Business, life and executive coaching is bang on trend this year and considered one of the best ways through which productivity in personal and professional life can develop. Once seen as a potential embarrassment, hiring a coach in 2017 suggests career status, highlights commitment and extracts maximum potential from both staff and higher level employees. Patricia Cullen delves deep into the world of Executive Coaching.

With roots in the sporting world and integrating influences from adult education, psychology and management, coaching is now typical in many successful medium to large sized organisations, and is a growing industry across many sectors. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011, advises business leaders to invest in a coach and former Intuit CEO Steve Bennett remains convinced that coaches are crucial to ongoing professional development. Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have all reported using coaches to identify their strengths, and, more importantly, to recognise and avoid the habits that sabotage them. More and more people are looking to professional coaching to help distinguish how they can be the best versions of themselves, allowing them to excel, both personally and professionally. In the last decade the coaching industry has exploded, but just how effective is it?

Though the precise impact of coaching is difficult to quantify, the ICF Global Coaching Client Study indicates that 86% of companies say they at least made their investment back, with 19% seeing a ROI of 50 times their costs and 28% acknowledging a ROI of 10 to 49 times their investment. More and more businesses are looking to instil a strong coaching culture that impacts not only the organisation, but also the personal lives of its employees, and the rising buoyancy in the economy, alongside the growing numbers of overstretched managers with increasing stress levels, has led to a surge in the number of corporations investing in executive and leadership coaching. Though time and money were the traditional hurdles to coaching investment, budgets are now specifically set aside and earmarked for developing high potential leading senior executives, aiding the continuous evolution of business practice.

coaching A culture of coaching also helps staff to reach new ambitions, teams to realise better synergy and corporations to accelerate overall productivity. Executive coaching has become one of the tools to achieve effective leadership in today’s fluctuating corporate culture. Modern managers and directors recognise that those companies that don’t take the time to reflect on, and learn from, past successes and failures, lose their competitive edge, and in recent years the focus has shifted to encourage learning and development throughout the workforce. This transformative thinking has allowed businesses to thrive in the European market and has also seen a growing need for qualified coaches to provide the skills and support necessary to gain full value from this business savvy resource.

There are approximately 53,300 professional coach practitioners worldwide and Western Europe accounts for the largest share (35%) with the UK and Germany comprising of approximately 70% of all business coaches on the continent. Helping to improve confidence, communication and create vitality in the workforce alongside assisting in big career changes, start businesses and develop confidence, coaching has become a sought after service and therefore a popular career choice for many. The European network for professional coaches is going from strength to strength and as the coaching industry isn’t currently regulated, many coaches are integrating coaching skills into their current role. However, it is vital to get the correct accreditation to gain an edge in this prosperous, but very competitive landscape, and the coaching infrastructure in Europe is sound and reputable. The three main UK professional bodies are the Association for Coaching UK, The European Mentoring Coaching Council, and the International Coach Federation. It has become obvious that credibility is important to coach practitioners, and an estimated 89% of coach practitioners attend accredited or approved coach-specific training, typically making greater annual revenue from coaching than their credential-less counterparts.

There are hundreds of programmes to choose from, and anyone serious about starting or sustaining a coaching business should follow an ICF Credential and become part of this valued group. To be a successful business or life coach in 2017, not only do you have to work well with people, you need to get certified.  The ICF has established rigorous standards that all schools must adhere to in order to receive this prestigious accreditation. The benefits of being part of the ICF network is simple – community and credentials. The ICF community has never been stronger, and the opportunities available to its members have never been better. Connecting, and networking with other coaches encourages sharing of information and knowledge, opening up further career prospects. Programmes like the Accredited Coach Training Programs, offer different areas of specialty, are readily available in Europe. Each coach graduates with their own coaching niche, choosing to specialise in Leadership Coaching, Business Coaching, Transformational Coaching, Systemic Relationship Coaching, Success Coaching, Coaching for Coaches or Life Coaching. The accessibility of this distinguished accreditation points to an increasingly professional, rigorous and evidence-based industry.

The ICF has over 25,000 members in 130 countries, with membership almost tripling in the last ten years, and adding 2,000 new members annually, it allows coaches to share local and global perspectives. In addition to adhering to the stringent ICF Code of Ethics, all ICF members must complete at least 60 hours of coach-specific training that meets rigorous standards. As a result, clients can have confidence that ICF member coaches are well-trained, well-prepared and well-versed to offer their services. It offers a free searchable directory of ICF-credentialed coach members, the Credentialed Coach Finder to help businesses find the right coach for them. Providing independent certification and a worldwide network of credentialed coaches, the ICF is the first port of call for any individual or business looking for a coach and for those looking to become one.

Albert Einstein once said: ‘Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.’ These words can ring true for those who currently feel trapped, need a fresh perspective or for those that are not getting the results they want. Coaching will teach transformative techniques that empower individuals to generate sustainable change.

Coaching, as a profession and a service is gaining global importance, and while it may be advanced in Europe, there is still a lot to be done. Stand still, and you will soon be left behind.