?”
11:47 George Rogers: So I think it is kind of a chicken and egg thing, but what I would encourage people to do is get part of their training going and start thinking about who they can coach and how they can deliver good services. Begin slow and start off by telling their clients that they’re beginning, they’re learning… they’re in training.
Be very transparent and up front about that. That’s a very ethical approach.
12:07 Jeffrey Sooey: Right.
12:07 George Rogers: But also, it is part of the learning process. I mean, you’re going to need to get some experience before you’re fully qualified, so we think it’s okay once you’ve started training, and that should really be a part of the homework that comes from a training program. We want you to go out and start doing some coaching.
Start getting used to interacting with your client, and so that’s a good start.
Start getting used to interacting with your client, and so that’s a good start.
12:32 Jeffrey Sooey: Beautiful. It makes sense. So, in other words, you can start slow and just be really up front. This is one of the things I think I see with some new coaches…
Their concern is that they have to put themselves out there like they already ‘know it all’, like they already are the master coach for other people, just in order to engage…
…versus just going in and saying, “Look, I’m not a master of this yet. I’m just learning, but let’s go ahead and move forward,”
Look, I’m not a master of this yet. I’m just learning, but let’s go ahead and move forward.
and that’s okay from the ICF’s perspective, from your perspective, to go ahead and do it as a novice, non-credentialed coach… to go out there and really attempt to add value and really make a difference for clients.
13:11 George Rogers: That’s very true. I think it’s the way that people are going to learn.
Get some of your training under your belt.
Get your clear understanding, especially the code of ethics. I think that’s a really important part that you know about before you ever touch a client.
But beyond that, it’s a little bit of learning by doing.
13:31 Jeffrey Sooey: It’s really, really great. So, learn by doing, and before they start that process, check out the code of ethics and make sure that they’re (at a minimum) abiding by that.
13:41 George Rogers: Yeah. And that should be a part of the training program as well, that they are advising you on that, and talking about how you follow that, and put you in some situations where you would have to understand where you may be crossing some lines.
What’s the first step a coach should take to START their credentialing journey?
13:53 Jeffrey Sooey: Now that we have a little bit of the ‘step by step’ on this (and a coach has not taken any of those steps yet) what’s the next piece?
Should they check out ICF on the internet?
Should they talk to a training provider first?
What would be the very first thing that they can do today if they’re reading this?
14:17 George Rogers: I think look at the ICF’s coachfederation.org.
14:21 Jeffrey Sooey: Okay.
14:21 George Rogers: There is a wealth of information there about individual credentialing and there’s a lot of information there about the credentialing process. There’s also, on the ICF website, a Training Program Search Service, which allows you to go in and search for training providers that have been approved or accredited by the ICF.
14:52 Jeffrey Sooey: Nice.
14:52 George Rogers: And then another great resource is the staff that we have in the global headquarters. On the website, there’s a chat box where you can ask a question and someone from the staff can answer those, maybe not immediately, but they’ll get an answer back to you to help guide you through the credentialing process.
15:13 Jeffrey Sooey: So I go to coachfederation.org. I can check out the individual credentialing guidance that’s there on that tab. I can also reach out to somebody at ICF personally through the contact that’s within the same site.
15:29 George Rogers: That’s correct.
15:30 Jeffrey Sooey: Very nice.
George, thank you so much for answering these questions. I know our new coaches and our trainees are going to be, I hope, motivated, and clear now as to, not just what the steps are, but what this is really about for them and the clients they’re going to serve as well. So it’s really fantastic.
Anything else you want to share that you think is important for them?
15:53 George Rogers: I appreciate the work that you’re doing and if there’s anything we can do to assist your students, we’re really looking forward to doing that.
16:01 Jeffrey Sooey: Fantastic. Likewise. Thanks a lot.
(…End of interview)
I hope that you took some great value out of my interview with George Rogers from the ICF (International Coach Federation).
What’s your credentialing level right now?
How important is a credential to you, and how do you see it helping you in your coaching journey?
What do you think about ICF’s take on certification and credentialing?
I’d love to hear your feedback, so make sure that you leave a comment with your thoughts or questions.
Now, if you want to learn more about the International Coach Federation, here’s the link to their website:
If you want my help with your own credentialing and coach certification, I’m holding a webinar in a few days called Credentialing and Coach Certification that you can attend for free. Just go to the link HERE:
For this webinar, I’m bringing in Master Coach University’s own credentialing expert. He created the coach training standards for the US government, and he’ll help you learn the details about the only internationally-recognized coach credentials, how they work, and the process to obtain your credential. You can get your questions answered about international coach credentialing and learn how to get the required training to get your coach credential in as little as 3-1/2 months.
When you sign up for the webinar, you’ll also get instant access to my credentialing fact sheet, so you can easily read through details to design your master plan for your certification journey. Just go HERE to sign up for the webinar, get your credentialing fact sheet, and access lots of other advanced coaching and practice-building techniques.
Jeffrey T. Sooey
CEO, JTS Advisors
Founder, Coaches Training Blog community