Monday, August 13, 2012

An MCC’s Insight: Coaching life and how to choose the right accreditation

Posted on Monday, August 13, 2012 by International Coach Federation

This post first appeared on the official Blue Mesa Group blog. Download "Get Credentialed" infographic.


The world of executive coaching is rife with titles and designations and acronyms. Simply finding the nuance between different classifications of coach can be bewildering, let alone choosing the one that’s best for you.
Fortunately, we have some people who have walked that path before you and are willing to share their accrued knowledge.

Blue Mesa Group’s CEO and Co-founder Micki McMillan opens up about her experience and coaching credentials so those interested in continuing their training understand what it takes.

What type of coaching do you do?
At Blue Mesa Group, we focus in executive and leadership transformational coaching. My clients typically lead teams, and are looking for new ways to be leaders. Transformational Coaching challenges the thinking, invites reflection, and co-creates options or choices for how to be now and in the future.

How long have you been a coach?
I’ve been coaching since 1995, after having left an executive leadership role at a gas and electric utility. That utility had hired a coach for me. That person became my confidante, supporter, and ‘reality checker’. Without his expertise, I would have been sunk.

What type of credentials do you have?
I am a Master Certified Coach, and have had that designation since 2000. Prior to that, I had my Professional Certified Coach designation, which I earned in the late 90’s.

What are the benefits to earning a MCC compared to the other titles offered through the ICF?
ICF requires the Program Directors of their accredited coach training programs to be an MCC. This is very important to Blue Mesa Group, since teaching other coaches is one of our core businesses. So my MCC allows us to have an accredited program – of which there are fewer than 100 in the world.

How difficult is it to run a coaching business while being a coach?
It takes a particular skill, personality, and willingness to run a business and be a coach. It takes a tolerance for risk, a willingness to invest time and money into the business. It requires business acumen, tolerance for varied cash flow, and understanding of how and when to grow.

For me, it is exciting, but it has had its share of ‘pucker moments’ for my business partner and me. We started this business at the height of the financial crisis in 2008. I remember that we looked at each other and said this is either a really stupid idea or a great idea, but what the heck – let’s go!!! Since then we have had double and triple digit growth. And we’ve worked a ton of hours, and literally put blood sweat and tears into Blue Mesa Group.

The rewards have been sweet, as we have earned the reputation of being a coaching and consulting firm that has high standards, great coaches, and high client satisfaction.

What are your most enjoyable coaching moments?
When the client gets his/her own insights and ‘aha’s!’ that enable them to create new realities that are both generative and practical. It is beautifully rewarding to facilitate powerful lessons that clients gain through the coaching process. One of my teachers called coaching ‘divine conversation’. I agree with him – it is a blend of practical questions coupled with those out of the box thinking kinds of questions that provoke new insights, coherences, and possibilities that make it most gratifying.

What has been the most difficult aspects of coaching?
Coaches must be the qualities we profess –for example, to be self-aware, continuously learning and growing, and push the edges of our own development. I wouldn’t say this is difficult, but I pride myself in being a high achiever, and I sometimes lack down time to just play, relax, and shift my own coherence.

What advice do you have for people who are looking to earn a ACC, PCC, or MCC through ICF?
Study, practice, and ask for help, then study and practice more. There is an exponential difference between the skills of a PCC and an MCC. It is difficult to elevate to the level of MCC without mentoring from an MCC assessor who is experienced at evaluating the demonstrated skills. If one wants to achieve MCC, she or he should record their coaching sessions, and ask the MCC assessor to critique it and offer specific feedback about the strengths and shortcomings of the recording.

Next, be clear as to why you want to have a credential. Do you want to continually learn? Do you want to teach? Do you want to belong to ICF? Is coaching going to be your primary career focus, or will you be consulting as well? If an ACC is enough to give you the credentials you need, then great. If not, then pursue either the PCC or MCC level of credential.

Once you know why, then you can identify how you will earn your credential. What schools align with your values? How much can you invest in terms of time and money? What kind of coach do you want to be? There are several categories such as coaches for career, executive, life, etc.

As with most things in life, self-knowledge is the key. Once you know what you want to do and who you want to be, it becomes much easier to sort through all the options and choose the one right one for you.

Download "Get Credentialed" infographic.

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