To coach or to be a coach? That is the question!

Anyone can learn to have a coaching conversation, but not everyone will become a professional coach.


“Coaching is a conversation that leads to a change in thought or behaviour” (Christian van Nieuwerburgh). It is an intentional converstation with a structure which can be learned. As a leader it can be useful to have some coaching techniques as you seek to help people to do their best work. A mentor, a teacher, a spouse, a parent, a friend, all may use a coaching approach to some coversations — these conversations will mainly focus around good questions which raise awareness and help the person think through whatever it is they need to think through. It is not giving them advice, or telling them what to do — it is drawing out and can be learned by just about anyone.


To be a coach is to become a professional who’s job it is to coach. The relationship is not one of boss, friend, spouse, teacher or anyone else — they are just a coach.

A professional coach will have studied to become a professional. They will have hours of practice. They will work under a professional code of ethics and if they are serious, they will be credentialled by a professional body such as the ICF or the EMCC.


If you want to become a coach why not check the ICF “BECOME A COACH” website.


Anyone can CALL THEMSELVES a coach — but that can be misleading. The European Council has published a Professional Charter for the coaching profession. If you are contracting a coach check out this information.

The coaching profession consisting of executive, business, personal and other specialty coaches, has grown exponentially over the past decade. In order to inform the public and to contribute to the professionalisation of coaching and mentoring, the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) together with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and others have created and adopted a Professional Charter for Coaching and Mentoring.

This Professional Charter includes the requirement to undergo relevant coach-specific or mentor-specific training to include both theoretical and practical competence in the exercise of their profession, in a context where competencies are to be measured against a broadly recognised (by professional associations) specific Competency Framework.

The Professional Charter also requires practitioners to undertake ongoing efforts to develop and maintain their competence through relevant education and training, and coaches and mentors are encouraged to maintain ready access to a more senior and/or more experienced coach or mentor, whom they should consult on a regular basis whilst active on coaching or mentoring programmes.

The Professional Charter further requires coaches and mentors to abide explicitly by a Code of Ethics containing minimum standards of ethics and professional behaviour described in the Professional Charter . It also requires that professional organisations make such a commitment a condition of individual coach/mentor membership. Finally, the Professional Charter requires that professional organisations have in place an organisation and a procedure to monitor and deal with cases of alleged breach of the Code.