At the end of last year I submitted my International Coaching Federation (ICF) accreditation renewal for my Professional Certified Coach status (PCC) as it had been three years since I acquired it. This week my badge arrived from the US, and it reminded me of the first time the credential came through.
In this reflection I remembered how hard it was to get to the first 500 hours of experience but how much the advanced coaching training had made a difference to getting these hours and how much investment it took to apply. For this latest renewal the evidence supplied was how much continuous professional development work had been undertaken and again I reflected on my earlier investment in time and finances. So, was it worth it?
The answer for me is yes, but let me explain why.
For my clients
In delivering my coaching services I have the knowledge that I continue to meet professional standards and deliver coaching that adds value by applying the core principles of how coaching works - in supporting clients as they reach new outcomes for their coaching objectives.
Working on my coaching skills and competencies involves being observed and challenged by my peers and my mentors to stay in line with ICF competencies. Sometimes I am tested by my client centricity and experience of what my clients ask of me in leadership coaching. Understanding what PCC coaching is and how it should be delivered helps me to be clear on my offer, ethics and boundaries. I often voice the contract and any deviations to my clients and the feedback is clear on the difference which competency rich coaching makes to them and they refer me on to others.
Maintaining competency standards and ensuring that the work I offer is clear, ethical and fit for purpose is a continuous workstream as part of my business and an overhead that I am happy to invest in as, by doing so, I am able to present with my clients in the knowledge that I am delivering my best work with every client. It is a badge of credibility for these clients, who appreciate the increased number of flying hours it has taken to get there.
As a leadership coach I must continuously work on opening doors to securing work and the PCC badge has grown in significance in the last five years with the purchasers and providers of coaching services. Many associate rôles now insist on the PCC level to be able to offer you to their clients and more often an open proposal of work with a corporate will involve the procurement team, who request the assurance of the accreditation level to support the fee difference.
For my coach development clients
My mission to support newly qualified coaches could have only been enabled by being accredited at the layer above their initial aspirations. To Mentor Coach or Supervise coaches we should be able to guide from experience and support the development stretch of professional standards. The Solopreneur Coach community also supports the business development aspirations of coaches from the perspective of having walked in their newly qualified shoes through the ACC steps up to the PCC level. The journey towards Master coach is the one I am on currently and I pride myself on being agile enough to understand the commercial reality of why the previous accreditation matters in my offer to support others and what the MCC status will allow me to do next.
For the industry as a whole
I have accreditation with the ICF and for my team coaching I also look towards the EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council) but there are others out there that will make sense for you and your offer. The wider benefit of accreditation is the sense of belonging to the profession and being more in tune with how the coaching market moves with the times. It is important to remain current and aware. Whilst at times I feel challenged by some of the moves made by accreditation bodies to regulate the industry it always feels that we are all better off having the guidelines for our work and we benefit from the influence that regulation can have on our customers as they feel secure in the trust they place in us.
Whilst the downside is the investment, which is annual and constant, the payoff is credibility and the professional identity that encourages a client to choose us. There is the value. I may not wear the badge with pride but it is next to me as part of my coaching toolkit.
If you are keen to explore accreditation or share your views on the best organisation for you to join come and post a question in the Solopreneur Coaching community forum.