“So you need to find an executive coach.” That’s what the first episode of The Coaching Question was about but on listening again I wanted to add a few things.

I wanted to give some data also as to how people find coaches. This research comes from the 2019 Sherpa Coaching Executive Coaching Survey report 2019, which shows us that globally, people find coaches through ‘personal references’ a vast majority of the time. They also use web searches, trade associations or professional bodies, service brokers and LinkedIn.

2019 Sherpa Coaching Executive Coaching Survey report 2019

Personal references are used 9x more often than any other method. Sherpa has seen very little change in this area in recent years. Basically, people are asking others for someone they trust and this isn’t surprising.

‘Brokers’ only account for 2% but I wanted to give a shout out to the Trusted Coach Directory. One of the reasons I’m a founding member of this growing group is that the directory requires any member to be under regular supervision and to evidence their professional indemnity insurance.

I also wanted to sincerely apologise to the EMCC (The European Mentoring and Coaching Council) as I missed them out when I listed the main professional bodies active in the UK for coaching! I don’t know why but at the time I just had the ICF, Association for Coaching and APECS in mind.

I thought it might be worth saying some more about how APECS is different as we didn’t really into the difference between competency (all the others) and capability-based (APECS) frameworks for accreditation.

What should be made clear about APECS is that it is the Association for Professional Executive Coaching and Supervision. Executive Coaching differs from other forms of coaching in that it is primarily concerned with the development of the executive in the context of the needs of their organisation. Members are only focused on coaching executives and leadership teams, and then supervising those coaches. Since we’re working in organisations there are higher expectations in regard to knowledge and experience of businesses/organisations and how they operate.

Aside from evidencing ‘coaching craft’ which the competency-based frameworks really focus on, APECS also looks for two other things: (i) a really good understanding of psychology and adult development, and (ii) a real emphasis on supervision.

We make it clear in the podcast that supervision should be a critical qualifying factor in choosing a coach and I can’t emphasise how essential supervision is. A lot of this is down to the importance we place on professional and personal development. The focus a coach has on learning is critical in my opinion. Not only learning about the profession but learning about yourself, and supervision is essential in that journey to self-knowledge.

From what I can tell from the ICF website, supervision isn’t a requirement for their Professional or Master Certified Coach accreditations. The Association for Coaching and EMCC both require supervision to be in place as well as APECS which I’m very glad to see. The U.S. certainly seem to have lagged behind the UK in recognising the importance of supervision. Supervision as a topic is explored in its own podcast episode here.

So on a capability basis, the question is not whether or not a coach can reach a certain bar in regard to coaching skill, but can their capabilities add value to their clients and to the profession. They may happen to have some qualities or be doing something not included in any competency framework and it is exactly this added capability that we’re looking for. Not limiting ourselves by adhering only to a competency framework.

So yes, accreditation is a good thing to have on your list of criteria for a coach, but you also really need supervision to be on that list.

And the other thing I’d like to point you to is this little guide I’ve written which is designed to help anyone who needs to use coaching in their company or organisation. It’s got lots of case studies so you can learn form the experiences in there. You can download this for free here.