New professional credential option for service members who muster out

Military service members who want a way to get a professional credential in coaching, have an new way to do it.

Military service members who want a way to get a professional credential in coaching, have an new way to do it. It is via the Credentialing Opportunities On-Line, or COOL program. COOL has been around for years. Now it has enlisted the International Coaching Federation. For more, the Federal Drive with Tom Temin talked with Carrie Abner, the Vice President for Credentials and Standards at the International Coaching Federation, and with Coach Danny Doucette, a Trustee of the Air Force Aid Society.

Interview Transcript: 

Tom Temin And, Carrie, I’m going to start with you. Tell us what this credential is for and maybe a little bit about the International Coaching Federation. You’re not talking about football and baseball coaching, are you?

Carrie Abner That’s right. We’re talking about professional coaching. And at the International Coaching Federation we are the largest global professional association of professional coaches. And what we mean by coaching, it’s a collaborative creative process where a coach works with a client to help them realize their full personal and professional potential. So, at the ICF, we provide professional certifications for coach practitioners, and we are delighted that one of our credentials, the Associate Certified Coach credential, has now been approved and is available to US military service members and civilian staff through the Cool program. The DoD COOL Program. The Associate Certified Coach Credential acknowledges professionals who have attained education experience and independently validated their knowledge and skills through assessment to serve as a qualified coach. So, we’re very excited to make that available to service members.

Tom Temin Okay. And, Danny, you know, the often expectation is that people coming out of the military have done so much and has such great leadership skills, etc., etc., that they can just march right into industry and find a place. The reality is quite different though, isn’t it?

Danny Doucette It is. And a lot of the bridge that happens in the civilian sector requires either a license or a certification. They have all this experience growing up in the military, and then as they transition out of the military, they’re kind of on a gap. And what the ICF associate certification does is bridge that gap. It’s the gold standard of coaching internationally. You know, in the military we’ve had several opportunities, but we call it something different in the military. It was mentoring in the military versus on the civilian sector. It’s called coaching.

Tom Temin But can you make a living at it? It’s not like you’re getting a credential to pull a tooth, which would be a dental degree and a dental license, which is, you know, a living is coaching something someone can do. And or is it something you do in connection with some other private sector job?

Danny Doucette Well, I’m a beneficiary of this. And so, if it wasn’t for this in 2018 when I transitioned, I wouldn’t have received the position where I’m currently at. There’s a lot of fields career placement in the HR field, executive leadership, training, development and overall, just general leadership. When you think about coaching, just like what Carrie said, it’s holding peers accountable. And so, it’s a fundamental core competency that you learn. You get certified, but not only for that person itself, but the people that are hiring coaches. They know that there’s ethics behind the coaching, there’s confidentiality behind that. So that trust factor really does help, and you can make a really successful career. I just so happen to benefit from the company that I work for, Leadership Foundry, a division of Parsons. And we do this both internally and for external clients.

Tom Temin Parsons you mean the big engineering firm? Yes, sir. Okay. Just want to make sure we get the right Parsons in there. And, Carrie, how does this type of activity differ from mentoring? Because a lot of companies and organizations have mentors, but coaching sounds a little bit more formal. Tell us how that works.

Carrie Abner So in mentoring, generally speaking, the mentor provides expertise to the individual that they’re supporting. Coaching is different. Coaching realizes that clients often have the resources, the answers, the solutions to help them grow and to best inform their path forward. Coaches serve to support their clients in discovering and becoming aware of those solutions that are intrinsically inside them, that are already there, just waiting to come out and emerge. And it is a growing profession. We are seeing huge growth in the coaching profession worldwide. You asked a little earlier about the ability. To make a living in this field. According to the 2023 Global Coaching Study, that ICF supported coaching has experienced huge growth, with an estimated number of coach practitioners surpassing 100,000 for the first time ever. That’s a 54% increase compared to 2019, so it’s a huge and growing profession worldwide.

Tom Temin We’re speaking with Carrie Abner. She’s vice president for credentials and standards at the International Coaching Federation and with Danny Doucet, he’s a credentialed coach himself. Also, a trustee of the Air Force Aid Society. And, Danny, anything to add?

Danny Doucette One thing that I would mention also about executive coaching. It’s very similar to sports coaching. When you think about an athletic coach where they have line coach, a quarterback coach, a running coach, doctors, the profession of medical doctors may even hire a coach just to watch them during the surgery and hold them accountable. Maybe provide them with a different perspective. High performing CEO C-suite folks where they’re actually performing, and they just need that one edge just to continue or grow in a new company wherever they go. So, it is a growing field. It is foundational, very similar to sports.

Tom Temin And how do you make sure that coaches in the credentialing or in the training don’t veer off into psychology because, you know, there’s a common saying in management when you are supervising people. We’re not psychologists. And it sounds like this could, without a little bit of fence around it, devolve into something someone’s not qualified to do.

Carrie Abner That’s a wonderful question, Tom. And that is built into the code of ethics, as well as into the core competencies for coaching practice. And to your point, the credential, the associate certified credential, which is now approved by the Department of Defense COOL program, includes this as part of the requirements that coaches recognize the limitations, the boundaries of professional practice, and do not take on roles that are not within coaching itself. Coaching is different from therapy, counseling, and other similar helping disciplines, and it’s important that we maintain that distinction there. As a certified coach, professional coaches sign on to a code of ethics, which they confirm and verify that they will maintain through their professional practice.

Tom Temin Yes, because performance and situations that affect people negatively are often outside of the workplace that could have a marital problem. They can have any one of a million types of things. So, at that point, the coach’s best advice is, well, you better see somebody about that because I can’t help you.

Carrie Abner That’s absolutely right. There are clear requirements within the core competencies that we provide for professional coaches to provide referrals to other support systems when a client may need it.

Tom Temin And, Danny, in your military experience, you have seen that people at a young age become responsible for the performance of others, often in life and death situations, and they call that leadership. And then there are specific skills you need in the military situation that you are trained to have. How does that map over to coaching or does it?

Danny Doucette It does. And when you think about even just being non-judgmental or holding others, growing leadership is about taking care of maybe their servicemen. ICF provides a framework where you could actually help them grow. And this is the beauty of executive coaching for the DoD, because whether it’s promotion, whether it’s just transition into a career, I want to see that service person get better. And how do you do it? Through fundamental coaching questions, typically the response that we see is the service person knows the answer. The coach just provides questions to highlight that answer that they’re going to come up with. Mentoring is I will tell you how to do this coaching versus is I’m going to help you through coaching questions.

Tom Temin Got it. So, a good coach might have said to general MacArthur, maybe you should land before the president arrives.

Danny Doucette Yes, exact.

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