Trends in Continuing Education: Becoming a Certified Coach

There are many choices when it comes to enhancing your career through education. Becoming a certified coach is one such new and growing option that has evolved into a discipline designed to build proficiency through modeling, practice, feedback, adjustment, and more practice.
To get a broad brush perspective on what it takes to become a coach, I spoke with two certified coaches from different backgrounds-one in legal marketing and the other in the arts.

Pamela H. Woldow is a principal with the legal consulting firm Altman Weil, Inc. and currently facilitates leadership development coaching to junior and senior partners in law firms and law departments, with an emphasis on client relations and business development. She earned her J.D. from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, but has also been designated a Certified Master Coach (CMC) by the Behavioral Coaching Institute (BCI).  
"Coaching involves asking a lot of questions and guiding the conversation without being overly direct," she said.  "This is an approach that seems to work well with lawyers. They feel comfortable in a coaching dialogue and it gets them to the point where they are asking and inviting me in," she said. Clients tell her that when you suspend making judgments it creates a feeling of safety and comfort. "You can market this skill as a holistic approach to guide attorneys on the journey to achieving their goals, and that is a compelling message," she said. 
Pam was certified by BCI, one of the first international professional coach training institutions specializing in executive coaching. BCI provides professionals with a fast-tracked course for obtaining certification through a four day program that is accredited through the International Coaching Council, of which Pam is also a member.
"If I were a marketing professional currently looking at career opportunities, I would want to have the coaching accreditation because it is a differentiator-it makes you stand out," according to Pam. 
Coaching lawyers and coaching dancers, or anyone else for that matter, is the same suggests Andrea Snyder, executive director of Dance/USA, the professional association for dancers. Andrea, who has a M.A. in Arts Management from New York University, believes that her coaching training and certifications have given her the skills and ability to coach anyone. 
Her training, a 6 month coaching training program coupled with another six months of learning with master coaches, "solidified my skills, knowledge and confidence in being a great coach," she said.  "You are the facilitator there to move the client in the direction they want to move," she said. "You are a personal cheerleader there to be with the client wherever they are and wherever they need to go. It is not therapy; it is a process of defining where a person is now and helping them move to where they want to go," she said.
Fundamental to being a great coach, she said is the ability to "listen and be connected to what the client is really saying."  Andrea called it "listening behind the words."
Andrea completed her coaching program at Coaches Training Institute (CTI), whose curriculum is accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC), and is in the process of receiving accreditation from ICF's Accredited Coach Training Program (ACTP).  
Pam's and Andrea's comments seem to capture a similar approach that incorporates less directing and more guiding.  The steps and discipline it takes to become a coach is basically the same if you are coaching lawyers, dancers or anyone.  I have come to the conclusion that everyone should have a coach and that it is a timely profession for anyone who wants to work with people in a meaningful way.
Raychiel Webb is business development and marketing manager at Bryan Cave LLP.

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