From the President

by Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC

The IAC: 6 Powerful Words

If you have been reading this column for any length of time, then you know that the IAC has been engaged in a long-range planning process for the past year. Both the experience and the resulting plan were exhilarating. I was impressed by not only the commitment of our members and volunteers but also by the creativity and diversity of perspective. We already knew that the IAC is a real gem. The planning process revealed how we might polish that gem to attract more attention to the distinct contribution we make in the coaching world.

In the past two months we have been working to develop a short, memorable slogan that summarizes our vision, shifts our perceptions and stirs our passions. Although it seems impossible to reduce a 10-page document and hundreds of hours of work down to a single sentence or phrase, it’s important to try and capture the essence of that work.

Coaches know all about that importance when it comes to our work with clients. We assist them to clarify and describe their visions in compelling statements. In his book, Inspire! What Great Leaders Do (2004, Wiley), Lance Secretan refers to this as our Why-Be-Do statements. Why am I here? How will I be? What will I do? Such questions are equally relevant and ultimately guiding for individuals and organizations alike. The IAC is no exception.

When it comes to such weighty and transformative questions, it’s important to think big, out-of-the box thoughts. Once developed, such visions serve as magnets. They pull us forward and give us energy for the journey.

Appreciative Inquiry, one of the disciplines in which I have some background, training and experience, refers to such visions as Provocative Propositions. To qualify, a proposition has to meet the following five tests. Is it:

  1. Grounded: Building on the best of current reality?
  2. Daring: Boldly stretching the status quo?
  3. Desired: Reflecting what we want to move toward, not what we move away from?
  4. Palpable: Sensing the future in the present, as if it was already happening? and
  5. Participatory: Involving all relevant stakeholders?

It was no accident that our strategic plan meets those five tests. We worked hard to include every possible voice, to anticipate the future, to stay focused on the positive and to boldly go where no coaching association had gone before—without losing sight of the present moment. We didn’t want to develop a pipedream; we wanted to develop a passionate dream that would beckon us forward and move us into action.

To capture that vision in six powerful words has taken a bit longer to develop, but it has been worth the wait. Mark Twain once said that the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug. That’s a big difference and we were confident that we would know when lightning had struck.

That may have happened at the recent Conversation Among Masters (CAM) conference. Four of us from the IAC were in attendance; talking among ourselves and testing out various slogans with CAM participants led us to the following phrase: Expanding the Path to Coaching Mastery.

Many people have reacted to those six words with delight and enthusiastic support. They seem to capture so much of who we are, what we are about and how we are becoming through the strategic plan. With the development of a system of personalized learning agreements, instead of a standard path of development or scope of practice, the IAC is indeed expanding the path to coaching mastery. We welcome all who share the standards and masteries of our profession, however they get developed or expressed. That is the first and most obvious sense of the slogan.

But we don’t stop there. Expanding the path to coaching mastery also means that we are taking coaching mastery to the world in increasingly diverse, nuanced and evocative terms. We not only want to serve professional coaches with coaching mastery; we also want to serve clients as well as the world at large.

We believe that just about everyone would benefit if coaching mastery was a common language and the preferred method for facilitating learning, growth and change. Parents could use coaching mastery with children. Managers could use it with employees. And partners could use it with each other. There is no limit to how far this might expand and to how much good it might do.

As the IAC Board of Governors moves to vote on this slogan at our June meeting, I would love to receive your thoughts and feedback on the phrase. Does that sound like the IAC you know and love? Does that sound like an organization you would like to join? Can you get as excited as we are about the prospect of Expanding the Path to Coaching Mastery? Let me know by writing And if you haven’t already done so, please join or to renew your membership in the IAC today.

May you be filled with goodness, peace and joy,


Bob Tschannen-Moran, IAC-CC, is President of LifeTrek Coaching International. Together with this wife, Megan, Bob has written a new book titled Evocative Coaching (Jossey-Bass, July 2010), which incorporates the IAC Coaching Masteries® in a coaching model designed for leaders and coaches in K-12 schools.

Scroll to Top

IAC Login