Looking to enrich your professional communication skills? Maybe you are thinking of a career change and would like to do something with people. A life or career coach assists people in making choices about how to improve their personal and professional lives. Some people choose to hire a coach to help them define, set and achieve goals; their goal will be to motivate, encourage and keep you on track toward achieving your goals. Coaches are also hired by corporate firms and individual business executives to help them improve their professional and personal skills. The field is quite wide-ranging and coaches have the opportunity to conduct their practice in a way that not only fits their personality, but also the personalities of their clients.
In Prague, the Academy of Coaching Excellence is the only program accredited by the two largest international coaching institutions, the International Coaching Federation and the European Mentoring and Coaching Council. As ACE Project Manager Petr Janeček says, this is a bonus for clients as when they graduate they are able to apply for individual accreditations at both institutions.
“ACE provides training and workshops on coaching and leadership skills,” he said. “Our practitioner training last 6-8 months and participants graduate with international certifications as well as a certification from the Czech education ministry and can begin work as a coach.”
ACE was founded by Norbert Riethof, who has been involved with coaching for 15 years. He said when he decided to launch his company Coaching Systems back in 2003; he was at a point where he thought it would be interesting to develop other coaches.
“I wanted to see if our approach was something other people could use,” he explained. “I was also active in EMCC and really liked their approach to developing coaches. They don’t use a specific school but create a platform on which you can invent, get feedback on your own unique coaching style. Working with people I’ve found there are different ways for coaches to communicate and I wanted to make it specific, but open so they could try out their own way of coaching.”
ACE’s program is unique in that it provides participants with background on different coaching schools of thought; they pick what works for their clients and create their own coaching style. The company also offers specialized 2-day workshops on specific schools such as Gestalt and Transformational coaching styles. ACE developed out of Riethof’s original company in 2011 and has since graduated 80 coaches.
“Our typical client is manager who’s not happy with their leadership style and wants to fid other ways to motivate their staff as well as people who are thing about becoming a professional coach,” Riethof said. “Secondary are people who are interested in coaching as a method for working with people; consultants, psychologists, teachers, journalists, people who work in NGOs.”
Riethof explains that this variety of people works very well for the group’s learning.
“They have the opportunity to meet people not like themselves and who they typically wouldn’t meet,” he said. “In the beginning we go very deep into self-awareness, self-understanding and it’s interesting to get lots of feedback from different people with their different perspectives.” He adds that the typically small groups of around ten people are led by three senior coaches who each present a different approach to coaching. Participants absorb and utilize the richness and differences of all the experiences.
ACE has a number of interesting additions for 2014, including adding so-called Supervision Sessions to the curriculum whereby more senior coaches sit with junior coaches and discuss their clients and cases to develop their coaching styles. They are looking to add courses in advanced training for participants to become eligible to earn senior or master practitioner status through EMCC and they are hoping to strengthen the community around the academy so coaches feel supported. Negotiations to expand outside the Czech Republic have also started and Team Coaching will soon be offered.
Riethof is co-writing a book on the subject to be published in the autumn of 2014. He says they have seen an increasing demand for it from people and for consultants that know how to do it.
Riethof got into coaching after attending a course entitled ‘developing performance coaching’ while studying psychology and said the idea of developing people through dialogue just clicked.
“It’s an element of my personality, I really like the freedom of a coaching dialogue, it’s a co-creation of looking at situations and exploring possibilities and finding a way forward versus a structured approach or agenda,” he said “It is open and at the same time very effective because it’s individualized and based on transferring responsibility on to the coachee. It’s helpful to others by developing their strengths and enabling them to see the wider context.”