From the President

by Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC

The IAC: Expanding the Path with Integrity

As you may know, the IAC Board of Governors has been involved in a long-range planning process that is guiding our development both now and for many years in the future. The IAC’s new motto, “Expanding the Path to Coaching Mastery,” reflects the mission and purpose that the Board of Governors has for the organization. We seek to respect and encourage the many different ways that people become masterful coaches.

The IAC does that, in part, by sharing its primary intellectual content—the IAC Coaching Masteries®—with the coaching world. These nine standards and measures, constituting the highest level of coaching, were developed and validated by an international cohort of coaches seeking to define and describe coaching mastery in terms that could be understood in any culture around the world.

Given the high standard that the IAC seeks to maintain, it is sometimes hard for people to understand the open architecture of the IAC licensing program for coach training programs and mentor coaches. Here is an excerpt of a recent inquiry and concern:

As a coach since the mid 90s with Thomas Leonard, etc., I was a supporter of the IAC at its inception. I say this to assure you that I only think positively about the organization and what’s going on. I also know that you grant licenses to schools and organizations to foster the Masteries. An e-mail was forwarded to me about a coaching “program” that promises to teach coaching and become certified in 16 hours!

I noticed on their site that they have a license to teach the IAC Masteries. I find it curious that a program that makes such “ridiculous” promises is allowed to hold an IAC license. I find it disappointing that IAC is associated with such a site.

Here is an excerpt of my reply:

Thanks for writing and sharing your concerns about the IAC licensing program. As you may or may not know, the IAC does not seek to regulate the coach-training industry as part of our certification process. Unlike the ICF, the IAC simply licenses training programs and coaches to use the IAC Coaching Masteries® in their work. In other words, the IAC grants them the right to use our intellectual property but does not vouch for whether or not they are using them well.

I agree that a 16-hour training program is, in my book, more of an introduction to coaching than a complete course. That does not disqualify their graduates, however, from joining the IAC and applying for IAC recognition. Anyone can join and anyone can apply.

Recently, in addition to the IAC Certified Coach designation, the IAC has instituted a new designation: the IAC Practitioner. The Practitioner is someone who has passed the written exam and completed his or her first Learning Agreement (more on that later), versus the Certified Coach, who has also passed the oral exam (demonstration of coaching mastery). I can assure you that the IAC standards are quite high for the Certified Coach, which we view as a Master-level certification. It would be very unlikely that a graduate of a 16-hour coach-training program, were they to have no other coach-specific training, would pass that bar.

As long as the IAC maintains such high standards for its certification, we see no reason to discourage coach training programs of any length or intensity from becoming Licensees and using the IAC Coaching Masteries® in their work.

In addition to the Practitioner designation, the IAC has recently introduced a new measure for accountability and support: the IAC Learning Agreements. To achieve and maintain the IAC Practitioner and IAC Certified Coach designations, IAC members must submit annually a personalized Learning Agreement that describes how they will achieve or maintain the highest standards of coaching excellence. This is similar to Ben Zander’s notion of “Giving an A,” if you are familiar with that, from The Art of Possibility. The IAC is essentially asking those holding or aspiring to hold IAC credentials to write the IAC a letter, dated one year in the future, describing what they did to earn their “A” as a coach. IAC reviewers will hold Learning Agreement review conferences, after one year and every five years thereafter, to make sure commitments are being kept and coaches are growing well.

The IAC Board of Governors is excited by how this individuated approach to learning and credentialing is being received in the coaching world. I hope you will come to share that excitement with us as a viable way of expanding the path to coaching mastery.

Apparently, that reply was helpful to the person who wrote, because I received a very appreciative reply.

I hope you find this exchange to be as encouraging as I did. The IAC seeks to expand the path to coaching mastery with integrity, and nothing the IAC is doing now or in the future will change that.

May you be filled with goodness, peace and joy,


Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC, is CEO & Co-Founder of the Center for School Transformation and President of LifeTrek Coaching International. Bob has co-authored a new book, titled Evocative Coaching, which incorporates the IAC Coaching Masteries® in a coaching model designed for leaders and coaches in K-12 schools.

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