When coaches ask whether they should get a coaching credential from the ICF (International Coach Federation), my answer is an enthusiastic “Yes!” And then I say, “Why wouldn’t you?”
The ICF credentials of ACC (Associated Certified Coach), PCC (Professional Certified Coach), and MCC (Master Certified Coach) are considered the gold standard in coaching. It tells the world that a set of outside eyes have reviewed your coaching, using universal standards, and determined that yes – you have achieved this level of proficiency.
This is important for those who want to hire us to coach. They will know that we have not only studied coaching, but that our coaching has been reviewed, and we have received informed feedback from an expert who has witnessed our coaching first-hand.
Having an approved mentor coach is a required and invaluable part of the credentialing process. One of the things your mentor coach does is listen to recordings of your coaching sessions. I know that may sound intimidating. Truth be told, everyone shakes in their boots and feels nervous to submit recordings to their mentor coach, but doing that gives you access to customized feedback about how to improve.
It also prepares you for the credentialing process, where you’ll submit similar coaching recordings to coaches – called assessors – who have been specially trained to review your coaching. They rate your coaching using markers for each of the core competencies, and your mentor coach will use a similar rating sheet. That way you get very specific feedback about what to look at in your own coaching.
As soon as I become aware that someone holds a coaching credential, I immediately know they’re legitimate, that they understand coaching and know what it is, and they take it and themselves seriously enough to involve themselves in a rigorous process.
Would you go to a doctor or a dentist, who had not been reviewed at some point in their training? They didn’t just go to class or write a paper. They had someone looking over their shoulder while they worked. Personally, I think more professions should require this stage of demonstrating competency – almost like an apprenticeship – where you can show that you can use the skills well.
One of the most important benefits of achieving a coaching credential is the confidence you gain as you work with a mentor coach. You will develop both competence and confidence – I think these go hand in hand. And that confidence comes through to clients, who see that we believe in the coaching process and in our own abilities.
A coaching credential is something to be very proud of. I have always framed and displayed my credentialing certificates, along with my graduation certificates from my coach training programs, and they are in front of me as I work.
All coaches can experience “imposter syndrome” at times – a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt. I hear it especially from newer coaches who say they don’t feel like they’re really a coach. When those feelings arise, seeing that certificate on the wall can be a reminder that yes, I am legitimate! A coaching credential gives us a way we can accurately represent ourselves: here’s where I am in the coaching process; here’s what’s guaranteed (“don’t just take my word for it!”).