Life Coach

The Life of a Life Coach
by Karen Tweedie


According to the recent “ICF Global Coaching Client Study,” sponsored by the International Coach Federation (ICF) and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Association Resource Partners, over 96 percent of coaching clients would repeat their coaching experience again.

This is no surprise to the ICF, which has seen an explosion in its membership of professional coaches since its creation in 1995. Membership has grown from roughly 2,000 members focused mainly throughout North America in the late 90’s to over 16,000 members in more than 90 countries. This increase paints a picture of the growth for the coaching profession at large, as a growing number of individuals around the world learn that coaching works.

“The profession continues to blossom as more and more people see and experience how professional coaching can assist in maximizing personal and professional potential,” said Karen Tweedie, the 2009 ICF President. “We estimate that the profession is at least a $1.5 billion industry. Coaching helps individuals at all levels of an organization from shop floor to Csuite. People partner with a coach when they are looking to reestablish work-life balance, improve wellness, or have identified stretching goals that need to be realized through higher levels of leadership and teamwork.”

Coaching has grown at the rate it has for many reasons. With businesses facing a struggling economy, a shift in workforce, and globalization, coaching has proven to be a useful tool for those looking for ways to meet these and other such challenges with success.

If you choose to work with a coach, you will first create a coaching agenda based on personal goals. From there, you
will work with your coach through various assessments and observations. Unlike counseling or therapy, coaching is a distinct service that focuses on an individual’s life as it relates to setting goals, outcome creation, and personal change management. It is future-oriented and allows an individual to truly expand their capacities, self-awareness, and skills.

What to Look for in a Coach
If you are interested in an ongoing partnership that will help you produce fulfilling results in both your personal and professional lives, coaching is for you. Professional coaches help people improve their performance and enhance the quality of their lives.

According to the “ICF Global Coaching Client Study,” clients most often reported working with coaches who practiced
the following three coaching specialties:

Life Vision & Enhancement (54%);
Business/Organizational (34.8%); and
Leadership (31%)

Coach hiring suggestions:
Educate yourself about coaching. Thousands of articles have been written about the practice in the last several years.

Clearly outline your objectives so both parties understand the desired outcome.

Interview at least three coaches before you decide on one. Ask them about their experience, qualifications, skills, and ask for at least two references.

Remember that coaching is an important relationship. There should be a connection between you and the coach that
“feels” right to you.

As coaching is a self-regulated profession, some individuals may call themselves a coach even though they may lack
formal coach specific training. It is strongly encouraged to choose a coach who holds an ICF credential. ICF credential holders have received professional training from a program that was specifically designed to teach coaching skills under the umbrella of the ICF competencies and code of ethics; have demonstrated an understanding and use of the ICF coaching competencies; and are accountable to the ethics and standards set by the ICF.

Globally, more than 76 percent of clients who participated in the “ICF Global Coaching Client Study” reported that
when selecting a coach, credentials and/or certifications played a somewhat to very important part in their selection process.

To find an ICF-credentialed coach, visit the complimentary Coach Referral Service (CRS), a searchable database of coaches who hold an ICF Credential, accessible from

Ready for Another Career?
Anyone with a passion to help others can become a coach; people from all backgrounds and professions are coaches today. If you have decided this is the career path for you, there are three steps recommended to becoming a professional coach.

First, it is important to be trained in coach-specific skills. This training will distinguish you from the rest and make you a professional. ICF Approved Coach Training Programs assist aspiring coaches in developing their coach specific knowledge. Programs accredited by the ICF can be found all over the world, and many offer learning programs through the Internet or telephone. For assistance in searching for a training program, the ICF offers a Training Program Search Service, accessible from This service is a free searchable directory of all ICF-accredited programs.

Secondly, those who want to become a coach should be coached themselves. This is important because it will allow you an opportunity to witness coaching first hand and will allow you to see exactly what coaching is and how it is done.

And lastly, the ICF strongly encourages coaches to earn an ICF credential. The credential offers credibility and validity to you as a professional coach. As coaching grows, the importance of holding a credential increases as well; consumers are increasingly expecting their coaches to be credentialed. The credential is an investment in your future as a coach that will continue to pay off for years to come. More information about each and the online application are available at

73 percent reported a positive change in their work-life balance
68.2 percent reported a positive change in their wellness
61.8 percent reported a positive change in their time management
Source: “ICF Global Coaching Client Study”

Karen Tweedie is the current president of the International Coach Federation and has 16 years of successful experience in Life coaching.