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FAQ’s About Coaching

What year was ICF formed?

The association was formed in 1995. Local ICF Chapters started to form shortly thereafter and continue to open today.

Who started the ICF and why?

The late Thomas Leonard founded the ICF for the purpose of creating a community for professional coaches. While member were primarily throughout North America at first, today members around the globe in over 100 countries. What types of coaches join the ICF? ICF members specialize in a variety of coaching areas, including Executive Coaching, Life Coaching, Leadership Coaching, Relationship Coaching, Career Coaching, and more.

Do I have to have an ICF Credential to be a member?

Coaches do not need to hold an ICF credential to be a member, although ICF Credentials are recommended. ICF Credentialed members do have additional member benefits.

Who is in charge of the ICF?

The ICF is a nonprofit membership organization. A global Board of Directors is elected by credentialed members to oversee the organization’s affairs and paid staff members follow the leadership’s direction and carry out day-to-day work.

Is there proof that coaching works?

Yes! Please review the materials available in the research portal as well as press releases on various research that the ICF has conducted in order to demonstrate return on investment.

How is coaching distinct from other service professions?

Professional coaching is a distinct service which focuses on an individual’s life as it relates to goal setting, outcome creation and personal change management. In an effort to understand what a coach is, it can be helpful to distinguish coaching from other professions that provide personal or organizational support.

  • Therapy: Coaching can be distinguished from therapy in a number of ways. First, coaching is a profession that supports personal and professional growth and development based on individual-initiated change in pursuit of specific actionable outcomes. These outcomes are linked to personal or professional success. Coaching is forward moving and future focused. Therapy, on the other hand, deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or a relationship between two or more individuals. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past which hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with present life and work circumstances in more emotionally healthy ways. Therapy outcomes often include improved emotional/feeling states. While positive feelings/emotions may be a natural outcome of coaching, the primary focus is on creating actionable strategies for achieving specific goals in one’s work or personal life. The emphasis in a coaching relationship is on action, accountability and follow through.

  • Consulting: Consultants may be retained by individuals or organizations for the purpose of accessing specialized expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, there is often an assumption that the consultant diagnoses problems and prescribes and sometimes implements solutions. In general, the assumption with coaching is that individuals or teams are capable of generating their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks.

  • Mentoring: Mentoring, which can be thought of as guiding from one’s own experience or sharing of experience in a specific area of industry or career development, is sometimes confused with coaching. Although some coaches provide mentoring as part of their coaching, such as in mentor coaching new coaches, coaches are not typically mentors to those they coach.

  • Training: Training programs are based on the acquisition of certain learning objectives as set out by the trainer or instructor. Though objectives are clarified in the coaching process, they are set by the individual or team being coached with guidance provided by the coach. Training also assumes a linear learning path which coincides with an established curriculum. Coaching is less linear without a set curriculum plan.

  • Athletic Development: Though sports metaphors are often used, professional coaching is different from the traditional sports coach. The athletic coach is often seen as an expert who guides and directs the behavior of individuals or teams based on his or her greater experience and knowledge. Professional coaches possess these qualities, but it is the experience and knowledge of the individual or team that determines the direction. Additionally, professional coaching, unlike athletic development, does not focus on behaviors that are being executed poorly or incorrectly. Instead, the focus is on identifying opportunity for development based on individual strengths and capabilities.

What is coaching?

Coaching is an emerging and rapidly growing profession that serves real needs in today’s world.

  • Help people set actionable goals and reach them.

  • Ask their clients to accomplish more than they would have on their own.

  • Help their clients focus to produce results more quickly.

  • Provide the tools, support and structure needed for the client to make desired changes.
A coach does just what an athletic coach or music teacher does, only in a more complete and bigger way. A coach challenges you and takes the time to find out what winning in life means to you. A coach is your partner in living the life you know you want and can have, personally and professionally. A coach is someone to hold you accountable for your life, to make sure you really do live up to your potential. No matter where you are in life, there is always a desire for more. More success, more money, closer relationships, a deeper feeling of meaning in life. It is the nature of people to want to attain more, become more, be more, and we all struggle with how to get what we’re looking for.

Most people believe that “hard work and doing it on your own” are the keys to finding the life, success, money, or happiness that they seek. They believe that a price must be paid to attain what they want, and often that price is poor health, not having enough time to enjoy life, strained family relationships or lessened productivity. The saddest part is that, even though this effort may result in more of something, it is often not the something you had in mind, and you are back where you started, or worse, further from your real intentions. Athletes and performers know about this trap. They know they need someone else, a trained professional, to help them set goals, discover real needs, and work effectively to achieve excellence. So, they are willing to hire a coach or a teacher. No serious athlete or musician would expect to progress very far without one. Of course, even Tiger Woods has a coach!

The bottom line: Clients get focused, improve performance and produce better results because they have a coach.

Who hires a coach and why?

People hire a coach because
  • They want to be more effective.

  • They want to hone their skills, develop their talents and maximize/optimize their personal and business success.

  • They want support and guidance in the process.
It’s as simple as that. Coaches help a client get all three.

What happens when you hire a coach?

Many things, but the most important are:
  • You become more clear and committed.

  • You take more effective and focused actions towards goals immediately.

  • You stop putting up with what is dragging you down.

  • You create momentum so it’s easier to get results.

  • You set better, more effective, and fun goals.

Does a coach work on personal goals or business/professional goals?

A coach may work with a client on both, if the coach has been trained to do so and if the situation requires it. In addition, many coaches specialize in particular areas of professional and personal development. Interviewing at least three coaches is important to ensure that you find one who will meet your needs.

Why does coaching work?

Coaching works for several reasons:
  • Synergy between the coach and client creates momentum.

  • More compelling goals are set.

  • The client develops new skills, new levels of awareness, and new skills. These capacities translate into greater success and effectiveness.

Can I hire a coach just for a short-term, special project?

Yes. Some clients hire a coach to help them accomplish specific goals or projects. Usually, however, the client keeps working with the coach after that because there are even more interesting things to accomplish.

How long must I commit if I start working with a coach?

Most coaches ask for a three- to six-month commitment but usually let you stop immediately if coaching is not working for you right now. The initial time period of three- to six-months is recommended to be able to see meaningful results toward your initial goals. Sometimes, clients achieve their goals before the end of the initial period. However it may also take longer to complete if the goals are particularly ambitious.

What does it cost to hire a coach?

Most coaches working with individuals charge from $200 to $650 per month. Corporate Coaching and Executive Coaching programs often range from $1,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on the number of actual clients, and intensity and length of the work involved.