International Coach Federation – Growing With a Local Presence

Globalisation can bring your association many benefits, the first and most obvious being getting access to a much larger base of members and partipants for your events. If your services are proven added values, you can enjoy increased revenues while at the same time helping an exponentially greater number of people find the answers to the questions or challenges your association helps solve, this way improving your reputation. Thanks to our special partnership with the Global Association Hubs Partnership (GAHP), Boardroom talked to Magdalena N. Mook, CEO of the International Coach Federation (ICF), who explained all about the organisation’s growth strategy. 

Can you introduce ICF to our readers? What are its mission and vision? 

As a federation gathering professional coaches, ICF helps people and organizations truly reach their full potential so they can contribute to a thriving society. We are changing lives, day after day, person by person, organisation by organisation. Our mission is to advance the art and science of professional coaching. And our mission is to see coaching being integral part of the society, and – naturally – ICF coaches representing the highest quality in professional coaching. Established in 1995, ICF is now a proud home to over 32,000 professional coaches around the globe.

What are your growth objectives and how are your plans to achieve them?

We are very happy that we have members in over 140 countries right now! We started small and then big – but just in North America at the very beginning. The growth in all other areas of the world has been phenomenal. Our ultimate goal is to help everybody gain access to a professional coach or to somebody who can offer coaching skills. The sky is the limit, really: we keep adding close to a thousand of new members every month.

To sum it up, we do two things. Externally, we promote coaching to general public and also do some targeted outreach to organisations and institutions. Internally, we offer education, tools, practice, credentials and community to our professional coach members so they can be well prepared and very confident in offering their services to their clients. These two dimensions seem to be working well.

You’re an international organisation and your reach is global. Were there any obstacles as you expanded?

Becoming global does not happen overnight. Even when you have members in multiple countries, it does not mean your organisation is global. It took us several conscious steps to “get there”. First, we made sure that our board of directors reflects our global make-up. Then, we evaluated our products and services to ensure that they are equally accessible around the globe. And then, we reviewed our language policies so we could access our members in their native tongues – coaching is such a personal relationship, after all. We conduct lots of research about coaching marketplace around the world. It helps us to adjust our messages and services, depending on the market.

There is no question that we are part of a larger global community and every day associations are looking for ways to take advantage of this globalization to grow.Getting global means having a better visibility towards your community and enhancing your presence in geographical area that you might have never thought about before. This way, you can assert your position as a leader in your field.

As an international federation, you have a lot of chapters. What are the challenges and opportunities for growing internationally? What are the synergies between the chapters and the ‘mother organisation’?

Chapters are truly our blood-line in the organisation. For so many of our members, the chapter is the lens that they perceive ICF – that’s their reality. So chapters are crucially important to our system. They play a significant role in retaining members and recruiting them. We put a lot of effort to support initiatives to create a chapter, our staff is working with members on the ground to see this happen.

And then we invest heavily in equipping our leaders with tools to make them successful in running a chapter – that being an education about association management; financial management; governance or even how to best access everything we, as the headquarters, have to offer. Four years ago our Board made a brilliant decision to support an annual gathering of all of our chapter leaders. This amazing event, typically lasting three days, brings us together to remind all of us about the “why” of ICF and coaching and then to help improve the “how” of the execution.

This interview was conducted by Boardroom Chief Editor Rémi Dévé. The full version of this article is available in the November 2018 issue of Boardroom available here.

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