Choosing a Coaching Training Institute, Points that needs to be considered before you open your wallet. Part 1

A running commentary of my interaction with a potential coach

Over the past few months, I have had flurry of calls from individuals inquiring what it takes to be a coach and how to become one. After a few minutes of exploratory conversation around the intent, I allow the potential coaches to quiz me around becoming a coach.

The recent caller began by asking me, “What will it cost me to become a credentialed coach?”, I was intrigued by the question, I responded by asking him “Before I tell you the cost, I would like to ascertain that you are aware of what it takes to become a credentialed coach?”, the enthusiast said, “well I was looking at asking you to walk me through, and I began by asking the cost so that I can plan my financials”. I understood the concern and appreciated the need for the individual to plan his investments. At this juncture, I chose to ask the individual, how would you like to begin? The questions flowed.

Caller: Do you think ‘Coaching’ as a practice is good for me bank on?

Sai: Good question. However, could you clarify to me “what exactly are you looking at?”

Caller: I intend to change my career. Was wondering if coaching is well paying and therefore if I could invest my money and efforts to become a coach?

Sai: I hear you tell me 3 things, a change in career, a question if coaching is well paying, & therefore the decision that you want to make if you can invest in learning to become a coach. Would you confirm if I have understood what you are thinking about?

Caller: Yes, you have captured it sequentially. That’ s about it.

Sai: Okay, what do you want to start with?

Caller: Let’ s begin with the career change.

Sai: Great, may I ask you a few questions to begin with, before I get into my long monologue of what it takes to be a coach?

Caller: Sure, go ahead please.

Sai: Tell me, how did you think of coaching as a possible career change?

Caller: I was exploring. Someone told me that I can be a good coach. I work as a teacher and I love to help students. I go out to understand them, before I start to teach them what it takes for them to be successful? My parents and others tell me I am compassionate.

Sai: Thank you for sharing. I notice that you are not only compassionate, I also see you are passionate and enthusiastic about what you do?

Caller: Yes, yes, people tell me. I love what I do, I want to do more for the people that I am in touch with. And here I am talking with you.

Sai: Yes, you are. I hear you tell me that you love what you are doing, and now you are thinking of a career change?

Caller: Yes, I am.

Sai: Tell me more about the career change you are looking at? What’ s the trigger?

Caller: The trigger, I want to help not only students, but also my colleagues, and adults.

Sai: Ok. Help, in what way?

Caller: I am a budhist. I am committed to helping people live life to the fullest and effectively.

Sai: Interesting, your compassion for people is showing up. Tell me more about the use of the word effectively here?

Caller: By effectively, I meant that I want people to be successful in what they do and want to do, in a sense a kind of fulfilment. I hope I am getting across.

Sai: Yes, you are. I understand your passion. If I may say, your passion is to support your compassion of helping people. This in fact is the 1st requirement for a coach. You already have that driver operating for you.

Caller: I see, you are so understanding.

Sai: Tell me, how do you go about understanding what your students, or for that matter, others want?

Caller: I ask them. My parents tell me that I am good listener. I have always wanted to understand others, before I get to download on to them.

Sai: Nice, that’ s wonderful. You meet the second pre-requisite to become a coach.

Caller: Oh, I didn’t know that. So you are saying that being passionate & compassionate to people, & listening to people are pre-requisites.

Sai: Yes, it is.

Caller: What else?

Sai: Tell me, are you ready to run your own enterprise? Ready to attract clients to coach?

Caller: There are already people meeting me and asking me what I think about what they are stuck with or dealing with?

Sai: Nice to know you have people seeking you out. However, it is about making a practice that is paying.

Caller: Yeah, I need to make money to support some of my plans for the future. I have my parents to take care of, may be start a school, get married, run a family. A long way to go.

Sai: All the more reason for you to start looking at it as a business and run it. Which means, are you ready to market and sell, strategize your offerings, be committed to running your business. Remember you asked if it is well paying?

Caller: I will need to learn these.

Sai: Yes, you may have to. So, there are some part of it which you have and there are some parts of it which may have to acquire.

Caller: Yes, yes. I couldn’t agree less with you. You are making me think. I am excited.

Sai: Thank you. Moving ahead, do you love educating people about what you think, you experience, you do?

Caller: I am a teacher, I teach Science and English.

Sai: That is your profession. I am asking you about your drive to educate people around you about what you do?

Caller: They know I am a teacher. I sometimes engage with others on philosophy or preaching’ s from my religious practices.

Sai: Sometimes, not always.

Caller: Yeah, sometimes.

Sai: When you start a business of coaching, it’ s important for you to educate your nearest circle about your journey and allow it to pay it forward.

Caller: I never thought of it that way. Maybe I should.

Sai: From the conversation we have so far, I notice there are many attributes that you possess to become a coach. Coaching is a practice and a business. To be successful you will need not only learn to become a coach, you will also need to learn to attract paying coaching clients. Moreover, the becoming of a coach is a continuous journey.

Caller: I see. Tell me more about learning to become a coach?

Sai: Right, to become a coach the ICF® – International Coach Federation which is committed to advancing the science & art of coaching has enlisted coaching program service providers. These service providers offer programs recognized by ICF®. The approvals accorded are

  1. ACSTH – Approved Coach Specific Training Hours – these are programs that teach some parts, either in full or part, of Coaching Core Competencies & Ethics by the hours of training.
  2. ACTP – Accredited Coach Training Program – this is a start to finish program, and the highest level of approval accorded to a program, and the program teaches “ethical guidelines, professional standards, Core competencies, and its application in coaching engagement”. Besides, a graduate receives a minimum of 6 observed written feedback on their coaching behaviour with loads of coaching practice within the training content. Further the program also provides for mandated 10 hours of Mentor Coaching for the graduate. Not only these, the program provider tests your conceptual level understanding and skill prowess before certifying you as a coach.

Caller: Wow, that’ s a whole of things. Tell me what I should particularly remember, before choosing a program.

Sai: Good question. I know for an explorer ACSTH and ACTP could be overwhelming. I would recommend that you consider going over to Https:// website and reviewed what it takes to becomes a coach. However, I could respond to specific questions in the interest of time.

Caller: I understand. Tell me, how do I know a program is an ACSTH or ACTP? From what you described, ACTP seems to be the best.

Sai: I would recommend that you reviewed the ICF® website and looked up specifically for coach training programs and your preferred location. You will notice a list of ACSTH and ACTP service providers. The ones listed are institutes that meet ICF® periodic audit requirements and have a good standing.

Caller: Sure, I shall do that.

Sai: Right, just in case if this helps, when you go into ICF® website, click on “ICF Credential” followed by “Find Training” – this will lead you to “Training Program Search Service” (TPSS) page. Click on the dialogue box for your choice of certification program, location and language. The system will throw up a list of training service providers programs for you to choose from.

Caller: That’s so nice of you to have explained to me so nicely. In fact, you have been very nice to me.

Sai: Thank you. If it helps you to make decision. Right. So, we looked at what it takes to become a coach. Now, it is time to reiterate that becoming a coach is a journey. It will take you anywhere between 7 months or more to get a hang of coaching, and then it is to attract coaching clients to muster your coaching practice hours before you are ready to apply for ICF® credentials.

Caller: Yes, credentials. What are they?

Sai: ICF® offers 3 levels of credentials. Namely ACC – Associate Certified Coach. This is a practiced coach, who completed a coaching skills program, learning the nuances of coaching and certified to engage with a client 1on1, at best a beginner coach.

Caller: Ok, what are the other 2 levels.

Sai: The other 2 levels are PCC – Professional Certified Coach. This is a proven coach, who has advanced his learning and practice. The person has learned to coach clients at deeper level, is experienced, and has coached more than 25 clients and has over 500 hours of coaching experience. The person has completed 125 or more hours learning.

Caller: Ok

Sai: The final level of credentialing is MCC – Master Certified Coach. This is an expert coach, who has not only advanced his coaching skills but also greatly experienced and possesses mastery over the competence. The coach has coached over 35 clients for over 2500 hours and has undergone 200 hours or more of training.

Caller: That seems a lot. 500 hours seems probable.

Sai: Right. So, to summarize, a. you need to choose a training program that is offered at your location, b. it has to provide you the convenience of spacing your leaning, c. it has to be a program in good standing, meaning continuously audited by ICF® or fulfilling all ICF® expectations, d. the program must offer methodologies to test your conceptual level understanding, & demonstrated skills through internal assessors meeting ICF® established guidelines, e. the fee and choice of payment terms, & f. finally, the trainer and their credentials.

Caller: That’s great. I have a good understanding now. Let me to begin with go over the ICF® website, look up the TPSS, following which I shall revert to you for additional inputs or with a decision to move forward. Thank you so much. You have really nice to me.

Sai: Not at all. If you have found answers to your quest, I am happy.

Caller: Yes, very much, without any doubt.

I have chosen to articulate the entire interaction with a potential coaching student. It is important for students to make the right choice and informed decision. The economic investment to become a coach is huge, the efforts to become and be a coach is humongous. Remember, the training is only teaching you “Learning & Doing Coaching”, from there on it is up to the student / graduate to “Become” and “Be” a coach.

Please share your views, questions, feedback by replying to the blog.

Best wishes, and happy coach learning journey.

To be continued.


Hey Coach, are you a sitting duck?

You might like to read further, if you aren’t sure. In my view, most coaches, sure are sitting ducks for liability suits by coaching clients. For starters, examine how you refer to coaching meetings with your client. Do you unconsciously refer to it as a conversation or discussion?

Reviewing numerous articles and assessment tapes, the pattern that is emerging is that most coaches, either in their publications or coaching contact meetings have been referring to coaching sessions as either a conversation or discussion. You might wonder what’s the harm here when everyone calls it a conversation or discussion.

To begin with let me distinguish the 2 terms with the help of

When a coach asks a client, “what do you want to discuss with me today?” – the key word is ‘discuss’ and the dictionary defines the word as

Discuss “To consider or examine by argument, comment, etc.; talk over or write about, especially to explore 

solutions; debate:”

 When a coach asks a client “what do you want to converse with me today?” or “What do you want to take away at the end of conversation” – the key word is ‘converse / conversation’.


“To talk informally with another or others; exchange views, opinions, etc., by talking.”

 Reviewing the 2 definitions, coaching is neither a ‘Discussion’ nor ‘Conversation’.  In coaching, neither the coach nor the coachee are debating, or logically trying to influence one another or for that matter talking over to agree. The coach is a focused partner who listens to understand, raises questions out of curiosity to help the client maximize their personal and professional potential.

 On the other hand, the relationship is formal, contracted relationship unlike conversation which is an informal relationship with both the partners exchanging views, opinions.

 Imagine, an informed coachee whose learning style is predominantly auditory, records the coaching session with a view of reviewing it, following the session. The coachee notices your unconscious use of the term, either, ‘conversation or discussion’. The person after review infers that there aren’t logical view points being shared by the coach or for that matter there weren’t any informal sharing of views, ideas, opinions. Having experienced the coaching session, the person establishes the similarities between the recent past and other sessions, the coach invites the person to discuss or converse, and there is no discussion or conversation.

Ethically, does the person have a right to file a liability suit against the coach?

Going by the dictionary meaning, it is ethically right for the person / consumer to claim liability, provided the person proves short or under served by the coaching practitioner.

This would be a rude shock for many, especially when we unconsciously use words with a hope that others would give it the same meaning as we do. Remember, as a communicator it is your call to adapt your communication in relation to the audience.

So, the next time you utter the word ‘conversation or discussion’, check if you have played your role as a co-contributor to the agenda.

What should be coaching meeting referred to?

The best answer is ‘Session’.  Simply ask your coachee / client the next instant, ‘what do you want to talk about today?’, ‘what are you hopeful of achieving in today’s session?’, ‘what is the objective of today’s session?’, etc.

Watch what you say, don’t be a sitting duck. Be mindful.

Credentialing, a gateway to Credibility

imagesI would like to acknowledge the chapter leader of NHRD, Bangalore, who in his closing remarks of the monthly talk that featured ‘Coaching’ stated that people hiring coaches should not look for credentialed coaches rather that they should look for coaches who have proven ‘Credibility’. Now, that was quite a contrarian thought, which got me thinking; ‘was it worth the effort to travel the road that I had traveled to become a credentialed coach, particularly at a point of time when I am preparing to launch my ACTP workshops in the region & seeking coaching interns?’.

What’s on your mind? I think it is important for us to discern here, & establish ‘what is the meaning of credibility?’

I would tend to empathize with the opinion, particularly when we have many people who on their profile have flouted coaching as a skill set by managing quite a few endorsements for themselves as ‘coaches’. With coaching becoming a hot skill set and the awareness that the practice has attracted in our country, it is obvious that many would like to be known as coaches and attract practice to seek paying engagement.

To set the context, The Oxford dictionary defines credibility as ‘the quality of being believable or worthy of trust’. The key here is ‘believable’ & ‘worthy of trust’.

What would make a client seeking coaching, believe in their prospective coach’s ability & trust them with their issues?  

When a coach is seen ethical, competent and living coaching that arises from;

Ethics: Living the ethics. The ICF(R) ‘Ethical Guidelines’ states that the coach must clarify to the client the process, distinguish the process of coaching from other forms          of human development practice, the roles of the individuals involved in the      engagement, the boundaries, and the confidentiality. The coach must be seen living             these ethics in their practice.

Competencies: The client must experience the coach’s competence in an             engagement. Essentially the coach must aid the client in their thinking process so           that they are able to discern with their dilemma & identify alternative/solutions to         their issues at hand. Needless to say, a competent coach assists the client in             becoming aware of their potential and thereby live confidently.

Training: The ICF(R) Approved or Accredited coaching skills workshop hold the key. The aim of these training courses is to teach the intern ‘Ethical Guidelines’ & ‘Core Coaching Competencies’, besides facilitating ‘skill building’ such that the intern is          able to meaningfully engage with their clients in a client centred conversation. Unlike self study or conventional training workshops, ICF(R) Approved or Accredited coaching skills workshop follow a specific learning cycle, these workshops are structured to aid greater internalization of the coaching concepts (science) and translation of the concepts into skills (art) through observed sessions, mentoring cum supervision sessions, and reflection sessions. In a way the program is anchored in a rigour such that the student coach professionalizes in the practice.

In addition to these, the coach must also submit themselves to the process and be objective in the moment with their client rather than getting into the subjective experiences.

Reflecting on the above, one would notice that it is not easy to gain the client’s trust by merely having a coaching skills workshop certification. Trust in coaching is developed with the client through submission of oneself to the rigour of learning and practice besides application of learning. The shift happens only when the intern has learnt and continues to learn at every instant.

What is the difference between being a ‘certified coach’ Vs ‘credentialed coach’?

In the past I have been posed this question. The answer to the question lies in exploring the difference between the 2 forms of certification.

Certified Coach

Credentialed Coach

A certified coach may be a coach who has certified for having participated in a coaching skills training event offered by a training school which may or may not be  ICF(R) Approved or Accredited.

The training program may or may not be of a stipulated duration as recommended by ICF(R)

The coach engages in coaching practices based on some learning in the science and art of coaching.

The coach may or may not be competent in all the core coaching competencies.

The coach may or may not have been supervised & mentored

A credentialed coach is one who has been credentialed by a credentialing body based on the following:

  1. The person has undergone a stipulated number of hours of student contact learning training,
  2. Has acquired learning grounded in ‘Ethical Guidelines’ & ’11 Core Coaching Competencies’,
  3. Has complied with a minimum number of coaching & observed coaching hours during the learning event,
  4. Has coached clients for a minimum number of hours, maintained a log of coaching hours,
  5. Has entered into a signed coaching agreement with their client.
  6. Has been mentored & supervised for a minimum number of hours, &
  7. Has been referred by at least 2 existing practicing members.

The credentialed coach is a member of a larger community, such as ICF(R), IAC(R), AC(R), etc.


Thus you would see the difference between certified coach & credentialed coach.

Reviewing the above will go on to prove that credibility is established through credentialing, which is a rigorous process that is grounded in the development of art & science of coaching. The credentialed coach goes through a structured experiential learning process, which holds them in good stead while coaching a client. The benefits of choosing a credentialed coach over non credentialed coaches, could be experienced by the client as well.


For a credentialed coach, credibility is established through their qualification (training, practice, & testing). In this case it would be ACC, PCC, or MCC as awarded by the ICF(R) or IAC CC – CMC, MMC as awarded by the IAC. Both these bodies have clearly stipulated the competencies that coaching intern must master and demonstrate as a result of their learning and practice acquired over so many hours of coaching clients. The certification exams are objective and dispassionate; this ensures that quality expectations are met with. More than 1 assessor reviews the application and the coaching conversations, post that the intern is awarded the certification in the event of a pass. Thus the process followed by a coach, who has to withstand many storms, proves their credibility.

I conclude that a credentialed is credible. Credibility is further sustained through the rigor of coaching practice and the compliance of ethical guidelines as stipulated by the ICF.

Coaching, a child’s play

ChildChild’s play & Coaching must be intriguing to many. I was drawn by the behavioral attributes of the child and their spirit. Reflecting on it I was able to draw lot of linkages with coaching process and the competencies.

Most of you would have had some kind of concrete experience with toddlers. Reminiscing the past, most will be able to draw from their collective unconscious, the attributes displayed by the child. I have enumerated some of them below;

  1. Curiosity
  2. Inquisitiveness
  3. Inquiry
  4. Listening
  5. Trust
  6. Concrete Experience & Active Experimentation, etc

The child display’s these behaviors in their quest to explore, establish, understand, store and retrieve.

It has been said that ‘the child is the greatest teacher of the man’. The enthusiastic spirit of inquiry always has been a challenge to the adult supervising the child. In a the child uses ‘clean language’ in their attempt to explore and establish the being in the ecosystem. The adult when challenged often delves into reflection state, leading to either new learning or drawing from their collective unconscious. Coaching most often helps the client to draw solutions to their present dilemma from their collective unconscious.

The states that the noun “child’s play” has 2 senses;
1. any activity that is easy to do 
2. activity by children that is guided more by imagination than by fixed rules

The significance of child’s play talks about ‘ease’ and ‘imagination’. Can you draw any correlation to coaching here?

Well, in a coaching conversation the coach’s primary objective is to facilitate the client to believe in themselves & attain their goals with ease & grace. Ease is a result of limitless belief’s, which causes positive attitude and conviction  in self. The coach uses powerful questions which causes the client to imagine possibilities that in turn furthers the clients conviction leading to development of multiple alternatives to their current dilemma. Coaching thus employs methods with clients to cause ease and imagination to happen.

The behavioral attributes demonstrated by the child has direct correlations with the core coaching competencies;

1. Trust displayed by the child – Co-creating the relationship with the client. In the mind of the child, the person answering the question knows best. Likewise, in a coaching conversation the client not knows the story better but also what solution works best for them. 
2. Not knowing – Coaching presence. When the child asks the questions, the child is unaware of the existance of the concept. When the person responds with answers, the child stays focused and asks questions for greater clarity.
3. Being non judgmental & understanding the meaning of what is said – Active listening. The child listens without forming any bias or  evaluating what is being said. 
4. Seeking information for maximum benefit – Powerful questioning. The child listens and asks questions for greater clarity. 
5. Validating information through application – Direct communication. The child shares the experience based on the application of the information in its world. 
6. Insights – Creating Awareness. The child demonstrates awareness through its happiness, otherwise the concept was non-existent for it. 

Given the perspectives listed above, coaching can be a equated with child’s play.

Coaches must learn to invoke the spirit of child’s play from their collective unconscious to strengthen their coaching competencies and eliminate the judging devil inside oneself. Child’s play can result effective results for your clients.

Do share your thoughts, views, feelings, opinions in the comments.

Rgds – Sai

ADVanced Coach Training Workshop





Concept testing by coach interns through Dyadic interactions


Coaching practicum – fish bowl replicated in the training hall



Group Task – participants building concept prior to concept testing & skill building


Stand up presentation in a cluster




Video Assisted Coaching Session Group 1

Video Assisted Coaching Session Group 2

Video Assisted Coaching Session Group 3

The ADVanced Coach Training workshop is nearing completion and the 1st batch of enthusiastic coaches are preparing to log in their applications for PCC. What a wonderful feeling and moment of satisfaction.

Rgds – Sairamesh

ADVanced Coach Training Workshop

The Coach4Excellence Academy formally launched an ‘ADVanced Coach Training Workshop’ on the 25th of August 2012 at Bangalore. The workshop is spread over 4 months of 2 days contact sessions per month. During the intervening period the coach trainees get to practice to 4 weeks of peer to peer coaching as apart of the coaching group activity. The workshop teaches 70 hours of Core Coaching Competencies and 4.5 hours of other (adjunct) competencies. ADVanced coaching is about dealing at the cognitive levels, affective levels, behavior levels, emotional levels and being levels with the client.




The picture above presents a birds eye view of the training hall with the participants observing a ‘LIVE Coaching Conversation’.

The group has to its credit over 4000 hours of coaching experience and over 350 years of organization working experience. The diversity of this group is unique. The group had 7 credentialed coaches ACC’s, Psychotherapists, Social Psychologists, OD Specialists, Human Development Professionals from the field of L&D, Business Strategy consultants, Sales Management & Training, Sports coaching, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed facilitating this work and eagerly look forward to the next contact session.

I would like to acknowledge each one of the learning audience for their graciousness, inquisitiveness, experiences and beyond. It is these experiences that has bonded the group and the learning environment to a new high.

I realize I have miles to go in creating structured experiences for the thirsty audience before I can celebrate.

Rgds – Sai



To Coach Successfully, Contract Effectively

During the recent past in my coaching clinics, I have had my attendees ask me questions w r t successful coaching. When queried about the specifics, a common line of thread emerged. The single most hope, best hope, for the audience was to coach their clients successfully to results thereby keeping their clients delighted and seeking them repeatedly.

In view of the above, I had replicated some of the coaching situations in the clinic and observed them. Wow, the observations were insightful. Most of the audience tended to deal with the goal / outcome as stated by the client, without asking questions for refinement or for understanding clarity. Joseph O Connor & Andrea Lages in their book ‘Coaching with NLP’, Chris Iveson et al in their book ‘Brief Coaching – A solution focused approach’ have thrown significant light on the coaching goal/outcome statement and the need for the coach to make the outcome tight, which when accomplished will leave the client satisfied, happy, insightful, & look up to the coach.

In my view, to coach the client successfully it is imperative for the coach to contract effectively first. Yes contract effectively, meaning first explore the goal what the client wants accomplished through a dialogue – to explore alternative solutions to the problem statement, identify resources, develop a strategy, & a plan for implementation.  For instance, let me articulate and example of a client who came up with a problem statement

Coach: Hello client, what do you want to accomplish in this conversation today?

Client: Hello coach, I have a difficulty in giving feedback to team member who is perpetually late in task accomplishments.

Coach: Umm, what results do you want to achieve as a result of your feedback?

Client: I want to sensitize the member about the impact of his delay, how it impacts the moral of the team, I want him to understand that he cannot go on like this, he is being a bad influence on the team, I am having to face the music on account of short fall he is creating, it is bad, bad……

Coach: I can understand that. What about him is bad?

Client: It is his attitude to work.

Coach: So you would like to give him a feedback. What behaviour changes do you expect to achieve as a result of the feedback?

Client: I would like to see him more organized, reach out to me or others in the event of any difficulty, and be more open / supportive for the team’s cause.

Coach: So your desired outcome from this conversation today would be to establish an approach to feedback to the member so that the member remains focused on the job and delivers as per plan.

Client: Yes, that’s what I desire to achieve today with you.

Coach: Thanks client, I acknowledge you for having chosen me to coach you and bringing this wonderful topic for conversation today. (The conversation proceeds)

With this deeper level of understanding of the problem, the expected outcome for the client the coach can engage effectively in a focused, solution focused coaching conversation.

Notice the goal for the coaching conversation is clear. With clarity the coach will be able to proceed deeper & converse effectively with the client.

(Ps.note: the representative conversation listed above is not all inclusive)

Think through the above, notice how you could contract with your client effectively to coach them successfully. Do share your thoughts, opinions, questions in the comments column.

Best regards – Sai