by Diane Krause-Stetson
Editor’s Note: It's been 7 years since the IAC changed the "C" from "Coaches" to "Coaching". In 2014, it's more pertinent than ever, with coaching happening in all areas of life! With a recent headline stating that coaching is becoming one of the fasted growing professions, it's more important than ever to the emphasis on the "verb" rather than the "noun". Read on to see what that means, or visit the article here.
A New Name Reflects a Broader Mission
At its September meeting, the IAC Board of Governors reinforced its commitment to an expanded mission of evolving the highest standards of universal excellence in coaching. In practical terms, what this means is the Board unanimously voted to change the IAC’s name to the "International Association of Coaching" effective January 2007.
What's in a name?
Is there a difference? What is a coach? What is coaching? Instead of limiting the IAC's focus to individuals who have decided to enter into the profession of coaching, the organization will serve all professionals who recognize the value of coaching and apply the coaching approach to their particular profession. The coaching approach has caught on. The techniques, skills and art of coaching are used in a number of professions, including business management, teaching, nursing, and counseling.
By expanding the mission and focus of the IAC and welcoming this broader group of professionals, our organization can have a greater influence on advancing the highest standards of universal excellence in coaching, regardless of the context in which the coaching is offered or the title of the person serving as the coach.
This discussion is not new. From the beginning, Thomas J. Leonard opined that "Everyone is a coach". Then, as the proficiencies were developed, taught and implemented, it became clear that while anyone can call himself a coach, not everyone can coach proficiently. For the benefit of the profession of coaching, standards were developed and continue to evolve (most recently in the IAC Masteries). A certification process was designed, with a panel of masterful coaches ensuring someone with an IAC certification can demonstrate coaching ability at the highest level.
Profession vs. professionalism
At the outset of the development of the IAC Masteries, the team focused on the behaviors and abilities that appear during a masterful coaching conversation. These masterful coaching behaviors and abilities could easily be present between a coach and a client, a teacher and a student, or a manager and a direct report. It became clear that it is the way in which the interaction and dialogue is demonstrated, and not the title of the person who is engaged in the act of coaching, that is critical to the professionalism of coaching. Again, this is a subtle shift in wording: "professionalism" versus "profession".
Coaches vs. coaching
Last year, I read an essay called "Project Coaching: Nouns and Verbs" by Lable Braun. Lable's essay argues that coaches should return to (or not leave) the corporate world to become a coach but to remain within the business world and embrace the many opportunities to coach. (Editor's note: Lable Braun's essay will be printed in the next issue of the VOICE.)
And voila! A new name for the IAC
I thought Lable's essay was an elegant and compelling illustration of the importance of expanding the conversation in the coaching field, and indeed within the IAC as an organization. After much heartfelt discussion, the IAC decided to use the term "coaching" instead of "coaches" in its name. It's a subtle but powerful reminder to us all about the larger arena in which we can be of service.