Becoming an ICF Accredited Coach

In 2012 I was fortunate enough to attend the Stephen Covey 7 habits of Highly Effective People course as part of my leadership development at Verizon. This was a pivotal moment for me in my career and my future. Little did I know that at the time.

It was facilitated by Brian Bailey our head of Leadership Development, who a few years before had introduced me to StrengthsFinder 2.0 Note at this point I had read it and put it in a drawer like so many others. I realized early on in the course (habit 2) Start With The End in Mind, where we were talking about our goals and our mission and purpose, that my mission was not to be an IT sales person for the rest of my life.

We were exploring questions like :

I am at my best when…

I am at my worst when….

What do I really love to do at work?

Possible life goals for me are….

I want to be a person who…..

As I came up with my own mission statement, I realised I love helping other people.  It was at that point that I asked Brian if he might become my mentor, I felt I wanted to do what he did, training, coaching, and helping others discover the answers to these types of questions.   His suggestion to me was to look at some formal qualifications in Coaching and Facilitation.  I went away and did some research and landed on a training program with the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership and I signed up for their level one 3-day course.

I remember walking into the course thinking I was already a coach, I liked mentoring others and give my piece of advice.  We did an activity within the first 3 mins of the course where you had to line up and on a scale of one to 10 place yourself on that line where you felt you set.  I confidently gave myself a 6, I was not a novice but I knew and had more to learn.  What I came to realise in the duration of that program was that I was not a coach. I, in the past, may have been a mentor.  I should have put myself more as a 1 or 2 in that first 30 mins.  I would say everybody in the program did the same thing.  This ICF accredited program really opened our eyes to what coaching was and how much harder it was than we thought.

I look back often at the materials and remind myself how much we covered and this was just the entry level

  • ICF Framework
  • The Skills of an Organisational coach
  • Core Competencies
  • Distinction between coaching and other roles
  • Our Mindset and Beliefs
  • Questions
  • Introduction to the GROW (Goal, Reality, Options and Way forward) model
  • When is coaching the right time?
  • Coaching Styles
  • Mental health
  • Ethical in Coaching

The program was followed by a certain amount of hours we had to undertake on both a peer coaching setting and with other coachees. We undertook an assessment and had to submit a reflections log.

I was then truly bitten by the coaching bug, the more I learned the more I wanted to know.  The more I did the more I wanted to do.  9 months later I went on to take my Level 2, another 3-day course which was very much about reflecting, being present, taking it to the next level by deepening the coaching dialogue and Strengths-based dialogues.  It was at this point I revisited my Strengths results and also then signed up to the Gallup 4.5-day program.  I would say from there the rest is history.  I also signed up for a year-long Advanced Diploma in Facilitation.  I transitioned my career from Verizon to a small L&D business for a year but still was not able to do the work I wanted to do around Strengths Development and so left to set up The Strengths Partners.

This is my path and I know that everybody will take a different path.  About a year after my level 1, ICF introduced the pathway program ACC, PCC and MCC.  I paid for my membership and started to track my hours but have to say I found it super confusing and never stayed the course to complete the tracking.  I let my membership lapse and didn’t really revisit it again until recently when I started seeing people post their little badges of “I am now an ACC!” I also in the last 12-18 months have had more and more inquiries from other coaches as to if I offer the ICF Mentoring?  As you might know I coach and mentor other coaches but that mentoring is very much me having both hats on.  Sometimes asking questions and staying in coaching mode to find out what you want to get from the session, understanding the Goal, the Reality of what is happening right now, what have you tried so far and what are your Options.  At this point, I share some ideas and resources I have found so I swap into a true mentoring role, offering advice, something that is a no-no if I were being a true coach.  However, I would like to offer ICF Mentoring and get my badges (it must be the Significance in me) so I am at the tail end of my PCC journey. 

If I look back at the ICF site it is so much easier than before to work out your path.  Still a little confusing but WAY better.  I think it looks confusing as there are different paths you can take which is good from a flexibility point of view.  We know we all think, feel and behave differently, we all have different experiences, training and opportunity. These pathways enable you to choose.  I am taking what is known as the PCC ACTP path. I have already completed an entire ICF Accredited Coach Training Program (My IECL Level 1 and 2) and all the other programs through Gallup I have done are the sugar on top and extra development hours like the Summit and Learning series.  I am being more disciplined at tracking my hours and using Calendly helps with this.  I am about to embark on my 10 Mentoring hours with another ICF coach who would need to be either a PCC or an MCC.

I recently hosted a panel event with 3 ICF and Gallup Accredited Coaches.  You can watch the recording here.

Bonnie (ACC), Gavan (PCC) and Brent (MCC) shared their journey, insights, pitfalls and tips on how and why you might become ICF accredited.  As Brent described it is the Gold standard of coaching.  I would say Gallup training gives you the fundamentals but spend more time on the tool.  An ICF program gives you more insight into the other things listed above like modality, ethics and is stronger in the core competencies.  I have also attended the Gallup Advanced Coaching Training (twice, I was on the first-ever pilot and attended a few years later after they had Maximised) which does go deeper into coaching.  The Gallup training also offers you a path and the team is super helpful in answering your questions on the path and help you track your training hours and providing the certificates you need.  You can check out the eligibility and hours here  or email

Being ICF accredited has helped me win business I might not have got without it. I am on a number of corporate business coaching panels. I have responded to RFP’s that insist on you being ICF trained and I know it helps me be a better coach. I believe as a coach out job is not to tell but to help the other person. Coaching is a method and a mindset to help the other person be even better. It’s a structured conversation with a measurable outcome.

If you have any queries I am more than happy for you to get in touch and I look forward to sharing my PCC badge soon as well as offering ICF mentor coaching.

Charlotte Blair
23 April 2021