Almost ten years ago, I decided that I wanted to become a professional coach. Working in leadership and human resource roles for some of Canada’s largest employers in the financial services sector gave me many opportunities to coach people. I learned that I loved being a coach — aka a strategic thinking partner and an impartial, confidential, accountability advocate.
Want to be a coach?
While still working full-time for my employer and with their consent, I attended coach training (on my own time and dime). Back then, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) was not as well known as the global leader and gold standard for professional coaches. I received my first coaching certification from an organization whose training was not recognized by the ICF.
So I started again and took more coach training. This time, I found a training program that would check all the important boxes in order to meet my coaching goals.
As of the date of this post, I am awaiting a decision from the ICF regarding my application to be recognized as a Professional Certified Coach (PCC).
If you are looking to become a professional coach certified with the ICF, I invite you to continue reading.
Over the years, I have learned a great deal about coach training, mentor coaching, and the ICF.
Welcome to 2021!
Well, wasn’t that an interesting year?
It stretched you, might have frustrated you and it may have revealed more of you.
In the face of an unexpected life twists, three groups of people show up: Innovators, Managers and Resistors
Each group plays an important part. You will have experienced each of these roles this year. Some for short periods of time and some for long periods with a lot of slipping back and forth between them.
Let’s bring your focus to the three roles we all can experience in this coming year.
There will be Pacesetters, Leaders, and Influencers.
- The innovators can shift to be the Pacesetters
- The Managers can shift to be the Leaders
- The Resistors can shift to be Influencers
Pacesetters of 2021 will work fast. Your instincts will carve out the future direction. Take heed, be sure to bring the people along with you or all will be for nothing.
Leaders of tomorrow will be the crafty ones. As a Manager last year, you optimized “what is”. As a Leader you now optimize “what will be”.
Influencers of this year, your mission is clear. Bring forward only those ideas from the past which will work powerfully today. Respect and honor those ideas that worked well in the past, might have even defined you, yet no longer serve you. Let go to embrace them as a part of your history.
Let’s speak of the moments when we retreat or get stuck into last year’s change induced roles of Innovator, Manager or Resistor. These roles are in response to unexpected sudden change. They give us the time to re-group and re-orient ourselves.
2021 beckons you to step into action. Carve out your path forward. Emerge and make your mark.
Oh, and if you don’t get the new role right the first time. CONGRATULATIONS. Opting to step-up and out is the forward movement that breeds success.
Don’t let 2021 define you. DEFINE IT with your flair.
Which one will you be this year?
Pacesetter, Leader, or Influencer.
— Merv Rogers, MCC, Chief Coaching Officer at Coaching Out of the Box®
The following are questions you should ask any coaching company you are considering partnering with for your Coach Training to become an ICF Credentialed Coach...
What are the credentials of the coach facilitators who are delivering the program?Ask for the experience and confirm the credentials of the coach facilitators who will be taking part in your training. Invest some time to speak to the people behind the program you are considering.
Is the program schedule convenient? Does it offer flexibility?Can you do the program from home or on a laptop from anywhere or do you need to be physically present at a facility? What happens if you can’t make a session? Can you make it up or is there a replay?
Does the program have a good reputation?Do they have an abundance of testimonials? Ask them if it’s possible to speak with one of their graduates? Are their trainers ICF credentialed? Search the internet to see what people are saying about them online.
Does the program provide the training necessary for you to apply for ICF ACC Credential?Make sure the program you take has enough coach-specific training and mentor coaching hours for you to qualify for the ICF ACC Credential. Note: In addition to coach-specific training and mentor coaching hours, you will also need to complete 100 hours of coaching experience.
Do they offer ongoing ways to fine-tune your coaching skills?
Do they offer free resources on their site that will help you refine your coaching skills? How invested are they in providing you with what you need to excel beyond just selling you their program?
Are there any costs beyond the program price (and ICF Credential Application fees) required to obtain your ICF Credential?
Is mentor coaching included or is there an additional charge? Are enough ICF coaching hours included for you to apply for your ICF ACC Credential?
If your goal is to start your own coaching practice, what support is offered to help you launch and maintain a successful coaching practice?What guidance do they offer? Do they offer any training on the business side of coaching? How committed are they to your success after you complete their program?
Backed up by a high level of customer service - If you have a question—even if you never end up taking one of our programs—we will answer it for you. We are 100% committed to your success. We know that some aspects of the coach credentialing process can be confusing. So, remember, we’re here to help you on your coaching journey.
Why Coaching Out of the Box?
At Coaching Out of the Box, we are committed to your success and we’re passionate about coaching. We will do everything within our power to help you succeed at both your coaching career and becoming an ICF credentialed coach… because when you succeed, we succeed. And it’s not just about YOU succeeding, all the people you impact with your coaching skills will do better!
Coaching Out of the Box offers you the following benefits, our coaching is…
- Powered by programs developed by leading coaching experts – Our 5/5/5 program and other Coaching Out of the Box programs were developed by Master Certified Coaches (of which there are only 1,174 in the world), some who played a key role in the development of the ICF Core Competencies.
- Performed by experts – As of December 2019, there were 1,174 Master Certified Coaches in the world. Coaching Out of the Box has four MCCs on our faculty who take part in our Fast Track to ICF Credential coaching program. Not only that, every mentor coach who takes part in the mentor coaching component of our training is a PCC level coach (or higher).
- Convenient and adaptable to your lifestyle - We’ve been doing coaching online for over ten years now. Learning in a virtual environment means you won’t spend money on gas and will avoid the hassle of driving to and from a location. All you need is access to a working computer, webcam, and an internet connection, and you can become an ICF credentialed coach in as little as six months. And while we encourage you to attend all the classes live, if due to circumstances beyond your control you can’t attend a session live, you’ll be able to watch a recording of it, so you don’t fall behind. That said, due to ICF guidelines that require coaching classes to be interactive and dynamic, you can only miss two of the live classes per module. Note: If you do miss a class, you must fill out a Missed Class Report.
- Interactive – Our goal is to provide you with a coaching experience similar to the classroom environment. You’ll be able to ask questions (and receive the answers) in real-time. Plus, if you need clarification about anything, let us know and we’ll address your concern.
- Packed with the skills you need to be an effective coach - While you’ll learn many coaching skills in our 5/5/5 program, there are five skills that go to the very core of coaching. These are the five skills you need to conduct an impactful dialogue with people. These should be used in all your coaching interactions. You’ll also learn our five-step coaching exchange. This is a framework to be used between you, the coach, and your coachee. You’ll also discover the five guiding principles for coaching. This is what will distinguish you as a professional coach from someone who just says they’re a coach. These are the five key elements needed to create an effective and transformational coaching environment and to ensure you always have the right mindset for coaching.
- Easy to understand – As noted above, we’ve simplified the coaching process into five key core coaching skills, a five-step coaching exchange, and five guiding principles to follow. This makes our process easy to remember and easy to use and when something has those characteristics, you’re more likely to put your coaching skills into action.
This list of 10+1 important considerations when Coaching Through Crisis is presented as a mindful guide you can put in practice today.
Reset your coaching agreement. Align to the new conditions.
In the coaching relationship we have an agreement. We have an agreement in terms of what we're going to talk about. We have a formal agreements for payment. There's also a subtle coaching agreement, which simply says "what are we working on together? What's the focus of our conversation? What are the outcomes? How are we going to measure our success? Now is a really good time to realign those those coaching agreements by having a conversation with each one of your clients to align to a new set of conditions and continue to align as conditions change.
Shift their fear to facts – Ask: What do you know for sure?
It's real easy to focus on the fear because it's available - the shift we need is to move from fear to facts. A powerful question to ask is "What do we know for sure?" We know we have this fear somebody might get ill. What are we know for sure is they are not sick today. We know for sure if they're taking precautions today. We know for sure is that they're isolating and they're following the instructions that's what we know for sure. A grounding in reality of what you know. What's the truth of today? What's the what's the truth in the moment.
For example, on a virtual walk with a client, who was at about 10,000 feet in terms of stress and frustration and overwhelm and work -- for the forty minutes all the focus on that one question. "What do we know for sure?" The client started out unsure but you keep circling back to that question. By the time we were done with our virtual walk, they felt they knew where I'm going. They had very good clarity. Fear facts replace fear very very substantially.
Fully listen for the context. Listen for what is missing.
One of the core skills of any coach any manager and hopefully any parent is the ability to listen. In coaching we call it listening for context. The adage that only 7% of what we say in words is what's communicated and the rest, the other 93%, is nonverbal and tone. It's really important to listen to the context of the conversations that are happening, particularly in this kind of crisis situation. You listen for what is missing. If they normally talk about their work, kids, or goals and aspirations and today they're not. That is a powerful observation that you can make and bring to their attention. Really fully listening to the context of what's happening of their mood.
Avoid being hooked by drama – look underneath the drama.
The best gift you can give somebody is to accept their drama for what it is and look around look beyond and underneath it. It's real easy as a coach or anyone supporting anyone else to get sucked into stories. A technique is to avoid the story and look at the bigger picture. What else is happening in addition to the story. You help the client look past and beyond their own drama. We know drama is fun. It pays the bills. We love getting into the messy. The client loves getting into the messy. They love to getting into their own story but then they get stuck in their story. Our job as coaches is to get them out of the story and into the next story.
Shift to shorter term goals.
There's a fear for the future. Oftentimes, in coaching, we we tend to work in longer-term goals. Where do you want to be when they grow up what's the job look like. Now it's time to bring it back to shorter term goals. As coaches, we have to proactively consciously decide to shift our clients from the longer-term expectation. There's too much mystery meat in the long-term. What do you need right now? What do you need by the end of the day? What do you need by next week? What's the right thing for you? what's the right in your family, right now? We have to work hard to get out of the pattern that we have set for ourselves of always working towards strategic goals. Now is the time to throttle back from long-term goals.
Build real milestones that can be celebrated.
One of our jobs as coaches is to give clients different perspectives. Give them ideas for for possible outcomes. We can't dictate ideas but we can help create the outcomes. Part of creating outcomes or goals is is setting some milestones. Come up with milestones that can be celebrated. During times of crisis times there are not many clients that want to celebrate. We still need to find those kinds of milestones. Those kinds of things that will give clients joy.
For example, a client is in an unfortunate situation with a lot of family stress. As a coach you could say, we'll celebrate when the problem goes away. But that's too far off. That's a long term goal. The milestone created with the client was to give them a job throughout the day. When the kids are frustrated, the spouse is upset., and everyone is upset; whenever someone in the family smiles, acknowledge and celebrate it. It's a milestone that can be worked on today.
This also works for leaders. Help your employees celebrate a milestone of success, rather than "It's difficult to get a hold of that company because everybody's away" or "I can't finish this project because nobody responds to me". Those are all things that make us unhappy, so why not celebrate when you get an email back from that person that's avoided you? Why not celebrate when the day is over and your to-do list is done. As coaches, we can find ways to set creative milestones.
Increase the connection frequency.To increase the frequency of connection with clients, we have to be creative. You can offer virtual coffees to people or leave a voicemail that's a check-in. One of our facilitators decided to reach out to several of her class individuals to say, "How's it going? What's your life like? She received spontaneous very positive reactions coming from people. They are thankful for being acknowledged. Another example is a person who is normally in a fairly active busy trading environment. They are used to constant contact so this person is making contact with everyone on their client list every day. That's a tall commitment. Checking in with clients every one to two weeks should be an achievable goal.
Reduce the small talk about the crisis, keep focused on the immediate needs.
Small talk kills time. It's a conscious part coaching agreements to create rapport and coaching presence. Those are all skills we teach in our courses. Don't whittle them away and water them down into small talk because that's when the drama comes in. "How are you surviving through the crisis?" "What's your family doing?" It's interesting information. The only reason a coach asks a question is to get to the reason. The coachee of the client gets an awareness. That's really all that happens in the beginning. As coaches, you have to get past that and move to what's the most important to talk about today. This is the client's time. They are an important person. What do they want to tell you, to share with you today.
Start asking: “What does good need to look like?”
What does good need to look like? It might not be what we knew last week. There will be a new business as usual. We can spend all sorts of time guessing what it might be. We could spend all sorts of energy and fuel into how to set goals for when we return to 'normal'. The truth is we don't know when we're going to return. We don't know what our business use will be. Let's not get stuck in that rut. Instead, move your goals to an intention. What's your intention for the next few weeks?
Rest and meditate? What's your intention around your meditation? What do you want it to give you? Do you need to get away from the kids? Do you want to have a moment just to yourself? What's your real intention? Set that intention. What's your intention as a coach for your clients? Describe intention in the immediate terms as opposed to in the future.
Do your self-care, be the best in every moment.
When you stop developing yourself, your practice suffers. When you start developing yourself, practicing self-care, work towards more education, your practice comes back to life. You get more enthusiastic as you develop more techniques. The energy you're absorbing because you're learning is being welcomed. It's attractive to new and existing clients. Take care of yourself first so that you can actually be in your very best moment every moment that you're with your client, your family, your staff, or whatever the context within which you operate. You must be healthy mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally in order to really provide a service to any other human being. Check yourself first and then move to your client.
Value your service, ask for fair payment.As empathetic and sympathetic as coaches are, please recognize the value that you can bring to the people you support. We are not saying go charge them five hundred dollars an hour just because you're a rock star. You have the opportunity with your skills to make a difference in people's lives. In order to continue to do that, there needs to be some level of payment for service. It accomplishes two things. As we discuss in coach training, it's a bit of a two-way obligation. If you give things for free that's the value. This means a client is probably not going to show up for meetings or sessions. If you place some sort of payment into it; then, you're more likely to have your work taken seriously. It's just the way humans work.
Whenever you shop and you see an item that normally costs $100 and someone is selling it for $25, you know that's not the value that you want. Payment can be physical dollars, a coffee set, it could be a gift certificate. Or thinking further out, it could be a testimonial for your website. However you decide to take payment, stop giving it away for free because you are much more valuable than that!
If you want to be a great coach you must be a great listener.
Listening skills are essential for anyone who wants to be a great coach. Most people think that if they hear somebody, they must be listening to them, but that isn’t true at all.
Hearing is the passive act of perceiving sound by the ear, but listening is active. Listening is something you intentionally choose to do. It requires concentration so that your brain can process what is heard and then create meaning from words and sentences. On average, people forget between one thirds and half of what we heard within 8 hours. The responsibility of coaching means that it isn’t good enough to be average.
Great listeners ask questions that tap into the coachee’s ideas and wisdom. They listen for what is not said. They check in to make sure they understand what the other person is saying. They stay focused, they have patience, they don’t make assumptions, and they get it right. Most of us aren’t born with it, but lucky for us, great listening is a skill that we can learn and practice.
What gets in the way of being a great listener?
Many things get in the way of being a great listener. Some of the challenges are human and some of them are technological, but we have to be alert to them all before we start listening.
- Distractions in the room
- Mentally scripting what you need to do or say next
- Tempting incoming emails and text messages
- The need to get your point out or disagree with the coachee
- Boredom or disinterest in the topic
- Complacency about listening
And the other person in your conversation faces all the same challenges while they listen to you.
Why being a great listener is so important for coaches
The ICF defines listening as the “Ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self-expression.”
People are yearning to be listened to and listening leads to learning. As coaches we help our clients go farther, faster, easier, quicker, and better than they would have without a coach. But there is no way to do this if we aren’t listening to what the client is really saying.
Great listening skills have never been as important as they are today. People are dealing with so much information and so many distractions while facing bigger and more complex challenges. People need to be listened to.
Great coaches learn great listening skills.
We teach great coaches
We have a wide range of programs that incorporate listening skills into learning. The following tables provide an overview of our courses.
|Take the first step towards coaching||Obtain an ICF Associate Certified Coach (ACC) Credential|
|On your way to an ICF Credential?|
|Experienced coaches wanting CCE’s in Core Competencies||Introduce or train others in coaching|
To find out more about our programs and where you can enhance your listening skills, schedule a call with our Program Advisor.