New Opportunities for Coaching in Organizations

New Opportunities

The numbers speak for themselves: According to the 2013 Executive Coaching Survey, conducted by the Center for Leadership Development and Research at Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, and The Miles Group, 34 percent of CEOs and 51 percent of senior executives receive coaching. Meanwhile, according to Building a Coaching Culture, ICF and the Human Capital Institute’s (HCI) 2014 study of coaching in organizations, 43 percent of respondents reported that their organizations employed internal coaches and 60 percent said coaching was available to their high-potential employees. While Leadership and Executive Coaching remain areas of business with a huge potential, coaching is spreading into organizations’ lower levels, creating new opportunities for coaches.

Renewed Demand for Coaching in Organizations

Increasingly, organizations view coaching as a way to retain talented employees and enhance leadership development and soft skills.

Talent Retention

While the recovery from the 2008 recession has been slow, it has been steady. Since 2009, nine million new jobs have been created. Many talented managers now see opportunities for advancement with or outside of their organization. In a dramatic shift from earlier in the century, one of the main challenges now facing most executive teams is attracting and retaining talent. The cost of turnover is high, particularly when high-potential employees leave. This is an area where an organization’s approach to training and development can make a difference.

Wage increases and financial incentives alone are unlikely to keep talent in organizations. Research suggests that the most common reasons for an employee to leave a company have nothing to do with compensation: Lack of opportunities, boredom, lack of challenge or poor work/life balance are cited as reasons for 70 percent of departures. Dissatisfaction with compensation accounts for less turnover.

And here is where coaching comes into play: Not only do corporate coaches develop high-potential employees by preparing managers for promotion and addressing derailing behaviors, but they also reinforce a manager’s commitment to the company. Managers and employees need to feel that they belong to the organization, and that they grow at a personal level. In focusing on personal and soft skills, coaching keeps employees engaged, with 2015 data from ICF and HCI revealing that 60 percent of employees in organizations with strong coaching cultures rate themselves as highly engaged.

Leadership Development

Leadership, performance and change management are key areas of coaching for organizations, with research conducted independently by HCI and jointly by ICF and HCI citing leadership development, change management and onboarding as some of the most frequently cited reasons for organizations to utilize coaching.

Executives and the c-suite remain the main targets for coaching in companies, and the potential in these areas is huge. According to the Stanford survey, approximately 33 percent of CEOs of large organizations receive coaching and 100 percent of CEOs are open to change based on external feedback. Furthermore, boards of directors are recommending coaching for directors and CEOs with increasing frequency.

Improving Soft Skills

Aside from the traditional areas of talent retention and leadership skills, soft skills, such as communication, teamwork and decision–making,- have recently been recognized as profitable areas for improvement within companies. In that area, the role of coaches is to help employees be more self-aware. For example, as a coach you may support a client in cultivating the ability to offer effective feedback or participate productively in a team. Organizations have begun to understand the value of building a culture of coaching at all levels, and the potential in that area is huge: According to ICF and HCI’s 2015 study, Building a Coaching Culture for Increased Employee Engagement, only 13 percent of participating organizations were classified as having a strong coaching culture. This untapped niche opens a full range of new opportunities.

Opportunities for All

Savvy business-generating coaches learn to align and promote their services with the emerging needs and trends in organizations.

Veteran practitioners who already have the experience of delivering Executive Coaching to CEOs or c-suite leaders can leverage the new niche of entry-level and mid-level managers as a way to broaden and diversify their portfolios. This same target presents the greatest opportunity area for aspiring coaches seeking to build their experience in the corporate setting.

What product can you create as a coach to demonstrate your value and generate new business in the organizational setting? Creating and delivering a unique presentation or workshop can demonstrate to organizational decision-makers, such as human resources directors, how you can support their strategic goals and contribute to a high return on investment for coaching.

Get your foot in the door. Start small. Be concrete. Focus on a target area of growth and create a program that is bound to make a noticeable change. There is a world of improvement needed in most organizations. Pick your challenge, and go for it!

Odile CarruOdile Carru, MBA, PCC
is a certified Executive and Corporate Coach. She serves large international companies and executive private clients. She is the president of ICF South Florida. Learn more at

Marc WeinsteinMarc Weinstein, Ph.D. is a clinical professor and director of Florida International University’s master of science program in human resource management. He is also the vice president of the Core Leadership Area for the Greater Miami Society for Human Resource Management (GMSHRM).

Odile and Marc collaborated in organizing GMSHRM’s Career Development Day at Florida International University in April 2015. In addition to offering a workshop titled “How to Succeed in Your First Professional Steps: A Coaching Approach,” Odile led a team of ICF coaches who volunteered their time and service for over 100 students from southern Florida.

If you liked this, read Coaching World for other great articles.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Creative Confidence: A Leader’s Shift

Kate Canales ICF GLF sketch

Earlier this month, I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, USA to attend the second annual International Coach Federation Global Leaders Forum (GLF). I was especially excited and honored to represent my local Chapter, ICF Philadelphia, again and to have the privilege of hearing keynote speaker Kate Canales, Director of Design and Innovation Programs at Southern Methodist University. This was not your typical coaching conference.

But, rather it was a forum of leaders from all over the globe, committed to building a high-performance organization for the advancement of professional coaching. I was there to learn more about positive disruptions in leadership and shift as a leader for my chapter, my global association and my work as an executive and leadership coach.

Here are my notes from Kate Canales’ keynote, “The Design of Disruption” (after the initial sketching exercise that was designed to ignite the audience’s creativity including my own). It’s important to understand that design thinking is an applicable framework for leaders wanting to create unique opportunities and gain a competitive edge in an ever-competitive-and-changing environment. As you read, think of a challenge that demands a new approach in order to achieve a new solution.

Creativity is the #1 leadership competency for your success in business now and in the future. According to the IBM Global CEO study, standout leaders encourage experimentation and innovation throughout the organization. Creative leaders expect to make extensive business model changes in order to realize their strategies. To succeed, creative leaders take more calculated risks, find new ideas and keep innovating how they lead and communicate. Where might you exercise your risk-taking or boldness muscle?

Design thinking is an applicable process for creative and innovative ideas and for solving problems. It is not limited to industry or expertise, rather the most successful organizations co-create products and services for customers while improving processes designed for better solutions. It’s time to “think outside of the box” and gain new perspective for solving your problem. What problem are you facing that needs an outside perspective?

Creative confidence helps leaders break the habit of planning. All too often, we spend too much time planning and fail to execute our ideas. One of the easiest ways to break the overplanning syndrome and spark creativity is to draw your ideas on paper (with colored markers) or write your ideas on Post-it notes.

From my own experience, the use of colored pencils and moving notes on a whiteboard is a fun process and deepens my thinking for new strategies in pursuit of my goal.

In the words of Thomas Edison, about failure and inventing the lightbulb: “I have not failed, not once. I’ve discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work.”

What will creative confidence bring you as a leader and coach?

ICF Philadelphia at ICF GLF

ICF Philadelphia Chapter members at GLF (Pictured left to right): Peg Calvario, Pat Matthews, Lynn Meinke and Becky Scott

Top Photo Credit: A sketch by Kate Canales

Peg Calvario headshotPeg Calvario, PCC is an executive and leadership coach, a consultant and an active contributor to the coaching profession in various leadership roles.  Her coaching focuses on leadership development, particularly for emerging leaders in family-owned businesses who want to accelerate growth.  She often mentors coaches applying for ICF Credentials.  In 2008, Peg sold her family-owned fitness business after 26 years and created a fresh start enrolling in CTI’s Coach Training program.  She is President of ICF Philadelphia Chapter.  Learn more at  Listen to her new podcast, The Competitive Advantage Podcast

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

The Power of Bringing Art into the Coaching Process

Beinart artwork

In addition to being a career coach, I am also an artist, and I have found a way to combine these things to create a unique form of visual coaching. I wanted to share with you how I developed this approach, the impact it has on clients and my thoughts on the power of bringing more of ourselves into our coaching.

Last year, through my own coaching experience, I was exploring a way to bring more of myself into my coaching practice and to be more authentic as a coach. I am an artist, and I wanted to find a way to combine my passion for art with my coaching. Also, I had recently studied an art therapy foundation course, which emphasized the power of art for me on so many levels.

I experimented with finding different visual ways to capture what had happened after each coaching session, and I then started to share these with my clients. The responses I got were really surprising and led me to develop the way I work now.

After each session, I paint a picture based on the energy, themes and feelings I have felt and observed in my client. These can be anything from reproducing something they have visualized in the session, an image that comes to mind when I reflect on the session or even something abstract that is purely feelings based. I will send the picture through to my client by email the next day and ask them to let me know their initial reflections. I don’t analyze these myself; it feels to me to purely be an extension of our role as to reflect back what we see.

I then use these with my clients in our coaching. I bring them out at the beginning of each session to reflect on further, at points in the coaching when it feels like they could help my client (it’s a bit like bringing out a tool from your coaching toolkit when it feels appropriate), and in the last session to review the whole coaching journey together.

I have been using this approach for eight months now, and the results have been amazing. When I talk about it to others, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end! My clients say that the images really capture the essence of the sessions for them—they can tap back into the energy of the session by looking at the picture, and they often bring up really intense and powerful feelings.

They see different things in the images each time they look at them, so they are living, breathing images; rather like looking at yourself from a different perspective as coaching enables you to do. When they look back at these images, whether it is a few weeks or a few months later, they can see the progress they have made. And I love the fact some of my clients have shown the images to their partners and friends and been able to say “this is how I feel” without having to put it into words.

My first ever experience of coaching was great. I had a one-off complimentary session with my parent’s business coach when I was in my 20s. After that session, I felt I could achieve anything, and it was very powerful. That feeling didn’t last. I remember thinking at the time “it would be amazing if you could bottle that feeling.”

What I do with my art, in a way, is to bottle the session and the feelings from it—they  are captured in my drawings. I think sometimes it feels like our options are limited to offering notes or a written summary to our clients after a session (if in fact we give them anything at all),  but there can be other ways to sum up sessions.

I’m not saying that we can all work in the way I do—I am able to work in this way because I am an artist and the artwork I do for myself is very intuitive and based on my own feelings—but we all have things in our life we are passionate about, our own skills or experiences that are unique to us, that could really benefit our clients. It is about being bold and having the courage to try these things out.

My advice for others is to not be afraid to bring more of yourself into the coaching and to be inventive and creative as to how. When you do, as I have seen, great things can happen, and you can provide your clients with a much more valuable experience as a result.

Art Credit: Jane Beinart

Jane Beinart headshotJane Beinart is an artist and visual career coach, with a passion for personal development and a background in learning and development and the arts.   She helps people to feel happier and more fulfilled in their job or career, whether that is making small changes such as tweaking their working hours or learning how to work with that difficult colleague, or big changes such as deciding on a new career direction. Learn more at

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

The Mental Game of Building a Coaching Practice

crossword puzzle

To succeed commercially as a professional coach, there is so much that needs to be taken care of.

In addition to acquiring your coach training, you have to figure out how to set up and run a business that attracts enough of your ideal clients. Many coaches have never been in business for themselves, do not know how long the journey will be and face a host of doubts, rejections and pretty much constant levels of elevated anxiety. A coach’s ability to manage their thoughts, emotions, attention and expectations can make a huge difference in determining who gets discouraged and drops by the wayside and who stays on track and succeeds. In this video, Steve Mitten, MCC, CPCC will help you explore the necessary thoughts and feelings, and he also has a few tips.

Steve MittenSteve Mitten, MCC, CPCC, ICF Global Past President (2005), 2007 Canadian Coach of the Year, is an internationally recognized coach who enjoys doing transformational work with individuals, leaders, solopreneurs and business owners. He helps his client get clear, get a plan and enjoy far more success, meaning and happiness in their lives, careers and businesses. Steve is also an expert mentor on the marketing of coaching services. He is the author of Marketing Essentials for Coaches, a yogi and a longtime student of developmental and positive psychology, myth, neuroscience and the wisdom traditions. His website is

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Store Cupboard Marketing and Daily Habits

store cupboard

Most of us have a cupboard in our kitchen with pantry essentials–perhaps a bag of flour, some sugar and spices. These may seem like basic ingredients, but when the occasion calls for it, they can be turned into a celebration cake or other fitting treat.

Marketing can be the same. With a few items in stock, you can easily take advantage of any opportunity to promote your business. Let me give you an example. During my PR days in London, I worked on a campaign that won multiple awards, fostered civic pride and has continued to evolve for over ten years. The campaign started with a box of button badges.

We got a tipoff our borough was to be named “Worst Place to Live” on national television. With 48 hours’ notice and no allocated budget, we had to act fast. We called on local journalists, turned local outrage into positive stories, created an e-card for people to respond directly to and handed out thousands of badges.

On the day of broadcast, every public building had a banner professing love for the borough. Bus drivers, shops, police, postal staff and many others wore badges with pride. The campaign became the story. In this case, our store cupboard ingredients were the badges and the relationships we had established with journalists and the local people.

What do you need in your marketing store cupboard?

Think through what “just in case” things you can have to help you whip up some magical marketing. This might be as simple as always having a snazzy jacket in your office for an impromptu TV appearance. It might be making sure your website is ready to cope with increased traffic should your coaching receive acclaim. For others, it might be having signage ready to attend a trade show or flyers for a short-notice networking event. Some of the best opportunities need a rapid response to maximize the opportunity they create.

What about your daily marketing habits?

So you spotted a survey about leadership burnout, and you offered a media interview on a coach’s perspective. Whipping out the snazzy jacket from your office, you head to the TV studio. Suddenly you are the go-to coach and all over the press. You are so busy trying to fit it all in that when the interest subsides, you realize you have neglected the marketing for your core business. This might be an extreme example, but when we get busy, many of us stop marketing.

No matter how busy you are, I bet most of you brush your teeth several times each day. You probably have a series of habits you do every single day, no matter what. To be successful with your marketing, you need to create systems and habits that allow that level of consistency.

If you use social media as a marketing tool, scheduling your posts is one great example. Building a series of auto-responders is another. But these daily habits don’t have to be high-tech. Every time you go out, be sure to have a handful of business cards. It’s a basic approach that nets results. Developing a value proposition that you are comfortable using when meeting new people is another.

Marketing can sometimes feel overwhelming. By breaking it down to basic simple approaches, it can become as ingrained a daily habit as brushing our teeth.

Mary Anna WrightMary Anna Wright Ph.D., PCC works with coaches from around the world, helping them develop their businesses and deepen their coaching skills. She runs regular mentor programs that support coaches applying for ICF Credentials, and she also does some coach supervision. Her coaching focuses on leadership development, particularly for communications managers in the nonprofit sector. Five years ago, Mary Anna left a successful PR career in London and moved to her family farm in Donegal, Ireland. She was welcomed by ICF Ireland and is a past President of the Chapter. Learn more at

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Why Nobody Reads Your Coaching e-Newsletter (and What to Do About It)


Staying in touch with your network is essential if you want to build a successful coaching business, and email marketing is still one of the best ways to do that. However, with an average person checking their phone 221 times per day and receiving over 1,500 irrelevant emails per year (U.K. data), it is becoming increasingly difficult for any coach to engage with their prospective clients.

Below are some typical mistakes that you as a coach are probably making when sending emails to your database and a few quick fixes. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to double your open rate.

1. Your Subject Line

If you have an open rate lower than average (below 22 percent according to MailChimp data for the Training and Education industry), it most likely means your email either isn’t getting delivered or your subject line is boring and sounds too commercial. The subject line is half of your success—if you don’t hook people with it, they won’t even bother opening your email.

To come up with a good subject line, you need to write at least 30 of them (yes, thirty) and then choose a couple to A/B test. A/B testing consists of sending an email with one subject line to a portion of your email list and sending the same email with a different subject line to another portion of your list. Then based on the open rate, you send the winning version to the remainder of your list. Any decent mailing program can do it for you. Don’t follow your intuition here—check the numbers.

2. Your Name

You may sound too “salesy” and not human if you have a company name instead of yours in your email. Remember, people HATE receiving emails from businesses. They are much more likely to open your email if you are sending it under your personal name and not your business name.

3. Email Length

People these days are overwhelmed and have too many distractions. It’s been proven that people don’t read online, but rather, they just scan through texts in an F-shaped pattern. Given this knowledge, think about keyword placement in your text/email to make scanning easier. DO NOT WRITE LONG TEXTS. Period.

4. Too Many Links or Other Distractions

If you include too many links, your email usually doesn’t make it through the spam filter and even if it does, your readers can get distracted. Our brain stops processing what we are reading when we see a link as we have to make a subconscious decision of whether to click on it. The fewer links, the better.

Try to avoid distracting elements in your emails or website (e.g., flashy ads, lots of different fonts), as they also put you at risk of getting flagged by the spam filter. And, please, please never ever put your email on a black background—it’s impossible to read. You won’t send a flashy email to your friend, will you? So why torture your readers? Keep the design simple.

5. One email—one idea—one call to action

If people open your emails and tell you that your content is awesome but there’s no action following, you are probably suggesting too many things for them to do (e.g., subscribe, share, buy, reply, etc.). Or, you have shared too much content, creating too much choice and distraction. Remember, one email—one idea—one call to action. It’s better to give less than more.

Bonus fix (the most important one for all new coaches): Make sure you are not talking about yourself and your product, but rather about your potential clients. First give them value, then even more value, and only then, ask for a deal.

Anastasia DedyukhinaAnastasia Dedyukhina is an entrepreneur, startup mentor, coach and Huffington Post blogger. In the middle of a successful international career in digital marketing, Anastasia gave up her smartphone to start a digital detox business Consciously Digital. She is a frequent public speaker and also consults companies and individuals on sustainable online marketing that doesn’t distract people. You can learn more about Anastasia at

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

The Golden Rules of Coaching

man presenting to small group

The Other Side of the Table

Angie stood up and approached the podium nervously fidgeting with her notes. Her anxious hands and sweaty palms were definitely a tell, but her glazed deer-in-the-headlights face was a dead giveaway. Then, she made her opening statement, which removed all doubt and revealed her deathly fear of public speaking.

You know that helpless and hopeless feeling when you are trying to master a new skill, but you feel like you are falling further and further behind? We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. I was only a year removed from that same nervous podium and now sat on the other side of the table, judging Angie’s performance with two other colleagues.

We were in moot court class in law school, a place that should be safe for learning, making mistakes and practicing the skill of making a legal argument in front of judges. Like many of you coaches, my purpose was not to tear Angie down; rather, it was to build her up.

Constructive not Destructive

Fortunately for Angie, our panel had three rules for feedback. Golden rules that are applicable for anyone in a coaching or teaching position:

1. Be Positive. When providing feedback, it is extremely valuable to start with something that was done well. Build confidence and trust in the client/student so they know you support them and are there to make them better. Make them defensive and the opportunity to learn is lost.

With Angie, it was clear that she had researched and prepared well, so we highlighted what she had done well.

2. Be Critical. While being positive sets an awesome tone, it does very little in terms of helping clients/students actually improve on their weaknesses. In being critical, try to delve deep and uncover the root of the shortcoming.

Ask, “Why is this happening?”

Or finish the statement, “The reason you are experiencing [this shortcoming] is because …”

Angie was nervous because she was trying too hard to please her judges. Angie fumbled her quotes because she was trying too hard to get each quote perfect.

3. Provide Tools. Though being critical is absolutely essential, it alone is simply not enough. You have to provide direction for the client/student. You have to provide tools for them to practice. This takes them from the mindset of thinking “I’m not good enough” to refocusing them on a new tool to master to make them better. It invigorates the client’s/student’s desire to learn.

Angie needed to stop presenting to the judges and should have started a conversation with the judges. We suggested she practice talking to herself in the mirror and pretend she was explaining her argument with a friend over coffee. Stop trying to be overly technical.

As for the quotes, she needed to stop trying to be perfect. Paraphrasing was perfectly acceptable.

The Results

A few weeks later I bumped into Angie, she had a different feel to her. She thanked me profusely and said that my panel was the best set of judges because we went the extra mile to provide tools for her to improve. She said she practiced all the tools we gave and that her scores had consistently improved each week. More importantly, moot court was now something she looked forward to. Her newfound confidence was palpable.

Whenever we have the opportunity to coach or teach, the opportunity must be valued with the utmost respect. By being positive and critical and by providing tools to your clients/students, you provide a safe environment for learning, advancement, optimism and fun. Anything less is a disservice to your client/student.

Creighton Wong headshotCreighton Wong has a wide and varied experience as a coach, teacher and client/student. He is always curious to learn, willing to share his insights and uncover better ways to do things.

 Currently, Creighton is developing a software platform to help independent coaches run their business better through technology. He needs your help to understand what challenges can be solved with better software solutions. Your opinion is valuable. To help, please follow this link to answer a few questions:

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Spend 10 Minutes a Day on These 5 Actions for Your Coaching Practice

Daily planning

Do you start your working day wondering what you should be doing? Are you wandering aimlessly through your work life? If you want to work on your coaching practice in a productive manner, then this article is for you.

When I first started my coaching business, I was at a loss for how I should be spending my days. I asked myself, “What should I be doing today to grow my coaching business?”

Being no stranger to owning a business, I used my previous experience to guide me in becoming a productive coaching business owner by thinking about what I’d done in the past to make sure I was on track with my business goals. I wanted a process that wouldn’t take much time but with actions that would be meaningful.

Here are five things you can do daily in less than 10 minutes that will keep you moving forward in your coaching practice.

1. Create a Productive Mood

(1 minute)

Turn on music. Music helps one become more productive because it influences mood, which in turn improves happiness. In other words, everything is better with music. If your practice is located in an office, then classical music may be in order. If your office is private and you can shut the door, you can select whatever style of music that makes you happy.

2. Revisit Your Goals

(2 minutes)

Keep your annual goals on a 3-by-5 note card or on your iPhone Notes app (or other similar app). Review them daily. You should be able to recite your annual goals if asked what they are. Can you do that? If not, you may need to list your goals and review them daily. Then, consult your list of tasks that will help you achieve your annual goals.

3. Create your Daily Call List

(2 minutes)

Who do you need to call today? You should be following up with at least five prospective clients daily to touch base with them and let them know you are thinking about them. You can use this call to ask if they have any ongoing challenges, to remind them that you have an event coming up, or to find out what is going with them. You can also call past clients to check in with them and possibly suggest starting a new coaching program with you.

4. Consult your Marketing Calendar

(2 minutes)

Look ahead to what needs to be done for upcoming marketing activities. Planning your marketing tactics ahead of time is an intelligent business practice. Time has a habit of sneaking up on us, so planning your monthly tasks and events will help you to stay on top of building your coaching practice.

5. Create Top 3 Priorities of the Day

(3 minutes)

The reason most people don’t get everything done in a day is because they are unrealistic with what they are reasonably capable of doing with the time they have available to them. What are the top three things that NEED to get done today? When you reviewed your goals, what were the activities that needed planning?

You can do these five things in 10 minutes each day to remain focused on the most important tasks that you need to complete daily, plus the things you should be keeping an eye on for the future. Building a coaching business is all about being intentional and focused on the key activities that will lead to success.

Suzanne Muusers headshotSuzanne Muusers is a Financial Advisor Coach and a Business Plan consultant for independent financial advisors. Suzanne helps her clients grow their income, expand their skills and rebrand their careers. Suzanne is passionate about the coaching industry and how it changes lives. Follow Suzanne on Twitter @prosperouscoach.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

3 Simple Steps to an Emergency Plan for Your Coaching Business

emergency plan checklist

In following with my previous article about contingency planning to keep your business running, this piece details the three steps you should take to write an emergency plan for your coaching business.

1. Be Prepared

Preparedness is the rather clunky term used to describe how ready you are to act if the worst happens. Specific action you need to take will depend on what disasters or emergencies you are likely to face. Your local climate will have a big impact. If you are in a hurricane zone, you will need to put different plans in place from those made by people who regularly experience blizzards, for example.

My father lives in a village which floods most years. There is a quaint little pub by the river that has hooks along the walls. All the glasses and bottles behind the bar are stored at shoulder height. When a flood warning comes, they hook up the furniture. Once the water subsides, they hose everything down and open up again. It’s rudimentary but effective.

Your government or local authority will almost certainly have done much of this thinking for you. It may even have training or advice prepared for small businesses. Preparedness really is about thinking through scenarios that might impact your work. This might not directly do with your own office building—a chemical spill in the neighboring street may still mean you have to evacuate, for example. It’s worth considering what response you’d need for fire, extreme weather, medical emergency, pandemic or security threat.

2. Check your Communications

When I get a power cut, my fancy phones don’t work. I bought an old-fashioned, plug-in type to overcome that problem, and then, too late, I realized my numbers were all stored in the digital phone memory.

It may sound basic, but it is worth creating a list of key clients’ and colleagues’ numbers as well as numbers—including your account numbers—for utility services like gas, electricity and water. Keep a printed copy in places like your car or home.

Your emergency plan needs to include protocols about who to inform and when, who makes decisions and how they are cascaded. If you work in a shared building, have a conversation with the management team about roles and responsibilities. Get to know the security desk and make sure your co-workers know who the first-aid responders and fire officers are.

For those of us with clients attending our workplace, our plans need to include visitors. What systems are in place to account for everyone in the building? Before a plane takes off, the safety announcement includes a demonstration of the emergency exits. We should be as careful with anyone who is unfamiliar with the layout of our workplace.

Also bear in mind that in major emergencies, mobile phone and Internet networks can be affected. Local radio stations still serve an important community service at these times, both for helping you communicate and for keeping you informed.

3. Practice your Plan

My friend in New Zealand has regular earthquake drills at her work. You may have a legal responsibility to do fire or other drills in your office block. But what if you work from home? It’s worth taking time to think through how you can easily and safely get out. The general advice is to think through two evacuation routes; some local fire brigades offer a home-visit service to advise you.

The emergency scenarios we are thinking through may not directly affect us: a security alert causing traffic delays or an outbreak of food poisoning at our client’s offices. We can and should still plan for their impact where possible.

Our ICF Core Coaching Competencies encourage us to “dance in the moment.” With that flexible yet mindful approach, we can develop plans that allow us a sense of safety without fear and being prepared without being worried. Thinking through planned solutions, knowing our systems and protocols allows us to focus on our main role as coaches.

Mary Anna WrightMary Anna Wright Ph.D., PCC works with coaches from around the world, helping them develop their businesses and deepen their coaching skills. She runs regular mentor programs that support coaches applying for ICF Credentials, and she also does some coach supervision. Her coaching focuses on leadership development, particularly for communications managers in the nonprofit sector. Five years ago, Mary Anna left a successful PR career in London and moved to her family farm in Donegal, Ireland. She was welcomed by ICF Ireland and is a past President of the Chapter. Learn more at

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

3 Steps to Non-Judgment

woman glares at man

A vital element of coaching presence lies in the non-judging of clients and whatever they share in coaching conversations.

In “Full Catastrophe Living,” Jon Kabat Zinn, PhD, describes the mindfulness attitude of Non-Judging: “… judgments of mind tend to dominate our minds and make it hard for us ever to find any peace … and can be extremely unhelpful in the context of meditation … premature judgment and rejection of experience is extremely common. ‘Being with’ whatever arises requires gentleness, kindness …”

While I strongly dislike and rarely use the words “judgment” or “judging,” I can appreciate applicability in the context of discerning and/or sound decision-making. However, I take exception to those words and resulting actions when they relate to labeling someone or some things as good/bad or right/wrong—being “judgmental”—which can result in imposing guilt and/or assigning blame as well as shame.

As is the case for most people, I’ve acted on and sometimes still slip into judging thoughts; however, I’m mindful to avoid bringing that negative energy into any situation. I’ve found the following three steps useful in creating and maintaining non-judgment:

  1. Suspending or letting go of thoughts: This involves noticing if/when any level of judgmental thought surfaces and mindfully breathing as I let go of, or suspend, the thought. I then refocus to the present moment, with an open mind and heart. Mindfulness meditation has been a great practice to hone this skill.
  2. Cultivating non-judgment of thoughts: When meditating mindfully, as any thought surfaces, I simply observe without judging it as good/bad or right/wrong and without analyzing why it arose. I gently let it be while refocusing back to my breath—“being with” and not doing anything with the thought.
  3. Tapping into core values to override judging thoughts: In noticing if/when my thoughts involve being judgmental toward a person or situation, I mindfully breathe and connect to my core values of openness and non-judgment. In a millisecond, I can easily shift from judgment to non-judgment.

While I have a reputation of being non-judgmental, as outlined in the story below, I’m a work in progress!

As I steered my cart down a grocery store aisle, a woman was pushing hers with a baby girl (having a temper-tantrum) seated in the front. To the woman’s right, a little boy was tossing items from shelves to the floor. On her left, a little girl was crying to be picked up.

The fifth person involved was a man walking about three steps ahead of the shopping cart. Strolling slowly, he seemed oblivious to the chaos behind. At the end of the aisle, he waited for the woman and children to arrive then proceeded to stroll down the next aisle—three steps ahead of the cart.

I offered to help and the woman smiled, sharing that all was fine. Indeed, the children’s crying and fussing subsided quickly.

Our paths crossed again in numerous store aisles and my anger mounted in each instance. My internal self-talk was judgmental and in high gear: “What kind of man treats a woman like that?! How dare he treat her with such disrespect! What a *&%$@#! JERK!”

At the checkout, the woman placated the children while placing groceries on the conveyor belt. The man observed from the end of the counter—I was fuming.

After paying, I walked toward the exit and noticed the man, in the distance, slowly strolling in my direction as the woman loaded bags into the cart and juggled needs of the three little ones.

In leaving that scene behind, I felt relief as the exit doors slid open…that relief was short-lived.

I took about three steps beyond the sliding doors that closed automatically behind me.  My attention was immediately drawn to a tall, muscular, young man who was screeching profanities as he marched furiously toward the store, throwing punches to the air with clenched fists.

He was at the far side of the parking lot, and we were the only two outside the store. Within moments, he’d advanced to the middle of the parking lot and punched a car while screaming.

On suddenly taking an intuitive deep breath, I realized that I hadn’t budged since exiting the store! In that moment of unfreezing, I noticed that the angry young man was about two-car lengths away and on a path headed directly toward me.

Before I had time to react with fear, I heard a strong, calm whisper from behind, “Don’t worry, I’m here!” The strolling man gently placed his left hand protectively on my back as he anchored beside me to the right. He added, “Just look away; don’t look at him.”

Following those wise words, I breathed a sigh of relief when the screaming young man charged past us and entered the store.

As I turned and thanked the man, he said, through fear-filled eyes, “My wife and children are in there!”

He started to bolt toward the store entrance as his wife ran out with their three children and the cart filled with groceries. As he picked up the little girl and boy, the mother pulled the baby from the cart, and they all ran to their car, with the husband shielding his family to safety.

By that time, I’d reached my car and called 911. The police arrived immediately and took the young man to a hospital; fortunately, there was no incident in the store.

As I drove toward the parking lot exit, the man steered his car by mine—we smiled as we waved to each other.

We rarely have the full picture of a situation and never know how experiences will unfold until they do—I didn’t in the midst of fuming down the store aisles.

My “Being With” angel showed gentleness and kindness after I’d held him in judgment. This experience, which happened several years ago, continues to remind me of the importance of living in non-judgment.

What steps do you take in cultivating non-judgment?

Carolyn Hamilton-KubyCarolyn Hamilton-Kuby, PCC, CEC, is a coach and public speaker known for her vibrant spirit and calming presence. She’s the owner of Morningstar Leadership Development, a part-time business in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Carolyn holds a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University. She also graduated from St. Francis Xavier University (Diploma & Certificate in Adult Education and Diploma in Ministry) and St. Lawrence College (Certificate in Human Resources Management.) Carolyn is a Certified Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®.) She’s also a licensed trainer for Coaching Out of the Box® and an Official Partner of World Business Executive Coach Summit (WBECS). Carolyn invites you to visit her website at or connect with her on LinkedIn.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.