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Deciding whom to work with when you are looking for an executive coach remains difficult. In 2004 The Harvard Business Review wrote about the “Wild West of Coaching”, noting that there were few barriers to entry, few quality controls and few ways for clients to check whether they were getting good, or even safe service. Things have improved somewhat since then.  Although technically, anybody can still style themselves as a coach, credible professional bodies, such as the International Coach Federation, Association for Coaching, European Mentoring and Coaching Council and the Association of Professional Executive Coaches have emerged. Frameworks for ethics and competency standards are converging and requirements for accreditation by these bodies are tightening all the time.

So when you are looking for a coach, asking for an accreditation may be a good idea. You can be certain of a number of things:

  • The coach is confident enough in their skills to be prepared to submit themselves to assessment by a professional body
  • They will be aware of and have agreed to adhere to strict ethical standards
  • They will have undergone skills and knowledge training and have a body of practical coaching experience behind them
  • They will be committed to continuing professional development


Are there excellent coaches out there who are not accredited? Certainly, and at the end of the day other factors, such as personal chemistry and special areas of interest might be more important factors in your decision.  But in going for an accreditation, you can tick a number of boxes on your criteria list when making this important decision.

I chose the International Coach Federation for my accreditation because their experiential approach and requirements for demonstrating skills live complemented the intensity and depth of academic rigour, critical thinking and practitioner research approach of my Coaching and Mentoring M.A. from Oxford Brookes University. I’m glad to be able to call upon the resources of the ICF to keep me up to date with latest practice.

If you would like to search for an accredited executive coach, try these links: