All About Coaching

What to consider when looking for a coach and what is the difference between coaching and consulting? A guest commentary by the president past of ICF Germany, Dr. Geertje Tutschka

The German Chapter of the largest professional association for Coaches has just awarded the Prism Award for HR Excellence in building extraordinary Coaching Programs for Adidas and Vodafone. A special prize also went to Volkswagen for offering various coaching programs throughout the company for almost a quarter of a century.

What all the applicants had in common, was that they were personally committed to the power of coaching, especially in change processes and the implementation of crucial strategic goals in the company, but also to the programmes and their sustainability and quality.

Why is Coaching So Important?

It is present everywhere today and the market is flooded with offers that advertise “coaching”: The Business Coach competes with the online coach’s AI, the homework coach with the Chef Coach, the Cat Coach with the Garden Coach, the Style Coach with the Vocal Coach… The list goes on. Coaching is a buzzword, which apparently “sells” itself.

But who is actually allowed to coach or call themselves a coach? And why is it so powerful?

In fact, the profession and the concept of coaching is not (yet) protected in Germany: The German legislator only becomes active when there is a justified interest or “danger to life and limb “. This makes sense: The profession of a lawyer or physician has at some point become a state-recognised and regulated profession in contrast to the general consulting profession. The training and the conclusion of the nationally recognized training, the national conclusion and the permission, as well as the conclusion of a professional liability insurance, aim to protect the consumer against the damage.

Coaching vs Consulting

Coaching has developed as a special method over 50 years ago from the still quite recent psychology: with special communication tools such as W-questions, mirroring and feedback, as well as goal setting. The coach should support the coachee and help he or she with their personal development.

It is important to separate coaching from other formats and methods, such as training or consulting. If it seems to not work efficiently, the question would be if the alleged coach received a proper training and is qualified. The relationship between the coach and coachee is a matter of trust:

– the coachee supposedly goes into expert hands

– the coachee confides in the coach

– the coachee provides personal data

Coaching Principles

Reality shows us, that many “wannabe coaches” are not aware of this sensitivity. There are three principles that are essential:

  • the coachee has to be mentally healthy and under no medical influence
  • there is no processing of the past
  • no advice or objectives are given by the coach.

For more than 20 years professional associations, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF) have been working for coaches worldwide to ensure that coaching is linked to certain quality requirements and is based on ethical guidelines. For this purpose, the ICF Germany has joined forces in Germany with other professional associations for psychologists, therapists, supervisors, trainers and mentors in the so-called “Round Table Coaching” and ratified these international quality standards, including the ethics guidelines.

What is Quality Coaching:

Quality coaching must:

  • Be performed/conducted/carried out by a coach who is trained in coaching
  • Have an accredited curriculum of the training by a professional association
  • Have a coach, who is committed to the ethical guidelines of his or her association or make his or her own basis of the contract
  • Have a coach, who should strive for a certification, which should be renewed regularly, e.g. the ACC, PCC, MCC of the ICF (which additionally requires a practical examination as well as some practical experience)
  • Have a coach, who should provide evidence of his annual further training
  • Have a coach, who should have field expertise in the professional field of the coachee, as well as have completed his own personality development (recommended age: over 35 years old)
  • Have a coach, who should pay attention and point out the transparent and strict separation of coaching and other methods such as therapy, workshop, counselling, mentoring

The excellent programs have been consistently based on these quality standards for years and have achieved great successes, such as Adidas, with almost 100% satisfaction feedback guarantee. Coaching is therefore seen as an important economic factor in this field.

What Does It Mean for You?

Invest in yourself with high-quality coaching and experience the power: ask the coach about his or her coach-specific training and certification, about the ethical standards he or she is following and his or her experience in this field. The difference between a qualified coach and any consultant? The first will provide you with the essential information automatically based on their professional standards. The latter will just give you some advice based on their own experience.

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