Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A look at the creation of the ICF Core Competencies

Posted on Wednesday, June 06, 2012 by International Coach Federation

When the ICF was formed, a large part of the desired vision for the organization was to create and solidify coaching as a viable profession. In order to do this, it was determined that there was a need to look ahead and consider what would have to be in place to support this initiative, as well as successfully push back against any form of external regulation around this emerging profession.

To that end, in 1998/1999, related committees were formed to determine:

  • A common definition of coaching;
  • Competencies that define the expression of coaching;
  • A system of assessment and examination of coaching skills;
  • Levels of credentials and required training and practice hours; and
  • Ethics & Standards.
The committee, that was formed to determine the examination process, was called the Portfolio Exam Committee, and was co-chaired by Pamela Richarde (Coach U) and Laura Whitworth (CTI). At the time, coaching was still very young, with no universally excepted standards,  thus the various coaching education organizations were still not well connected. 
It was the job of this committee not only to do the work that was assigned, but to bring together a disparate group of organizations that were training and educating coaches at the time.

When given the job of heading this committee, Pamela and Laura reached out to all of the 'known' (visible) coaching programs that they had access to at the time, and invited them to be working members of this committee. There were eight organizations that agreed to embark on this ground breaking work: 
  • Coaches Training Institute (CTI), Laura Whitworth;
  • Coach U, Inc, Pamela Richarde;
  • Hudson Institute, Frederic M. Hudson;
  • Newfield, Terrie Lupberger;
  • Coach for Life, Peter Reding;
  • Academy for Coach Training (ACT), Fran Fisher;
  • Success Unlimited Network (SUN) Teri-E Belf; and
  • New Ventures West, Pam Weiss.
When they gathered as a group, with the above individuals and various volunteers from each organization, they realized that there was a need to first agree upon a common definition of coaching. After completing that initial step (a major one!), they needed then to determine the competencies that were present in the art and science of coaching ("being a coach" and the "process of coaching"). As most all of the programs were from different philosophical approaches and contexts, it took the group some time to filter out the context and come up with the core elements that were present in all of the approaches. They worked diligently via weekly telebridge meetings for over a year. They then, after many delightfully challenging and creative meetings, ultimately achieved consensus on the foundational elements of what are now known as the Eleven ICF Core Coaching Competencies.

Once the competencies were created and agreed upon, they next outlined a virtual examination process to assess these competencies. A solid year after they began this process, the coaching community had final agreement on: The definition of coaching, the core competencies of coaching and the beginnings of a way to assess this competency effectively! This was amazing and a tipping point for coaching as a profession. This work has laid a solid framework for how coaching and the profession of coaching continues to evolve today.

Over the years, the ground breaking work created by these coaching educators, has been the foundation for the creation of other competencies by emerging coaching associations and organizations. Some have added to these core competencies. Others have developed focus market specific competencies to bring clarity for coaching in the various contexts (i.e. business, management, executive coaching). And yet others are growing educational programs in universities around the world. With the competencies in mind, many of these communities are now gathering a solid body of knowledge to support the competencies and various philosophical approaches to coaching. All of this has emerged from the fertile ground of work that was done by these eight coaching education providers and volunteers that supported the success of these projects.

As a note, parallel to this process there was a committee working on ethics. They too were successful in creating a foundation for determining coaching ethics and standards for professional coaching. Indeed, this has continued to evolve with the creation of an Ethical Conduct Review board and ICF member support with mediation services available.

In what might be characterized as one of the most rapidly growing "professions" on the planet, coaching continues to evolve and make it's way into over 117 countries! With a solid set of ethics, standards, code of conduct and competencies, coaching as a profession is well on it's way.

Tidbits of ICF history, shared by Pamela Richarde, MA, MCC.
Pamela Richarde, MA, MCC
Pamela Richarde is a pioneer in the field of professional coaching, and has assisted in shaping what we know coaching to be today. A Master Certified Coach (MCC), as well as a mentor coach and coaching supervisor, Pamela is also a founding member of the Association of Coach Training Organizations (ACTO) and a past President of the ICF. In addition to her competency as a coach, she is a seasoned facilitator, speaker and trainer, having led hundreds of courses in both virtual and live settings in a variety of cultures, regions and business contexts.

Pamela holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, a Masters Degree in Performance/Directing, with some further doctoral course work hours in human and organizational development. She was born in Berkeley, California and has additionally resided in the UK, the Middle East and the Caribbean, presently making her home in Portland, Oregon. A dedicated explorer, she is also a licensed hypnotist, a union actress, a Tai Chi Chuan practitioner and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Northern Style Shao Lin Kung Fu.

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