Center for Coaching Certification

The Paradigm Shift

In coach training, many of the people in the program come with education and experience – a very impressive group each time!  The paradigm in which they have functioned throughout their career is to be the expert and be the “go to” person who knows what to do and how to do it. The Paradigm Shift

At the start of the class, we discuss being a SME, Subject Matter Expert, or being a PE, Process Expert.  Ironically, when a client hires a coach the top two considerations, according to the Harvard Business Review, are experience in a similar setting and a model or process.  The interesting nuance is that experience in a similar setting is less about expertise and more about understanding.  At the same time, according to ICF research, the number one indicator of success in a coaching relationship is the rapport between the coach and the client.

For a coach, there is a responsibility to be a process expert.  This involves learning the coaching competencies, ethics, and the process for coaching conversations.

Being a SME is a pro/con question.  On the pro side, the coach understands the client’s circumstances.  When applied correctly, the expertise informs coaching questions.  On the con side, SME may mean the coach falls into the trap of being an advisor, consultant, guru, or mentor which is on the unethical side of coaching.  If a coach is not a subject matter expert, they stay in the place of being open and curious.  If a coach is a subject matter expert, they must work to keep their ideas and opinions out of the way and only use their knowledge to ask truly open questions to the client finds their own solutions.

The paradigm shift is away from thinking it helps to give answers to a place of realizing that it is more helpful to partner with others, so they find their own answers.


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What if someone with no training identifies themselves as a professional coach?

Start by assuming positive intent.  Then invite them to explore ICF’s website and to research the profession.  Discuss the Core Competencies and the Code of Ethics.

Be aware of the reality is that an untrained coach can cause harm by inadvertently moving into unethical spaces including therapy because they do not know what they do not know.  Surveys in the profession consistently tell us that untrained or under-trained coaches are seen as the number one threat to the profession. What if someone with no training identifies themselves as a professional coach?

Consider what happens when someone who is untrained identifies themselves as a professional coach with these questions:

  • What is the impact on clients of untrained coaches?
  • What is the probability that an untrained coach is serving as an advisor, mentor, guru, or consultant?
  • If we simply accept anyone and everyone calling themselves a coach, what is the impact on the profession as a whole?
  • If a professional in a different field was asked whether they think their training and ethics make a difference, what is their response?
  • If someone called themselves a professional accountant, masseuse, personal trainer, or a nutrition expert without training or accountability to ethics, what is the reaction?
  • Who is willing to knowingly hire an attorney, therapist, financial planner, or other professional when they have no training or ethics?

The ICF Code of Ethics tells us in number 22: “Communicate and create awareness with those who need to be informed of the ethical responsibilities established by this Code.”

As will all professions, becoming a coach is a journey that includes training in the competencies and ethics plus gaining experience.  If someone chooses not to complete coach training, then it is best they identify themselves accurately – whether as a consultant, a mentor, or other service provider.


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S.M.A.R.T. Goals

The acronym for S.M.A.R.T. goals was coined in 1981 by a consultant named George T. S.M.A.R.T. GoalsDoran.  The original definition was:

  • Specific: target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable: specify who will do it.
  • Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
  • Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.

Later on, it was expanded to  S.M.A.R.T.E.R. with two more things:

  • Evaluated: appraisal of a goal to assess the extent to which it has been achieved.
  • Reviewed: reflection and adjustment of your approach or behavior to reach a goal.

A common version today is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

The challenge with this version is that someone has to make a judgement call for Achievable and Realistic.

A preferred current version for use by individuals is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Relevant
  • Time-related

The differences here are Actionable – meaning action can be taken, and Relevant – referring to it having meaning, importance, and value.

Which version someone uses may be based on preference or it may simply be the only version they had heard.  This makes for a rich discussion during coaching certification.

When completing coach training, we learn that it is important client set goals based on what they do want, their internal motivation (which is where Relevant comes in), and that they are pro-actively moving toward it (Actionable).

S.M.A.R.T. goals are naturally empowering.


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Who Takes Notes?

A common question in coach training is: During a coaching session, who takes the notes?  The coach?  The client?  No one?  Both?  The answers to this include all these options.  Some say no notes – this protects confidentiality and means the coach and client both stay completely focused.  Some say yes to notes to keep track of information, insights, goals, and successes.  Some say the client takes the notes because it is their information, and the work belongs to them.  Some say the coach takes the notes so the client can do the work and think and plan.  Some say both – each noting what they think is important to note. Who Takes Notes?

The next questions become: Where are the notes kept?  How are they shared?  The ICF Ethics Interpretive Statements say:

ICF Professionals should make sure that their documentation of the coaching process is protected to safeguard confidentiality and in compliance with the relevant data protection rules. This applies in particular to the use of digital media and means of communication. They should make sure that they have an expert lawyer in their reach to consult on the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) for working in the EU.

The ICF Professional should keep in mind that notes, messages, text messages kept on a company-owned computer, company-accessible platform, company-owned email or company-owned mobile phone are the property of the company and is therefore, not confidential. Unless otherwise determined in the coaching agreement, internally employed or contracted coaches should be particularly aware that IT resources and equipment that are owned by the organization, may give them (the organization) full rights to access information and communications that were assumed private.

This means that if the coach takes notes, it is done on their privately owned device, kept secure and protected, and if they are shared with the client the coach and client discuss the confidentiality of how they are shared.

An additional point that is discussed during coaching certification is agreeing how long notes are kept.  Generally, the timeline ranges from not keeping notes to up to 6 months after the last coaching session.


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Become a Coach vis-a-vis ICF Requirements at the Center for Coaching Certification

The first step on the journey to becoming a coach is the Certified Professional Coach program. From there, you move into the Certified Master Coach program.  People often ask how much time between these two classes. The options include the a-la-carte approach or an all-in-one credential cohort.  Some people take the Certified Professional Coach class and immediately move into the Certified Master Coach class. We do that in the Cohorts offered for earning a credential. There are others that have gaps in between the classes.  It is what makes sense for your time and budget as well as your objectives or goals as a coach.Become a Coach vis-a-vis ICF Requirements

When you have completed the Certified Professional Coach and Certified Master Coach programs, you qualify for membership in the ICF and are able to join.  Beyond ICF membership, you choose: do you want the ACC path or the PCC path?

If you’re going for the ACC credential, the next step is building up your experience.  When you’re close to about half the hours required, you also begin the Mentor Coaching.  Mentor Coaching must extend beyond three months.  The Mentor Coaching program we offer is intentionally designed to meet all the ICF requirements and to support you effectively as you move toward a credential.   During mentor coaching, we are supporting you while you record yourself coaching and reviewing those recordings.  The goal is that both you and the mentor coach are confident your recording is going to pass assessment with the ICF.  When you have the training, experience, mentor coaching, and recording complete, you’ll submit to the ICF.  Before they invite you to take the CKA exam, ICF will verify your training.  They may or may not audit you on your coaching experience.  Be sure you have a coaching log and if they ask for it, you submit it, and they’ll contact your clients and verify. If they don’t audit you just have the log because you’re attesting to having a log.  ICF will verify the mentor coaching hours as well. The recording you submit will be assessed and must pass at the ACC level. When that is completed, ICF will invite you to take the exam. Successfully completing the noted requirements is how you earn the ACC credential.

Alternatively, you may decide to focus on to the PCC credential. As a note, some people complete the Professional Coach and the Master Coach programs, and then continue to the PCC credential. (The ACC credential is not required to earn the PCC credential.) You have a choice.

To earn the PCC credential, the ICF requires 125 hours of training, 500 hours of experience as a coach, mentor coaching, two recordings of yourself coaching at the PCC level, and passing the CKA exam.  In addition to the Certified Professional Coach and the Certified Master Coach, there are two additional training programs to complete the required training hours, the Certified Coach Specialist program and the Coaching Experience class.  These programs are offered in the ACC to PCC Cohort and are part of the PCC Cohort.

If you did mentor coaching to earn your ACC credential, you are required to repeat the mentor coaching for your PCC credential.  If you simply go from the Certified Professional Coach to the Certified Master Coach to the ACC to PCC cohort, the mentor coaching will cover the ICF requirement.  The Mentor Coaching is included in the PCC Cohort.  During mentor coaching, you are working on having two recordings of yourself coaching, as required for the PCC credential. When you complete the training, experience, mentor coaching, and have the recordings, you will submit all of these to ICF.  They will do their verifications. If you haven’t already taken the CKA exam, you’ll be invited to take it then. This is how you earn your PCC credential.

A note: be sure you obtain client permission and begin logging your coaching experience after the first day of your coach training because ICF will only accept hours that were completed after you started your coach training.

When you are on this journey for becoming a coach, enjoy the process. It’s such an amazing learning opportunity and it truly supports you being the best possible coach you can be.


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The ICF Journey to Become a Coach

The journey to becoming a coach is ideally focused on earning membership and then a credential with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).  At the Center for Coaching Certification this starts with the Certified Professional Coach (CPC) program. This program gives you 30 hours of coach training. To become a member of the ICF requires 60 hours of training so the next step is the Certified Master Coach (CMC) program for an additional 35 hours.The ICF Journey to Become a Coach

Let’s explore an analogy for this journey: completing your Certified Professional Coach program is much like saying you went to high school to become a coach.  When you complete the Certified Master Coach program, that’s much like saying you earned your two-year associate degree. When you continue and earn the ACC credential it is much like saying you received your bachelor’s degree.

Earning the ACC credential calls for having 60 hours of coach training, 100 hours of experience as a coach, working with a mentor coach, submitting a recording of yourself coaching to the ICF to be assessed as passing at the ACC level, and passing the coach knowledge assessment (CKA). When you complete everything successfully, you earn the ACC credential.

Continuing on to earn your PCC credential is much like saying you received a master’s degree.  Earning the PCC credential calls for 125 hours of training, 500 hours of experience as a coach, 10 hours of mentor coaching, two recordings of yourself coaching at the PCC level, and the exam. If you took the exam at the ACC level, you do not have to repeat it at the PCC level.

The training hours and coaching hours are cumulative moving from one credential to the next.  The exam is only taken once.  If mentor coaching is used for the ACC credential then it is repeated at the PCC level.

Think of ICF membership as the minimum gold standard for putting yourself out there professionally as a coach.  At Center for Coaching Certification, people ask: “after I complete the Certified Professional Coach program, can I start coaching?”  The answer is yes, you can technically start whether or not you’ve had any training. We do encourage you to start coaching, use what you learned in class, and continue so that if you’re putting yourself out there as a coach, you earn membership in the ICF.


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Remote Workers: Recruiting and Hiring the Best, Part 3

Remote Workers: Recruiting and Hiring the Best, Part 3

By Wendy A.

Today’s blog is the conclusion to the 3-part series on Remote Workers. Remote Workers- Recruiting and Hiring the Best

Additional tips for remote hiring:

Data Privacy

Ensuring data privacy, even at the hiring level, is vital when dealing with the digital world. Once you introduce your company to remote work, you are potentially exposing confidential information to the world. And a significant increase in the digital workforce puts data at risk, says DataInsider.

To lessen security risks, protect all data associated with your company, employees, and clients. Develop a comprehensive data policy, make use of security applications, and safeguard all business devices. Refrain from allowing the risks to reveal themselves; taking proactive measures makes all the difference.

Basic tools

When transitioning to remote operations, using the best tools can make the hiring process easier for everyone. Now that you’re aware of those hiring instruments, it’s time to prepare some other basic ones. Confirm you have a secure and reliable internet connection, a working headset with a microphone, a web camera, and a quiet environment. Catch these critical details so that the interview and hiring experience is as smooth as possible.


As more and more businesses transition to work-from-home situations, it’s crucial to address the recruitment process. Hiring managers and recruiters must strategize to benefit the firm and stay competitive. With the tips mentioned above, you’ll have all the tools to create a successful hiring process for your company.

We hope you enjoyed this 3-part series on Remote Workers.  Feel free to leave any comments you have on this great topic and please check us out at


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Remote Workers: Recruiting and Hiring the Best, Part 2

Remote Workers: Recruiting and Hiring the Best, Part 2

By Wendy A.

Welcome everyone! Today’s blog is part 2 of a 3-part series. Remote Workers- Recruiting and Hiring the Best

Use a shortlisting process

Getting a couple of promising resumes can indicate a quick selection. A practice that boosts your efficiency more is using a shortlisting process. This process allows you to identify top-notch candidates and quickly progress to the interview.

A shortlisting process is more effective when you’ve already narrowed in on essential applicant criteria. You can create a scoring or check system that helps you rank experience and skills. As part of the process, you can also employ pre-employment assessments that will only advance those best-suited for the role.

Consider multiple online platforms

Do not rely solely on a single tool for selecting applicants. Widen your perspective. Job hiring platforms such as allow you to hire from a large pool of remote workers. You can also use the professional networking site LinkedIn. When it’s time to schedule an interview, you can choose various tools like Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, FaceTime, and even phone interviews.

Your recruitment process determines the parameters of your hiring options. There are a lot of available platforms and tools at your fingertips. Broadening your reach and capabilities broadens the applicant pool from which you can choose. Do some research to familiarize yourself with some commonly used tools and techniques to maximize your hiring efforts.

Communicate with candidates

Practice proper etiquette when recruiting or hiring employees for your company. Remember, you are carrying the name of your business, and through hiring, people have heard about your work. Thus, if an individual fails to pass any part of the selection process, tell them.

No one wants to find out they missed out on a job opportunity from a secondary source. You can control the narrative by being honest and timely with your applicant pool. Avoid rumors and gossip negatively affecting your business. By keeping your candidates informed of their progress, you help strengthen your company’s reputation.

Our next blog is part 3 of this blog series. Hope you check us out at


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Remote Workers: Recruiting and Hiring the Best, Part 1

By Wendy A.

Hi everyone! Today’s blog is the first of 3 blogs on this great topic. Remote Workers- Recruiting and Hiring the Best

The pandemic has put many lives on hold. Some lost jobs while others began working from home. The coronavirus changed how people live and how businesses strive. More and more companies today are moving towards digital operations, and remote work is nearly a guarantee for new hires.

Working from home is now the new norm, and most services require a digital option. Business leaders are finding and adjusting to new digital recruitment and hiring methods. Most are still new to this venture, so how will they recruit and hire talent for their remote team?

If you are hiring remote workers, here are tips to help:

Consider an Applicant Tracking System

Remote hiring can be taxing once you start receiving multiple applications. And once your job opening gets attention, you’ll find yourself drowning in thousands of resumes. An ATS or applicant tracking system helps you sift through the documents to uncover the top contender for the job.

An ATS is a software application that collects and sorts resumes based on keywords. The application scans documents for pre-selected keywords that best fit a position’s requirements and a company’s vision. Using an ATS for your application process ensures you’ll get to the best applicants with the right qualifications more quickly. The system passes you the best ATS-friendly resumes and the best candidates. It saves you time and gets the job done.

Get the job description right

An integral part of the hiring process is creating a well-written job description. An organized job description creates understanding between the company and applicants about the company’s expectations. According to FlexJobs, a good job description includes

  • Concise, exciting wording
  • A clear title
  • Inclusive language
  • All key job requirements

For remote workers, you’ll include details about the working format. With remote-work-related keywords, your job opening is easily found by those desiring such a position. Be specific about your company’s location so applicants know upfront about potential taxes or state requirements. Make sure you clearly define words like “flexible” and “remote” concerning your specific posting. Avoid leaving applicants in the dark about what you’re seeking and offering.

Our next blog is part 2, Remote Workers: Recruiting and Hiring the Best. Be sure to check us out at for mor information on our many great programs.


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The Art of Preparing

by Beth Donovan – Donovan

In coaching, we take time with our clients to dance in a creative moment together as partners.  No step is choreographed, and the dance is art. 

Preparing for coaching sessions is like preparing to write.  I love writing poetry because for a few minutes I am immersed in the creative world of that moment of expression.  I am taking emotions and making them into art.

For coaching, I want to feel like I am in that creative space.  I light candles, spray the room with essential oil mist, play soft spa music or nature sounds, and get into the present moment by being and feeling.

My clients are encouraged to be in a space where they are open, ready, and free to express.  What and where they do to prepare is up to them.

This preparation on both of our parts helps us to come together in the coaching sessions grounded and in the present moment.  We are mindful.  This is a fabulous space for a coach to listen actively and for the client to express.  

For that time you are with the client, as in writing poetry, you are creating art with emotion and the exploration of being and doing.  Enjoy the process.


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