Recently I was asked this question by someone who desperately wanted to be certified as an “executive coach.”
Be careful. Here are the facts.
There is not one “best coaching certification or methodology for those who work with executives,” for several reasons.
1. Executive coaching is a new approach with a short history (about 20 years) within psychology (about 100 years). The protocols that would be “certifiable” have not yet been well defined. There is no external board or established practices, as in other professions such as healthcare, finance or law. I often ask, “Who certifies the certifiers?” (And I have been certified by several coaching providers for decades.) One example of certification based on my dissertation research with global professional coaches is here.
2. The coach training industry is estimated at 53,500 global coach practitioners and over $7B in annual revenue, with 115 accredited coach training programs (ICF, 2016). The reality is that coaching certifications and silly acronyms abound. I co-developed one back in 1999, when there were only about 20 ICF accredited coach training programs.
3. There is market confusion about definitions and coaching outcomes. The result is that vendors have responded to the market confusion. A gap exists between theory and practice because executive coaching lacks rigorous measurement, evidence-based protocols and standard processes. The largest organization, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) stated “the top future obstacles for coaching are (a) untrained individuals and (b) marketplace confusion (ICF, 2016).” That survey understates the confusion. Your question illustrates the desire by many to “get certified.”
4. In any marketplace vacuum, competitors emerge. Countless colleges and universities will declare that their certification programs define standards. Be careful. That archaic model presumes that academics know best, and we are increasingly aware of disruption in the marketplace. I like academics. My dissertation explored the competitive advantage of coaching protocols, using global professional coaches. As the “coaching profession” develops momentum, I encourage you to study the practical market demands for coaching protocols. You may want to be cautious. “The top future opportunities for coaching are (a) increased awareness of the benefits of coaching, and (b) credible data on ROI/ROE/outcomes (ICF, 2016)”. In short, we need to define protocols for outcome-based coaching, including useful certification programs.
5. Certification programs exist. I favor the ROI methodology described at the ROI Institute, and a 2-level executive coaching certification process. Last week the co-founder, Patti Phillips, and I discussed certification programs that moved beyond knowledge to practical demonstrations of mastery. She encouraged me to focus on practical applications. (Disclosure: I trademarked the AD-FIT coaching protocol when some F500 clients asked “How do you operationalize what works?” Those details are at Products Archive – Action Learning (https://action-learning.com/products/) and throughout this website. The fact is that “Many professional consultants or coaches do not adhere to evidence-based protocols (Foster & Auerbach, 2015; MacKie, 2014. Citation sources available upon request.)
6. Organizational clients may design their own executive coaching certification programs. They are cost-effective and foster cultural expectations. (Disclosure: I also serve as an engagement manager and executive coach at CoachSource | Executive Coaching Excellence (http://coachsource.com/), the largest global provider of executive coaching.) Those internal coaching certification programs are customized internally, with expertise from coaches like me, for specific business outcomes that are proprietary.
Bottom line: Certification for executive coaching implies a mature profession with protocols that satisfy a market demand.
If useful, please contact me here. I’d love to discuss your interest in executive coaching certification programs.
All the best, Doug
Recently 4 people have asked me that question. There may be something in the air, like ignorance or fear. Here is a quick model for you to determine if you are a good fit for your organization.
The Competing Values Framework (CVF)
Models provide cognitive maps or useful images for self-assessment and consulting. For instance, the competing values framework defines four boxes from two continua: flexibility or control, and internal or external focus (Cameron, 2008). The result is a simple diagnostic model that can be used to assess your organizational culture (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: The Competing Values Framework (Campbell, 2008)
As you read the following descriptions ask yourself these 3 questions:
- What quadrant best describes my organization’s values?
- What quadrant best describes my individual values?
- How can I re-design my life to work in an organization that supports my values?
Organizations with high flexibility/discretion and high external focus and differentiation are adhocracy oriented. These organizations are dynamic, entrepreneurial, people take risks, and they value innovation and experimentation. Leaders in an adhocracy are visionary, risk-tolerant, and innovative. The adhocracy organizations value experimentation, readiness to change, growth, acquisitions, and new products and services. Examples include technology-based disruptors such as Uber, Airbnb, Virgin. The key word is “create.”
Organizations with high stability/control and high external focus and differentiation are hierarchically oriented. These organizations favor structure, coordination, efficiency, and stability. Leaders in a hierarchically-oriented organization are good coordinators, organizers, and efficiency experts. The hierarchical organizations value stability, predictability, efficiency, rules, and policies. Examples include Bank of America, Community Health Systems(CHS), and Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). The key word is “control.”
Organizations with high internal focus/integration and high stability and control are market-oriented. These organizations are results-oriented, value competition, achievement, and performance. Leaders in a market-oriented organization are hard-driving producers, directors, and competitive. They value winning, increased market share, achieving goals and targets, and rewards. Examples include Merrill Lynch, insurance salespeople, and car salespeople. The key word is “compete.”
Organizations with high internal focus/integration and high flexibility/discretion are very personal places, like an extended family, where participation, mentoring and nurturing are encouraged. The leaders in clan-oriented organizations are coaches, mentors, or parent figures. These organizations value loyalty, tradition, collaboration and teamwork. Examples include the United Way, most churches, most nonprofits. The key word is “collaborate.”
So where is your organization? Where are your individual values? These opposite and competing assumptions are useful descriptors of dominant orientations and value sets. But they do not determine behavior. You determine behavior, when you make your choices. Your individual values do not change.
The key executive coaching question is: How can you re-design your life to work in an organization that supports your values?
Frankly, that is why people hire an external consultant as an executive coach. Once we know an organizational culture, then we can predict your individual effectiveness, success of a merger or acquisition, and your individual quality of life.
Then get in touch with me, your Nashville-based leadership and executive coach, at 615.905.1892 or schedule a complimentary leadership coaching session to discuss how you learn best. As your leadership coach, I strive to provide you with the tools to create an impact, rally optimistic coworkers and comrades, as well as maximize group and individual productivity and creation.
What are you waiting for?
Download this list of services and investment levels now:
Cameron, K, (2008). A process for changing organization culture. In T. Cummings (Ed.), Handbook of organization development (Ch 5). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Think of a recent example of success in your experience, and an example of failure in your experiences. Then consider the following formulas:
Learning from success
Our accomplishments certainly define us; look at any profile on LinkedIn or your net profits from last year. And there is plenty of support for successful leaders, in western cultures, that value heroic leadership. Those examples range from Jeff Bezos to Mark Zuckerberg to the popularized leaders in this month’s Forbes or Inc. magazines. That focus on heroic leadership may reflect hierarchical beliefs such as “the boss is the super-leader” or our team is “too big/smart to fail.” Heroic leaders exist in most cultures, as described by Campbell (1988). However, excessive success can lead to hubris. Success can endanger a leader, especially if they lose the ability to consider multiple perspectives. I have witnessed examples from previous executive coaching, management consulting, and leadership training clients who have lost their focus on a corporate vision. Successful leaders often need external coaches to speak truth to power.
Learning from failure
Failures also define a leader’s character. We recall our failures from 8th grade and from last month. Some leaders post a list of failures in the hallway as a public reminder. Did you know that we recall failures longer than we recall successes, and that the memories of those failures are located in the oldest part of our brain where we process emotions? Last week I participated in a fascinating webinar on “Coaching the post-heroic leader,” led by Jeff Hull at Columbia University. That webinar focused on recent studies describing adaptive leaders who are comfortable working in a fluid, networked, virtual world that supports failure. The lean startup movement described by Reis (2011) and the disruption models (Christianson, 2011) encourage failing fast, and failing often in order to gain a competitive advantage. From a systems thinking perspective (Senge, 2006), failure can provide an external stimulation that helps leaders stay true to their values and character. Leaders who are failing at one behavior may need external coaches to teach them additional tactics and strategies.
Your Consultant’s Conclusions:
My tentative conclusion is that leaders are in greater danger from success, than from failure. But my conclusion is less important than yours.
Ask yourself these leadership coaching questions:
- What have I learned in the past month?
- How do I know that I have learned that?
- What do I need to learn in the next 6 months?
Then call me at 615-905-1892 today, or schedule a complimentary leadership coaching session to discuss how you learn best. As your leadership coach, I strive to provide you with the tools to create an impact, rally optimistic coworkers and comrades, as well as maximize group and individual productivity and creation.
What are you waiting for?
Download this list of services and investment levels now:
Campbell, J. (1988). The Power of Myth. New York: Doubleday.
Christensen, C.M. (2011). The innovator’s dilemma; The revolutionary book that will change the way you do business. New York: Harper Business.
Reis, E. (2011). The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses. New York: Crown Business.
Senge, P. M. (2006). The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. Random House/Currency.
Fact: We all aspire to be a superhero
Fact: I have written a book with a purple cover called “Passionate Actiuon: 5 Steps to Creating Success in Life and Work” (2007)
Fact: There is no sex in the book. Sorry.
So what does it mean to be the Passionate Action guy?
1. Passions are expressions of strong emotion. They help us create. Passions lead to something else. Think of any relationship– there are passionate impulses at the start, yet relationships are hard to maintain over time. Think of any business- there is a passionate focus at the start- yet it is hard to maintain most businesses over time. Sparks start fires. But they do not maintain fires.
2. Actions require focused accountability. Nothing sexy involved. Daily habits lead to results. Make your sales. Focus on delivery.
This is HOW I help my clients make money and serve others. Call me at 704.895.6479 for details.
My experience is that we create success when 1) luck meets 2) prepared opportunity.
In that formula, the only thing I can control is preparation. And so I continue, day after day, year after year. Since 1997.
Success starts with the physical actions. Like running and yoga stretching. Like daily calls to prospects. Like KPIs.
So why wait? Call me at 704.895.6479 with your story.
Most of us need a little more passionate action in our lives.
In February, 2012, we surveyed 24 energy industry leaders in the Charlotte, NC region.
Here are their responses to the question: What are the most significant challenges facing your company in the next 12 months?
What do you think of this data?
1. To see the complete survey results from the 2012 Energy Leadership Project, reply here.
2. To be included in the 2013 Energy Leadership Project, click here.
3. For comments or questions, call Doug at 704.895.6479.