Georgia Coaches Association
Look at any number of business executives who have achieved significant success in their careers, and you're likely to find people who have relied on more than just their own instincts and training. Often, they're turning to the services of a professional coach to help them reach their goals and aspirations.
"Even Tiger Woods has a coach," notes Cathy Perry, marketing director of the Georgia Coaches Association. In 2005, the organization is marking its 10th year of providing support for professional coaches statewide, by helping establish a set of standards and ethics to govern the still-emerging profession.
Though still relatively new, professional coaching - which includes both executive coaching and life coaching, for those seeking help with goals outside their careers - has gained popularity in recent years, especially in the business world.
Corporations such as BellSouth, Goldman Sachs, IBM and Hewlett-Packard are well known for hiring coaches for their management level employees, and one study by the human resources consulting firm Hay Group estimated that between 25 and 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies use executive coaches.
"One of the trends I see in business is that coaching is becoming a competency for most leaders," says Kelly Jones, an Atlanta-based professional coach and co-president of the association, which counts about 200 members statewide.
"You'll see most leaders and top-level managers getting coaches, because of the competitive edge it gives the company."
The association works closely in tandem with the International Coaching Federation, a nationwide group that is helping to build a set of standards and ethics for the profession. "Since coaching as a profession is newer, the ICF is taking a stand on what the gold standard is as a coach," says Randy Brenneman, who serves with Jones as co-president.
As recently as 10 to 15 years ago, he adds, few colleges and universities offered coaching certification programs. Today, there are more than 20 such programs around the nation, offering ICF-accredited certification based on the number of hours participants spend both in class and in actual practice with
Community service is also a hallmark of the association, whose members often donate time to nonprofits like Cool Girls, CHRIS Kids and Rainbow Village. Andin February, the group will announce the winner of its first Prism Award, given to the company that demonstrates best how integrating executive coaching has helped it gain a competitive advantage and achieve better results.
"Part of our role is to broaden the understanding of what coaching is to the public," Jones says. "So we're excited about [the award] to help the public, especially the corporate environment, understand what coaching is about..."