What learning keeps you competitive as an executive coach?

Staying competitive in the field of executive coaching requires practicing coaches to embody one of the International Coaching Federation’s (ICF) core competencies of “Embodying a Coaching Mindset”, which includes “…an invitation for coaches to be truly open to ongoing learning and development, to stay curious and develop a reflective practice…”

In addition, in a recent Forbes article the author shares the belief that “investing in honing your craft” is one of the top ways to stand out in the executive coaching market. Investing in continuing professional development is also required by the ICF in order to renew a credential at the ACC, PCC or MCC level. 

The challenge for executive coaches then is to answer the question “what continuing education is right for me?” 

To answer this question I recently reached out to a broad community of practicing coaches to gain their insights. This community included coaches with expertise in executive coaching, leadership and performance coaching, and academic researchers with experience researching coaching best practices. All of the respondents also held some form of coaching credential, either through the ICF or an equivalent certification.   

A summary of their feedback suggests there are three main attributes a coach practitioner should keep in mind when selecting continuing professional development. They believed the  training must be:


One survey participant shared the belief that

“...if you are going to spend the time developing yourself…find a program or an activity that challenges you…live the belief that your training should be as transformational as you expect your own client coaching experience should be”.

This feedback was almost universally shared by the more experienced coach practitioners. These coaches also shared that they wanted the training to help push them out of their comfort zone, and looked forward to participating in learning programs that provided new techniques and more effective methods of client engagement. 

Many also stated that while there is some value in completing online courses that don’t require interaction or active engagement with instructors or co-participants, the real value lies in the ability to practice a technique ‘live’ combined with structured feedback.  One participant shared that she felt this was

…especially true when it comes to building cognitive muscle memory and refining a technique ‘in the moment’ with a skilled facilitator…” 

Reinforcing an inclusive mindset

Another consistent thread of feedback was the belief (shared by several long-tenured coaches) that the best-in-class professional development programs required participants to be truly curious, sustain a level of personal reflection relevant to the learning and be open to change. In the words of one respondent

“…when I come into a classroom or appear on an online call for the first time I want my colleagues to actively help me challenge my assumptions and share with me a safe space to grow and learn new and unique perspectives…”. 

In addition, many felt that the most inclusive learning programs were led by experienced facilitators who were able to ‘meet participants where they were at’ when it came to how the learner processed new information, showed up in the practice rounds and accepted/ integrated feedback. 

State of Practice

The field of executive coaching is growing and evolving at a wonderful, powerful rate. Tenured coaches universally felt that in order to invest their time and expense in a learning experience, that experience had to be grounded in current theory, evidence-based and delivered by instructors/facilitators who were recognized experts in their discipline. 

Most felt that coaching professional development programs linked to top-ranked coach training providers with strong alumni networks provided the best opportunity to interact with top faculty and engage with material that is leading edge. One MCC-level coach shared:

“..being able to talk to the person who did the actual research and published her findings on a topic relevant to my coaching interests was amazing…” 

In summary, think about these “top 3” when exploring your own continuing education. For those who may be interested in a program that meets all of the above selection criteria, I suggest you take a look at ACT’s Next Level Coaching Program

To remain competitive in the field of executive coaching you owe it to yourself to engage in training that supports your own transformational growth, provides you the opportunity to co-create supportive relationships with curious and engaged colleagues and challenges you to integrate these new methods into your own coaching practice. To quote a colleague who recently completed this course

“To be the best you have to train with the best, whether as a professional athlete, musician or in my case, as an executive coach…this program exceeded my expectations”

The Next Level Coaching Program offers experienced executive coaches the opportunity to learn new concepts that are truly transformational, and the learning is delivered in a manner that checks the box regarding the “top 3” required attributes of an exceptional continuing education program. 

Click here to learn more about the Next Level Coaching Program

Written by: Dr. Mike Beckmann

Mike is an experienced leadership coach and strategic workforce development executive.

ACT is an internationally recognized coaching, leadership development and consulting company known for its commitment to leadership and performance coaching, valuing its long term partnerships with Brown University, the intelligence communities and its loyal and devoted diverse community.