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In recent years, coaching has become fashionable in many organisations and has captured the hearts and minds of those who see coaching as a revolutionary approach to management and leadership.

At its best, coaching is not simply a new buzzword for describing a more ‘people centered’ style of management. Rather, coaching is a distinct and different paradigm for working with people and accomplishing results. It is a way of relating and communicating in which the coach is committed to the commitments of the coachee, client or team and is competent to provide an opening for new possibilities and unprecedented actions to occur.

Coaching has attracted much attention and offered opportunities for people to take advantage of increased interest and demand. Throughout this period, thousands of individuals have been trained or declared themselves as coaches, programs for teaching and/or certifying coaches have proliferated, many books have been published on this subject, and coaching seminars are now mainstream.

For clients of coaching services, this can be very confusing.

Coaching by its nature is very personal and is based on a unique and profound level of trust between the coach and those being coached. While coaching is not therapy, the quality of the relationship is similar and the consequences, whether positive or negative, can be just as profound.

With coaching being so personal, some believe that selecting coaches is difficult because there’s a lack of standardization or credentialing in the coaching industry. This complicates the determination of coaching qualifications. Some has argued that coaching has not met the criteria for a profession because it lacks barriers to entry, formal university-level qualifications, regulatory bodies, an enforceable body of ethics, and state-sanctioned licensing.

However, we must remember that coaching is a skill which does not involve delving into people’s past, nor does it involve giving advice or making suggestions (although some coaches combine coaching techniques with other disciplines). Therefore, the chances of coaching causing harm are very slim although this is no excuse for bad coaching.

This is why high quality, substantive and accredited training courses for people entering the profession are extremely important. These standards provide a benchmark by which new coaches will be able to judge the quality of coaching delivered and we expect all training providers who care about the standard of coaching delivery to educate their students to a level that allows them to do this.

WHAT defines Standards

A Standard is a published document which sets out specifications and procedures to ensure that a material, product, method or service is fit for purpose and consistently performs the way it was intended.

WHY are Standards important?

  1. Define conditions for quality

  2. Reflect peer views on structures, processes and outcomes that represent minimum, acceptable, good or best practice

  3. It provides rules for coaches to use in many of the specific situations that a coach might encounter

  4. Guide organisations and individual coaches in service delivery and development

  5. Address discrepancies in information and knowledge between consumers and providers (enable clients to understand more about what they can expect from coaches)

  6. Transfer information about better ways to deliver services

  7. Improve the consistency of services

  8. Provide regulators and/or Coaching Education Providers with a tool to meet policy objectives

  9. Be used within a voluntary or regulatory framework to influence behavior

  10. Coaches maintain a reasonable level of awareness of current best business practices and professional information in their fields of activity, and undertake ongoing efforts to maintain competence in the skills they use.

The development of standards is not a simple task, but an even greater difficulty lies in ensuring the consistent implementation of standards that is practiced by coaches and organisations in the industry.

When things go wrong in a coaching/mentoring relationship or within a coaching/mentoring business, and the reality is that they will from time to time, it will undoubtedly be the result of the lack of a rigorous application of the Coaching Core Competencies to the areas of responsibility. The International Coach Guild, recognizing the requirement to ensure the highest standards of professional and personal behaviour, requires all those coming under its banner to conduct their coaching and/or mentoring work in such a way as to maintain and maximize the impact of the ICG Core Competencies upon each area of professional responsibility.

Our adopted, unified and collaborative ICG Core Competencies and Code of Ethics represent a summary of what are, and what we are not for acceptable standards for professional coaches and mentors.

By proposing solid guidelines for the professional practice of coaches in the industry, the International Coach Guild provides coaches and organisations with a foundation for:

  1. ethical design

  2. professional design

  3. delivery of coaching services

  4. measurement of coaching services

  5. determining when coaching is a most suitable intervention to meet a potential customer’s needs

  6. evaluating a coach’s own practices

We believe that for coaching to become a widely respected discipline or profession, there must be an agreed upon set of rules to govern our practice. In the absence of such rules, coaching may indeed become a passing fad and the potential of coaching as a new and empowering paradigm for organisations and management may be lost. Whilst these standards are not binding, they will become the foundation upon which coaching providers and professionals are evaluated into the future.  We invite coaching colleagues and clients to engage this proposal as a starting point. The International Coach Guild offers a foundation of coaching standards that can be enriched or expanded based on whatever experience and upcoming industry awareness comes through our way.


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