Take a look at any Coaching forum or Facebook group and you are likely to see two things:
- At least a few people asking about Coaching courses, which one to do and if they are worth doing.
- An abundance of commentors, debating the importance of, or irrelevance of, a Coaching qualification (and the messages back and forth can get surprisingly heated!)
It is certainly a hot, and perhaps even controversial, topic!
Personally, I am a huge advocate of ‘learning on the job’. Many prominent people in business today do not have any formal qualifications – Richard Branson, Michael Dell and Rachael Ray to name but a few. They got stuck in and learnt their industry through trial, error and hard work. And, in my own experience whilst working professionally as a Coach, some of my biggest learnings have come from actually being out there just coaching, coaching, coaching – doing it, reflecting, getting feedback and practicing.
So, having said that, why did I decide to spend 18 months doing a Coaching qualification? And why am I now doing another one? This is something I get asked a lot – and certainly something my looming 8,000 word thesis makes me ask myself regularly! So I have taken a look back on my initial reasons, ones that still stand today, and have grouped them into three key areas to answer these questions.
- To show my dedication to my own professional development and to the service I offer to my clients.
I have always felt that it is integral to my own continuing professional development to keep up to date with current practices, ethics and theory in my industry. To get complacent would be letting my clients and myself down so by choosing to do my qualifications I would be placing myself in a situation where my skills would be stretched, my thoughts and opinions would be challenged (or strengthened) and I would be mentored and supervised by some of the leading Coaches in the UK.
I also spent a lot of time researching what qualifications I wanted to do and by what training provider. I am happy that I have chosen diplomas that have been recognised by the International Coaching Federation’s internationally recognised standards, and because of that I feel it is my responsibility to be representative of and uphold those standards through my work. I want my clients to know that I am held accountable if I do not meet those standards and/or I act unprofessionally – their expectations of me should be high and I aim to always meet those expectations.
- To challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.
It had been almost ten years since I left education when I started to look at studying again. By the time I left university at twenty one, I felt that I had had enough of ‘traditional’ learning – I was tired of the stress and anxiety caused by essay deadlines and exams. It was nice to have my free time back to relax and do whatever I wanted with it. So the thought of ‘giving up’ my Netflix time and swapping it for paper writing and course reading was a bit painful. I would also be graded on my work again (what if I failed?!?). Did I really want to put myself through that again? But who am I to challenge the limiting beliefs and fears of my clients so they can progress themselves, if I wasn’t willing to do that myself? So I took a deep breath and went for it. Not only did I prove to myself that with some self-discipline and good organisation I was able to study AND maintain a social life (with the occasional Netflix binge…) but that the thought of getting graded wasn’t such a big deal! Although I had to ‘shhh’ the little Hermione Granger in me a few times, ultimately the final grade didn’t matter as much. It was the learning, the challenging of my perceptions and the feedback from some fantastic trainers and mentors that was important. And I am a more skilled and confident Coach (and person) for it.
- To future proof my business.
You don’t need a diploma and/or an accreditation to work as a Coach. But I suspect this won’t be the case for much longer. Coaching (whether that be Career, Executive, Life, Confidence…) is becoming increasingly viewed as a valuable resource worth investing in to individuals and companies – and my conversations with business leaders and those in charge of the development of employees have confirmed to me that having evidence of accredited training (along with a strong reputation and great referrals) is something they would want to see before they would allocate budget to hire a Coach. Much like having a qualification with the ACCA is an important component of whether you would invest your money into hiring a good accountant for example, I predict the same will increasingly become the case when looking to hire a Coach, particularly in the corporate world.
And one bonus reason, of course:
I love Coaching! I wanted to surround myself with other Coaches and Coaches to be, to make new lasting friendships and build strong support networks and learn from some of the leaders in the field. When you’re passionate about something you want to immerse yourself in it and soak up as much knowledge about it as you can – and that’s exactly what I did when I did my first diploma, and what I am getting to do again with my second. Whether my client’s hire me because of my qualifications or not, the bottom line is that I had a really good time studying. And when the time comes to write that 8,000 word thesis, I know that chances are I’ll have some fun along the way!
If you would like to know more about what I studied, my own experiences of training, or are thinking of becoming a Coach yourself, do contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be happy to speak with you.