by Natalie Tucker Miller, MCC (IAC) and Kristi Arndt, MCC (IAC)
The Global Summit on the Future of Coaching was held at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina on July 26-28, 2012, and was an historic event for the field of coaching. The Summit Steering Committee, composed of Board and staff leaders from the Association of Coach Training Organizations (ACTO), European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), the Graduate School Alliance for Executive Coaching (GSAEC) and the International Coach Federation (ICF), with additional representation from the Australian Psychological Society (APS), met throughout the past year to organize and plan this important gathering. The 29 voices at the table represented five continents (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America) and 14 not-for-profit professional coach organizations, generating a rich conversation and idea exchange. Jane Watkins and Ralph Kelly, co-authors (with Bernard Mohr) of the book Appreciative Inquiry: Change at the Speed of Imagination (2011, Second Edition, published by Pfeiffer), facilitated the dialogue.
Initially, we were asked to consider what is required for coach preparedness and what coach credentialing can do, and does, for the coaching field. Four questions were posed prior to the Summit:
- What conceptual frameworks for coaching competencies are possible, recognizing the diversity of the field, of practitioners and of stakeholder needs?
- What frameworks for coach preparation would serve to address the diversity of competencies and program standards?
- What frameworks for coach certification might offer consistency and credibility for the profession while acknowledging theoretical and philosophical differences?
- What role can professional organizations play in supporting credibility and standards in the field?
As we considered these opening queries, the conversations grew in diversity and complexity. It was clear that the participants shared a commitment to contributing to a sustainable vision for coaching as a field of professional practice. There were also many aspects of alignment among the organizations, as well as obvious differences. What we did agree upon was that skills are required to create a sustainably transformative experience for clients of coaching.
Learning about the aspects of alignment was an exciting and encouraging outcome. The coaching industry has felt many growing pains over the past several years as it grapples with its identity. The field has taken some major hits because of its rapid growth, not unlike other professional practices that in their early years felt the sting of confusion in the marketplace (e.g., chiropractic, counseling and massage therapy). Commonly asked questions include "What is it?"; "Who is qualified?"; "How are they qualified?" and "Who determines the qualifying body?"
One of the more obvious problems is the confusion that arises when answers to these questions are unclear. Many organizations have been disappointed when they have turned to coaching as a solution in their companies. They have not seen the results they were promised or expected for the dollar amount they invested. One suggestion was that in the present economy, many people who have been downsized or laid off have put out their "coaching shingles" without fully comprehending the discrete and specific nature of a coaching relationship. There are also many individuals who have adopted the term "coach" and have capitalized on the "no barrier-to-entry" reality of the field. Anyone can, and many do, present themselves as coaches, while lacking this important understanding.
Much work remains to be done. We are honored that the International Association of Coaching is participating in this crucial, ongoing discussion. We would love to hear from you, the members, as to what you have discovered in the coaching field as a coach, as a recipient of coaching, or perhaps both. We are honored to represent all of you and want to be able to express your views as we move forward with more Future of Coaching events!
Also, stay tuned for more specific information from the event. There were five transcriptionists as well as several of the participants compiling notes, and these will be developed into a more formal report as well as an academic paper. We look forward to sharing details contained in these documents with you.
Natalie Tucker Miller, MCC (IAC), is the Lead Certifier and a certifying examiner at the IAC, as well as Past President. Natalie is founder of Ageless-Sages.com Publishing (www.ageless-sages.com), and creator of the literary genre, Picture Books for Elders™.
Kristi Arndt, MCC (IAC), serves the IAC as Vice President, Professional Development Portfolio Head and Coaching & Professional Associations Liaison. Kristi integrates extensive knowledge of the Human Design System into her personal coaching services to guide her clients according to life strategies that are correct for them. www.coachwithkristi.com.