Business coaching, like much else in South Africa, was isolated from mainstream professional development due to international restrictions during the years of apartheid. Thus, it is only in about the last five years that coaching has sprung to prominence in South Africa.

However, as might be expected, many of the problems and inequalities from the past remain. In 1994, South Africa held its first democratic presidential election. Although Nelson Mandela—after 27 years of imprisonment—became president, the demographic imbalances created by 50 years of dictatorial white supremacy still hang heavily on the country. In this context, coaching in South Africa faces daunting challenges. At the same time, coaches have unique opportunities to significantly engage and intervene in the on-going process of transforming the country from a racial tyranny into a free, open and democratic society.

South Africa is a land of enormous diversity. Of the 11 official languages, the main ones include English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana and Sotho. The variety of languages reflects the country’s wide ethnic and cultural differences. Language can also represent a minefield of cultural and power politics, since it was used in the past to promote minority racial groups and suppress the majority. The white population, who are still the main beneficiaries of coaching, tend to be monolingual, or, at best, bilingual (English and Afrikaans). Africans, on the other hand, commonly speak not only English, but several African languages as well. The choice of language in professional settings is often viewed as a reflection of past power dynamics, and must be negotiated with sensitivity and tact.

In a country in which racial differences were the main driving force of daily life for so many years, it is inevitable that color still plays a major role in public discourse and personal sense of identity. This is a potent issue to which coaches must be highly sensitive, and they must learn to navigate these delicate waters with flexibility and skill.

Coaches in the developed world would probably be startled to discover how often, both in private conversation and in public debate, the issue of color predominates. The main identifiers are obviously “white” and “black.” But in South Africa, there is a third category, defined by a term that western societies would regard as offensive or unacceptable. “Colored” refers to mixed-race individuals, most of whom so define themselves. They are predominantly Afrikaans-speaking. These racialized categories are a source of personal, educational and business friction and misunderstandings. Thus, for coaches, there are minefields to negotiate when dealing with either personal or professional issues.

For me personally, this represents an unusual opportunity to be part of the changing landscape in a fledgling democracy. In other more privileged and wealthier societies, the coach probably does not encounter such raw personal hurts and structural imbalances; here, open and frank discussion is gradually dismantling them. In this sense, it is an exciting time to be a coach in South Africa, working with individuals and leaders at the cutting edge of this crucial transformation.

Multicultural and diversity issues

Difference—of gender, race, culture, language and education—creates huge challenges in any workplace. Emerging from its traumatically divisive past, South Africa is in the early stages of trying to work with these complexities and its own unique burden of history.

As currently practiced, coaching is viewed as a privilege far beyond the hopes of all but an elite few. This presents an ethical dilemma. Previously privileged executives are still the ones who benefit from all that coaching offers. The irony is that many who would also benefit are working in the same organizations, but as “previously disadvantaged” (i.e., black men and women), they may not yet qualify for coaching. Often they are not employed in sufficiently senior executive positions to qualify; with coaching they might be.

In South Africa, most organizations remain subject to male culture and assumptions. Corporate culture continues to be dominated by white male norms, language and behavior. Although women have made serious inroads through the glass ceiling and into the boardroom, most South African organizations still reflect the culture and values of a male point of view. Women face complex and difficult challenges in the workplace.

Ironically, one place where women are beginning to feel equality is in South Africa’s parliament, which is predominantly black and 50% female. However, women still face disempowering behavior and stereotypes from both female and male colleagues at work, regardless of their occupational field.

Research and development

Important academic research is underway in South Africa. A growing number of masters and doctoral students have recently completed, or are in the process of completing, current market research projects, and their papers are circulating worldwide.

Some of the difficulties in the marketplace stem from the lack of enough qualified, certified coaches to service the needs of small, medium and large organizations. Purchasers of coaching services demand measurable results, value for money, recognized accreditation, sustainable ethics, standards, and continuing professional development.

One development is the creation of the Coaches and Mentors Association (COMENSA), whose mission is to create an umbrella association in South Africa to provide for the regulation of local coaching, to develop the credibility and awareness of coaching as a profession, and to promote the effective empowerment of individual and organizational clients. One of the roles of COMENSA has been to build relationships and alliances between purchasers and providers of coaching services. This has encouraged collaboration across many different functional areas, such as the training and development of professional coaches.

A second area of development is inside organizations. Companies such as Standard Bank, Old Mutual, Woolworths, Netcare and Pick ‘n Pay are in the process of creating their own standards and competencies to regulate the hiring of external coaches, ensuring their  alignment with the specific ethics, standards and competencies of those organizations. These corporate bodies are also beginning to investigate the possibility of developing their own internal coaches.

A final development is the collaboration among business coaches themselves, who are forming alliances to offer coaching services to corporate executives and their teams.

Coach training and certification

Two key issues in South Africa today are the dearth of black coaches, plus a lingering perception that coaching is “exclusive” (i.e., not dissimilar to South Africa’s recent history under apartheid). On the other hand, there is a new range of quality coach training programs, both commercial and academic, which are often influenced or supported by international coach training programs. However, because the young, aspiring black managers are busy gaining their years of experience in the business world, many are not yet ready to step into the position of executive or business coach. They want to build their competence, expertise and credibility before tackling the task of coaching other aspirant leaders.

Another issue which has surfaced—and one of the underlying reasons for setting up an organization for coaches and mentors—is that any new profession attracts mavericks as well as pioneers. With the development of coaching as an identifiable, legitimate profession in South Africa, and with international support and pressure, some of the problems of unregulated and untrained coaches will begin to recede.

Challenges coaches face today

In South Africa four types of coaching have emerged: executive coaching, providing one-on-one services to leaders or senior management within organizations, entrepreneurial coaching, one-on-one coaching for entrepreneurs building their own businesses, management coaching as the primary way for managers to develop people and achieve results, and life coaching to support individuals wishing to make significant changes in their careers or personal lives.

The key challenge remains overcoming the legacy of apartheid. With such a diverse work force—in terms of language, race, culture and history—we still do not have enough black coaches working at senior management levels. Due to the country’s destructive history, this is only the second generation of skilled and “in demand” black business leaders. First generation business leaders were often forged in the anti-apartheid struggle.

Looking to the future

Business coaching in South Africa has a positive and powerful future. That bright future is attributable to the explosion of coaching inside organizations, the development of coach training programs, the inclusive, democratic process of COMENSA’s creation of ethical codes and standards of competence, the development of a supervisory framework, the collaboration of executive coaches, and the benefits of international partnership.

The coaching profession is still in its formative stages in South Africa, in the process of becoming a profession in its own right. Over the next few years, we will see increased regulation of coaches, with a demand for qualifications, specific standards and ethics, and recognized certification. There is an exponential explosion of coach training within the country, both academic and commercial/corporate.

Coaching is the trend of the moment. If it continues to develop at its current rate, conforming to internationally accepted standards, coaching will make a significant difference in helping to develop individuals, executives, their teams and their organizations. It will usher South Africa into the future with the very best of inclusive and transformational business practices.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Summer Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 2).

Sunny Stout Rostron, MA

Sunny Stout Rostron, MA, is an executive coach and the author of six books, including Accelerating Performance, Powerful Techniques to Develop People (2002). She is one of the founding members of the Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA).

As business, and business coaching, becomes more global, the impact of most business coaching approaches can be enhanced by giving more attention to the influence of culture.

In Coaching Across Cultures: New Tools for Leveraging National, Corporate and Professional Differences (Rosinski, 2003), I define coaching as “the art of unleashing people’s potential to reach meaningful, important objectives.” A cultural perspective in coaching can bring to the surface powerful issues and assumptions related to culture and mobilize them to unleash client potential and facilitate sustainable and positive change. The key approach is to value and explore differences rather than seeking to impose norms, values and beliefs. The coaching impact goes further than enhancing the company bottom-line. As coaches we have an opportunity to help foster the conditions of a better world.

I do not suggest that coaching from this perspective is superior or even the first perspective that one should take. However, I believe that it is a crucial perspective that has been given insufficient attention during the relatively short existence of the profession of coaching.

Groups of all kinds have cultures. Groups originate from various categories, including geography, religion, profession, organization, social life, gender, and sexual orientation. A group’s culture is the set of unique characteristics that distinguishes its members from another group. However, culture is not static — it evolves. Our individual identities are a synthesis of the cultures of the multiple groups to which we belong. On the surface level, culture concerns the language we use, our greetings, and our dress. Beneath the surface it can determine our thinking patterns and how we go about solving problems. It influences how our businesses are structured.

As coaches and executives we can use culture to unleash potential in many ways. We ignore the influence of culture at our peril because it influences thoughts, behaviors and emotions. It is pervasive, vastly underestimated, and can be a powerful force for positive change. We seek to unleash client potential by creating new ways of operating through drawing on many different approaches. We consider context, preferences, possibilities and consequences and come up with ways that work best for the client, within ethical boundaries.

A Practical Approach to Leveraging Cultural Differences

With a lever, you obtain a stronger force than the one you are exerting. Leveraging cultural differences means achieving more output with a given input. The input is human potential — individual or collective, in its rich cultural diversity. Through considering and leveraging alternative cultural orientations we can enlarge our views, our options and achieve synergy.

Although there is no set recipe to follow, I set out in Coaching Across Cultures a useful framework of The Global Coaching Process. Through this approach, coaches and clients can connect their personal voyages with those of their families, friends, work colleagues, organizations, communities and society in general. Different levels and layers of culture will interact and the ground will be uneven and shifting. In coaching conversations we aim to facilitate clarity by inviting an exploration of cultural influences. Clients can then leverage culture to unleash their potential and successfully pursue their goals. In this process we assist clients in finding new ways of operating that are meaningful and sustainable in their contexts.

The Cultural Orientations Framework (COF)
I have drawn together cross-cultural research on orientations across a range of human activities into the Cultural Orientations Framework (COF). One orientation is not right and others wrong. I invite clients to adopt an and approach, rather than an either/or.

The COF looks at seven categories. Here I give a brief example in each:

1. Our sense of power and responsibility;
There are three ways we can relate to the world in general, and more specifically to our businesses and our own careers. (1) We can seek to control. (2) We can be humble where we accept natural limitations. (3) We can also strive for harmony and balance with nature.

We encourage our clients to work with each of these. They can take responsibility for their lives, follow their dreams, and strive for excellence and advancement — a stance of control which can provide motivation and lead to positive self-fulfilling prophecies. At the same time, they can accept natural limitations of both themselves and their situations. Knowing one’s limits is not always obvious, but humbly accepting them is paradoxically within one’s control. Harmony is learning when to act and when to accept with humility what has occurred.

2. The way we manage time;
There are different cultural orientations to managing time. For example, many executives see time as a scarce resource. An alternative orientation is to view time as plentiful. For the client who sees time as scarce and gets caught in a daily flurry of activities without meaningful actions, we might discuss strategies for opening up opportunities for reflective thought — while at the same time making strategic use of their capacity for high-speed action. By viewing time in a plentiful fashion, the client may paradoxically appreciate the scarcity of time.

3. How we define our identity and purpose;
In defining identity and purpose, it is common for executives to refer to how much they do and achieve — a doing orientation. Another orientation is to stress living itself and the development of talents and relationships — a being orientation. For example, with clients whose preferences are for doing a lot at the expense of productive and meaningful relationships in the workplace, we may encourage them to try new strategies for building trusting, sustainable relationships. Not only can they then do more, but they may also receive the benefits of a richer personal and professional life.

4. The organizational arrangements we favor;
One way people differ on organizational arrangements is in the degree to which they are collaborative or competitive. In competitive cultures, the workplace is often the stage for a contest between individuals or work areas. The aim is to win. In collaborative cultures, the emphasis is more on working together. The European Union is an example of leveraging competition and collaboration. Countries strive to be the best. Governments regularly compare their performances with their neighbors’ to motivate performance – but there is also collaboration. Best practices are exchanged in all areas; science, engineering medicine, and so on.

5. Our notions of territory and boundaries;
In protective cultures, people are keen to protect their physical and mental territory. They like to keep their physical and psychological distance. In sharing cultures, people seek closeness and intimacy and in the workplace they freely discuss personal subjects as well as business matters. Clients who favor a protective approach can be encouraged towards a sharing orientation through greater self-disclosure. This can promote greater protection through establishing network relationships built on trust. The stronger network also builds productivity benefits.

6. The way we communicate;
There are many variations across cultures in how people communicate. For example, US business practice is typified by a direct communication style where the priority is to get one’s point across. In many Asian cultures, an indirect style is favored, where the priority is to maintain a cordial relationship. To leverage the two orientations, I suggest being clear and firm with the content while being careful and sensitive with the form. Some coaches hold bluntness as a virtue and will challenge clients directly as a sign of courage and honesty. This approach may well backfire across cultures. By holding to the substance but being sensitive on the process, coaches can leverage difference for the benefit of the client.

7. Our modes of thinking.
Much recent research has proven that there is a large variation between cultures on modes of thinking. For example, some cultures tend to favor analytical thinking. Analysis breaks a whole into parts and problems are solved through decomposition. In other cultures, systemic thinking is more common. Systemic or “holistic” thinking brings the parts together into a cohesive whole. Emphasis is on connections between the parts and on the entire system.

In the Global Coaching Process, I leverage the two forms for goal setting. Analytically, objectives are broken down into categories of self, family and friend, organization, community and the world. Systemically, interconnections between the categories indicate possible synergies, and the global perspective prevents losing sight of what is truly important.


Coaching from a cultural perspective helps unleash client potential by broadening perspectives and focusing on possibilities. A consideration of culture is a way of injecting additional passion, meaning, and variety into the coaching process by a holistic consideration of clients’ lives. My experience is that coaching from this perspective will help facilitate financial success in business for clients. In addition, when individuals accept the challenge of incorporating the cultural perspective, they take on a shared responsibility for better relationships, teams, organizations, communities, and global societies. The approach of genuinely respecting, valuing, and leveraging of difference is highly infectious. As carriers, our impact as coaches can reach well beyond the lives of our clients to truly make a better world.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Summer Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 2).

Philippe Rosinski, Ir, MS, MCC

Philippe Rosinski, Ir, MS, MCC is principal of Rosinski & Company, a global consulting firm that helps leaders, teams, and organizations unleash their human potential to achieve high performance. Philippe has written Coaching Across Cultures (Nicholas Brealey Publishing/Intercultural Press, 2003; Philippe may be reached by email at

Geoffrey Abbott

Geoffrey Abbott is an executive coach and consultant, and a researcher with the Faculty of Economics and Commerce at the Australian National University. Geoff is currently based in El Salvador, where he is coaching international executives and researching the effectiveness of executive coaching with expatriate managers.

How do we Executive Coaches and Organizational Consultants help our clients create the cultural conditions for sustainable high performance? We need to look no further than the powerful process of coaching. We already know that coaching assists individuals to grow and develop. Imagine what would happen if the entire organization were able to tap the power, ideas, and wisdom of its own members…through people learning how to deliver and respond to feedback in powerful and healthy ways.

What is the vision of a “coaching culture”?

A coaching culture is present when…all members of the culture fearlessly engage in candid, respectful coaching conversations, unrestricted by reporting relationships, about how they can improve their working relationships and individual and collective work performance. All have learned to value and effectively use feedback as a powerful learning tool to produce personal and professional development, high-trust working relationships, continually-improving job performance, and ever-increasing customer satisfaction.

How do we know we have one? It looks like this…

The 7 Characteristics of a Coaching Culture

  1. Leaders are Positive Role Models

    Organizational cultures take their cue from its leaders at the top. They set the tone, pace, and expectations for what is right and what is wrong — what is acceptable and what is not. When leaders become skilled coach-practitioners, they transform their leadership style from being THE BOSS OF PEOPLE to THE COACH FOR PEOPLE.

    Coaching is “applied leadership,” requiring the best of what we know about contemporary leadership. Leaders who master coaching learn to create powerful, emotionally-intelligent conversations where the coach guides productive change, passion, and inspired action.
  2. Every Member is Focused on Customer Feedback

    Most modern organizations have feedback channels that capture information from the customers they serve. This is not new. However, in a coaching culture, there is a huge emphasis on expanding these feedback channels and making them truly effective at what they’re capable of doing. It becomes the responsibility of every member in a coaching culture to proactively seek, strive to understand, and non-defensively respond to the feedback and the customer who is delivering it. Everyone understands the significance of their role as it relates to the mission of serving (internal or external) customers.
  3. Coaching Flows in all directions — Up, Down, and Laterally

    In a coaching culture, coaching flows in all directions from all parties, making a networked web across the organization consisting of many connections between people in the same departments, across departments, between teams, and up and down and across the hierarchy. The key to this rich flow of coaching communications is the establishment of explicit coaching relationships.

    We know that leaders and managers, when optimally effective, provide performance and developmental coaching for their direct reports. This is a necessary component of high-performance, yet, in itself, is not sufficient to create the true high-performance cultural conditions required in today’s businesses.

    Peer coaching is the second place for creating explicit coaching relationships. Coaching relationships across the organization are established to support ongoing dialogue, learning, problem solving, and enhanced working conditions.
    Peer coaching is an invaluable element that supports learning, growth, and productivity improvements.

    Upward coaching is the third element and often the most challenging to establish. There are many reasons why. The leader/manager may either be unaware or unwilling to receive upward feedback. The direct reports might not feel safe or that permission exists to offer candid feedback even though they would like to be able to deliver it. For whatever reason, the nature of the relationship must dramatically transform if feedback is to flow freely between a manager and direct reports. Becoming coaches for one another makes this shift by creating safety, trust, respect, and rapport in the relationship.
  4. Teams Become Passionate and Energized

    The process of coaching, when learned by teams, creates egalitarian, high-trust relationships that transcend traditional Boss/Subordinate/Competitor dynamics, and moves people toward a collaborative Coach/Coachee/Partner relationship.

    In high performance cultures, people feel part of the larger whole. This enhanced feeling of connection occurs because teams make a point of opening up dialogue to explore how they are working together. Teams focus on creating connection and high trust. Trust directly supports people being able to work together more effectively and more efficiently which leads to higher performance.

    The relationships that teams create in a coaching culture can be characterized by a high degree of commitment to teammates’ success. Internal competition for the spotlight, job promotions, and accolades from top management do not become destructive. The fundamental belief is that all members of the team work for the same company. They are part of the same team. Everybody is in the same big boat together and pulls her own weight and is accountable for their contribution to team performance. They accept this truth: we can’t win unless everyone wins. My job is to make my teammates successful.
  5. Learning Occurs, More Effective Decisions are Made, & Change Moves Faster

    Coaching speeds up the personal and team learning curve by capturing lessons learned more quickly. Teams make frequent use of after-action-reviews to document any and all lessons learned. People become anxious to tap and share wisdom across the team. People learn to fail fast without fear of repercussion in what is truly a learning environment.

    In a coaching culture, it is common practice to involve everybody affected by the change in the decision to make the change, and certainly in the implementation planning. Coaching is the act of engaging people in safe dialogue where they are expected to respectfully share their candid concerns, ideas, and points-of-view so that they experience feeling part of the process and being valued as a partner.
  6. HR Systems are Aligned and Fully Integrated

    Human resource systems are comprised of talent acquisition, orientation, training, performance evaluation, promotions, recognition programs, and compensation. Coaching must be fully integrated into all the systems that impact people.

    Most organizations today have articulated organizational values that hang on the boardroom wall. Coaching cultures actively embrace and use their espoused core values as a compass to guide people and business decisions. Members of the culture are expected to observe and coach their colleagues on the extent their colleagues’ observed behaviors are congruent with the core values and guiding behaviors. This makes values relevant, useful, and meaningful to the organization.

    Coaching cultures use 360 processes to gather feedback on a regular basis. All members of the culture have personal development plans that are taken seriously, reviewed annually, and serve to significantly impact the effectiveness of individuals and teams.

    Job descriptions include a clear description of relevant coaching skills required to be successful in the job. Everyone is expected to perceive themselves as a “coach practitioner” engaged in continuous learning about what it means to be a coach.
  7. The Organization Has a Common Coaching Practice and Language

    We define coaching as “the process of helping others enhance their effectiveness…in a way they feel helped.” This comprehensive definition of coaching reflects the intention of the coach as well as offers guidance in how to organize and conduct the coaching conversation. Coaching cultures adopt a singular approach and methodology so the culture has an easily recognized, commonly understood approach. Why is this important?

    If an entire culture has a shared understanding of HOW to coach, then the coaching conversations are more easily started and sustained between people. The mystery is removed. People can connect easily and communicate with fewer distractions, making the communication much more effective. This increases the likelihood that more people will start getting more of what they want, and less of what they do not want.

The Emerging Results

Organizations have seen the powerful impact on the effectiveness of Executives who retain external Executive or utilize internal Business Coaches. They are also beginning to connect-the-dots and extrapolate the incredible power of an organization whose capacity for growth and change is enhanced through the systematic practice of coaching.

Crane Consulting is actively engaged with several leading organizations that are focused on creating their own coaching culture. We see this work as the nexus of BOTH continuing external coaching with Executives AND showing their organizations how to coach one another. Rather than reduce or eliminate the role of Executive Coaches, this transformational organizational work actually provides Executive Coaches more to work with their executive clients on…how THEY become coaches for the teams they have the privilege of leading!

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Premier Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 1).

Thomas Crane, M.B.A.

Thomas Crane, M.B.A., is an experienced OD consultant, coach, author, and speaker who specializes in working with leaders and their teams to build “feedback-rich coaching cultures” that create and sustain true “high-performance.” His book, The Heart of Coaching, is published by FTA Press, San Diego, CA. His next book, “Creating Coaching Cultures — The Next Wave” will be available in the fall of 2005. Read more about Tom’s work at

Choose Your WABC Accredited® Level

We offer four WABC Accredited levels for maximum impact. WABC Accredited signifies that your offering is among the world’s most elite and rigorous business coaching training programs. For those seeking training that readies them for real-world business challenges, no other program distinction compares.


Four WABC Accredited® Levels for Maximum Impact

WABC knows that business coaching training must meet the rapidly changing demands facing businesses and organizations of all kinds around the world. To meet this need, WABC offers program accreditation at four levels.

The four WABC Accredited levels cover the full breadth and depth of development and professional offering in business coaching—practitioner, advanced, master and elite.

To earn any of the four levels, programs must be delivered at a professional level of engagement and must meet our professional standards and rigorous assessment process.

WABC Accredited is only available to training programs that offer business coaching as the main focus of their curriculum. This means over 75% of the learning hours within the program must be focused on the practice, theory and/or research of business coaching.

We accept applications from trainers who offer either: 

  • External programs that operate an open recruitment policy, welcoming all appropriately experienced participants, or
  • Internal programs where participants are drawn only from within a specific organization.

Even if your program is brand new, or requires significant changes to meet WABC’s standards, you may still be eligible to register in our WABC program accreditation process.

Every applicant program must:

  • Aspire to standards and aspirations for excellence as exemplified in all of WABC’s evidence-based standards, and
  • Meet the assessment criteria specified by WABC.

Four Levels for Real-World Business Needs

Level 1

WABC Accredited
(Level 1 – RCC)®

Level 1 programs develop practitioner business coaches. Such programs focus on the practical elements of business coaching for participants with limited previous experience in formal focused coaching skills training, or with some experience that they wish to consolidate fully with best practice.

Level 2

WABC Accredited
(Level 2 – CBC)®

Level 2 programs develop advanced business coaches. Such programs focus on consolidating technical skills and also encouraging the development of a sound theoretical underpinning to enable their participants to provide a full professional scope of practice and to work to more diverse agendas.

Level 3

WABC Accredited
(Level 3 – CMBC)®

Level 3 programs develop master business coaches who may also choose to specialize. Such programs fully explore, and provide critical engagement with, current approaches, methodologies and theories underpinning the work of business coaches to enable their participants to work to an open agenda that may have a more indirect impact on business outcomes.

Level 4

WABC Accredited
(Level 4 – ChBC)®

Level 4 programs develop elite business coaches who represent the highest level of professional practice. Such programs provide an in-depth process that facilitates an intensive examination based on advanced robust methodologies to enable their participants to demonstrate their senior expertise in operating at this level.

How WABC Accredited® Delivers Leading Results

Prepare business coaches, leaders or other professionals to solve practical, real-world business challenges and drive new opportunities with the WABC Accredited® global mark, a program accreditation distinction that ensures you’re offering the most comprehensive and robust business coaching training available in the world.


Business Success Requires Quality Business Coaching

The global business landscape is evolving at an accelerating pace. The demand for confident, competent leadership and ethical, sustainable business models has never been more pressing and necessary for success.

As a discipline that challenges leaders, teams and individuals to think more critically about clarifying and activating their strategy, business coaching is essential to sustaining organizational achievement.

As a powerful intervention, business coaching is a discipline harnessed by tens of thousands of organizations and businesses worldwide, including many Fortune 500 leaders.

It’s no wonder that such a wide array of business coach training programs are available worldwide, whether through internal corporate solutions, or through open programs offered by universities and training institutions. With such strong market growth, there’s a clear demand and abundance of choice.

Yet the global community of business coaching stakeholders—coaches themselves, their trainers, those thinking about becoming a business coach or the organizations interested in applying their skills—must discern the quality of the training they seek and they put into practice every day.

As an unregulated industry, the challenge is a lack of clarity and consistency on what defines excellence in business coaching. WABC has met this challenge through rigorous self-regulatory initiatives focused on raising the quality, credibility and profile of business coaching worldwide.


WABC Accredited Represents the Highest Quality Business Coaching Training in the World

As the leader since 1997, WABC leads the business coaching industry in identifying the qualities, actions and skills of the effective business coach.

Our insights have allowed us to deeply understand the link between the quality of an individual business coach’s training and the quality of business coaching services they can deliver.

The WABC Accredited global mark was developed in direct response to this crucial need for clarity, reliable standards and quality service delivery within the industry.

As a program accreditation distinction, WABC Accredited:

  • Sets global evidence-based standards for business coaching training providers and clearly identifies these standards for buyers of business coaching training,
  • Provides an independent, robust, transparent assessment process that recognizes excellence in training provision,
  • Promotes high-caliber professional development for the benefit of business coaches, and
  • Contributes to the definition, development and self-regulation of the business coaching profession.

We Help You Offer Evidence-based Training Rooted in Real-world Organizational & Business Needs

WABC Accredited programs equip individuals with the evidence-based competencies that leaders, organizations, individuals and teams need to realize their potential, backed by the latest theoretical and practical knowledge designed to deliver results.


The Route to Earning WABC Accredited Equips Your Program for Success

For training programs dedicated to offering the best training and education in business coaching, the route to achieve the WABC Accredited mark is through our WABC program accreditation process.

Our process optimizes your program for success by ensuring your training is grounded in the business coaching best practices shaping the industry today.

Whether you represent an open enrollment program offered by a training provider, university or educational institution, or you represent an internal business coaching training program offered by a corporation, business or other type of organization, the depth and breadth of our program accreditation process ensures your program is built on research-informed best practice.

You’ll learn much more about our program accreditation process when you explore all our WABC Accredited levels.


Fewer than 1% of the world’s business coaching programs have met our standard of accreditation


Invest in Your Continued
Success with WABC Accredited

WABC’s rigorous program accreditation process engages successful providers in a continuous lifecycle—from initial accreditation to annual monitoring to re-accreditation every five years to ensure they deliver the highest, most relevant training to business coaches today and tomorrow.

The WABC Accredited mark means:


Position Your Program at the Top of the Field

WABC Accredited is a testament to the excellence of your program and sets you apart from other training providers. Participants know that WABC prepares them for the practical challenges of business coaching in organizational and business-specific settings.

Because it is based on best practice for both business coaching and program accreditation processes, WABC Accredited broadcasts your program meets the highest global standards and is specifically tailored to business coaching, not coaching in general.


Deliver Relevant Professional Development for Every Career Stage

Whether your training is available to the open market or to employees within your organization, effective business coaching training can transform how people perform their role, no matter their career stage or level of seniority.

With four levels of accreditation to suit your needs, you’ll be able to build a relevant program that brings out the best in your participants.


Gain Independent, Professional Recognition

WABC Accredited applications are evaluated by fully qualified, independent assessors. They assess the competencies your program addresses and the quality systems it adheres to, ensuring your training meets WABC’s robust criteria.

Our transparent program accreditation process also offers providers access to fully qualified, independent advisers who provide personalized advisory support and feedback designed to make you think more critically, creatively and strategically about your program offer.


Prepare Your Graduates for Continued Professional Development

Earning WABC Accredited for your program means your graduates are eligible to receive their own individual WABC credential, a distinction available to graduates of WABC Accredited programs.

WABC credentials signal that your graduates are equipped with the evidence-based knowledge and skills to solve real-world organizational challenges and deliver excellence in business coaching.


Extend Your Reach and Demonstrate You’re Accredited By the Best

Carrying the WABC Accredited distinction means you get to build your program’s brand with the support of a global organization committed to excellence.

You will gain the right to leverage the WABC Accredited brand in your marketing, program and training materials.

You will also have access to exclusive opportunities with WABC to build your thought leadership profile, promote your services and access a global community of business coaches and clients.


Build Global Business Coaching Knowledge

The WABC program accreditation process includes demonstrating the success of your program’s standards, approaches and learning models.

By sharing this information with WABC, you build the global body of knowledge about business coaching as an evolving, innovative practice.

Your program accreditation shapes business coaching practice, development and self-regulation around the world, to create even greater efficacy and impacts.


Enhance Your Program with Research-Informed Best Practice

The program accreditation process leading to the WABC Accredited mark enables you to learn an enormous amount about effective business coaching, as your curriculum is measured against WABC’s expansive, detailed knowledge base.

Fine-tune your program for success with helpful, personalized feedback during the accreditation process, so you can offer best-in-class training built on research informed standards and best practice in business coaching and training alike.


Expand Our Global Community of Like-Minded Colleagues

Earning WABC Accredited for your program also means your program participants and graduates can also enjoy being part of WABC’s membership community, where they can expand their thinking with access to cutting edge knowledge and build their professional network with like-minded colleagues across the globe.


Leading Organizations Know Business Coaching is Essential

Prepare business coaches, leaders or other professionals to solve practical, real world business challenges and drive new opportunities with the WABC Accredited® global mark, a program accreditation distinction that ensures you’re offering the most comprehensive and robust business coaching training available in the world.


Take Your Open Enrollment Program to the Next Level with WABC Accredited

Whether you are a business coach trainer, a coaching organization, or an institution solidifying your existing offering, building a new program or looking to offer your participants a premium business coaching training experience, WABC Accredited distinguishes you apart from the competition.


Raise Your Program’s Value

Having your program WABC Accredited® means that your graduates are eligible to receive their own individual credential from WABC. This is an exceptional professional development opportunity that will help raise your value as a trainer.


Demonstrate Your Credibility

Gain credibility that demonstrates your training is rooted in research-informed best practice. Align your program with a globally recognized distinction, and equip yourself with the confidence of knowledge and expertise from an established association, backed by research.


Uphold Business Coaching Excellence

Align with the global standard for standards, skills and competencies that ensures continued business coaching success. Build your reputation with a specialized program accreditation, designed for business coaches, leaders, managers, directors and teams practicing in business and organizational applications.

Signify that your program is rooted in evidence-informed best practice and robust research, and incorporate thinking from adjacent disciplines, such as neuroscience and psychology, to complement your programs.


Enhance Your Internal Program’s Relevance with WABC Accredited

Offering a WABC Accredited internal training program builds an engine of business coaches, leaders and other employees that are dedicated to the continued success of your people, your strategies and your performance as an organization.

By supporting your leaders, managers, directors and teams with the knowledge and skills to better identify opportunities, unblock challenges, and work together towards shared objectives and priorities, there’s no limit to how far your organization can go.


Raise Your Value as an Employer

Having your program WABC Accredited means that your leaders and employees are able to access high-quality training from you and receive their own individual credential from WABC. Taken together, this is an exceptional professional development opportunity that will help raise your value as an employer.


Set a Vision for Success

Clarify your leadership purpose and vision, and engage employees more effectively in achieving your priorities. Establish strategic destinations that strengthen your organization’s alignment and integrate diverse stakeholder and market requirements. Build trust and loyalty with teams and clients more quickly by improving your relationship building and persuasive skills.


Lead with Clarity and Trust

Guide your team with clarity and communicate strategic intent to create clearer project asks. Build more trusted relationships with colleagues and reports alike, built on sound advice and authentic leadership. Develop strategic roadmaps and benchmarks that address challenges realistically, to ensure your team can reach them.


Build a Cohesive and Sustainable Coaching Culture

Foster a positive work environment that outlines clear expectations and drives more focused mindsets. Build a culture of support, respect and collaboration that is aligned with your core values, expertise and business objectives. Unify teams with diverse perspectives and attract and retain top performers. Operate with integrity and discretion to drive trust across your organization.


Engage Your Team’s Collaborative Spirit

Fully engage team members to drive top performance and innovation. Improve each individual’s level of confidence, emotional intelligence and communication skills to motivate collaboration and accountability. Equip your teams with the empathy skills needed to build relationships with diverse stakeholders across the organization.


Improve Loyalty and Trust

Build customer experiences that are distinct and increase loyalty and reputation in the market. Enhance your service by building a culture focused on active listening, effective communication and customer satisfaction.


In Their Own Words


Enhance Your Program with
WABC Expertise

WABC builds excellence at every level of business coaching. From creating robust evidence-informed standards to ensuring that program providers offer exceptional business coaching training, we continually find new ways to support business coaching achievement. Take the next step to build a better training program.

Recommend WABC to Your Employer

Are you a champion of business coaching within your organization and want to introduce WABC to your employer to see what’s possible?

Whether your organization has a business coaching program or is interested in building one, WABC accredits in-house programs to ensure that your employees are trained to coach using the latest research-informed best practice and global standards.

Discover More about WABC Accredited

With WABC, program providers can expect a program accreditation process unlike any other in the coaching industry.

In fact, the path to earn the WABC Accredited mark is an important professional and business developmental opportunity in its own right. By design, you will move through our process of progressive stages and steps that enable you to showcase your program offering for evaluation.

Consult with WABC to Create Best-in-Class Programs

Many training providers and organizations want to enhance their credibility and build WABC Accredited programs that drive tangible business results, but aren’t sure where to start.

WABC helps providers develop WABC Accredited training programs, and offers a range of consulting and business services to identify opportunities and improve coaching within organizations.

The Value of Business Coaching for Organizations

Organizations and businesses of all kinds have new challenges to face in our quickly changing global environments. Success today requires advancing on many fronts simultaneously, including facing new industry entrants and disruptors, adapting to customer demands, competing to attract and retain top talent, and establishing clarity of vision through tumultuous times. Leading organizations know business coaching is essential to support the alignment between organizational goals and the leaders, teams and individuals responsible for driving their success.


Achieve Success and Adapt to Complexity More Seamlessly

Organizations have new challenges to face in our quickly changing global environments. Success today requires advancing on many fronts simultaneously, including facing new industry entrants and disruptors, adapting to customer demands, competing to attract and retain top talent, and establishing clarity of vision through tumultuous times.

As these challenges grow increasingly intertwined, traditional siloed thinking lacks the relevance to operate effectively in this new context. It takes enduring commitment to continuously focus on the right business initiatives at the right time, find the precise balance of objectives, resources and timing, and build transparency and accountability at all levels of an organization to realize sustained success.

This shift requires new knowledge and skills. Developing a learning mindset, building resilience and adopting adaptability are key to driving growth, innovation and peak performance from leaders, teams and individuals alike. Achieving organizational goals requires alignment and accountability at every level of an organization.

As organizations rise to meet these demands and realize their strategic intents, business coaching can support the alignment between organizational goals and the leaders, teams and individuals responsible for driving their success.


Business Coaching Drives Enhanced Performance and Stronger Business Results

Business coaching impacts individuals, teams and the organizations they work within. A business coach will leverage their expertise to build on the current state of both the organization and the individuals within it, to enhance performance and leadership potential. It is a role that is, by nature, supportive, disruptive and progressive.


Business Coaching is Distinct

Business coaching is distinct in that it addresses the needs of both the individual and the organization they work within. This distinction makes business coaching a unique discipline within the world of coaching more broadly. Business coaches can go by many names—including executive coach, organizational coach, leadership coach, or corporate coach—yet each one focuses on the shared business goals and objectives of both the client and the organization. This dual focus separates business coaching as a distinct practice from all other kinds of coaching.

Business coaches support organizational goals and objectives, at an individual or team level, by identifying opportunities and supporting clients in their actions to achieve results. The business coach’s role can take on many forms—it can be supportive, disruptive and progressive to encourage insights, development, change and growth.

Business coaching is industry agnostic, meaning the competencies of an effective business coach can be applied to any sectors or industries. Some business coaches may choose to specialize and offer their services in a particular industry. This is especially true with WABC business coaches, as they are required to have business and organizational experience before earning their WABC credentials.

Business Coaches Can Help

All Organizations, Roles, Levels & Industries


Enhance Your Organization’s Diverse Strengths

Business coaches are strategic partners who build your business and operational success. Among the broad array of service offerings, business coaches may help:

Navigate the toughest challenges in organizational leadership

Streamline business processes and systems

Rejuvenate business growth

Improve morale

Build interpersonal competencies

Direct and support organizational change

Prioritize goals and develop strategies to achieve objectives within set timeframes

Collaborate to create and execute personal/business development plans

Enhance organizational capabilities

Deliver feedback

Develop skills and knowledge base

Conduct needs analyses

Deal with conflict

Develop and interpret performance assessments


Business Coaches Create More
Effective Businesses and Organizations

Business coaching engagements can be initiated for many reasons—ultimately, the goal is to remove roadblocks or challenges or to stimulate new insights or pathways so a business, company or organization can achieve its full potential and sustain or grow its market position.

Business coaching helps leaders, individuals and teams respond more effectively to change and accept greater accountability. It is often used to help high-performers reach even greater success as they engage with new opportunities for growth, at both a professional and organizational level.


Common Challenges That Business Coaches Can Address

WABC Advantage

Where Business Becomes Better

The Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC) leads the business coaching industry in identifying the qualities, actions and skills you need to drive leading business outcomes and harness emerging opportunities.

As the industry leader since 1997, WABC has elevated business coaching practices worldwide and helped countless coaches, clients and companies successfully navigate complexity and achieve tangible business results.

Our global community spans more than 125 countries, and includes business coaches who work with entrepreneurs, managers, CEOs, presidents and professionals from all industries, all sectors, and all organizational sizes.


Accelerate Transformation Through
Business Coaching


Amplify Client and Team Relationships

Enhance your customer service experience and build trust and loyalty with clients. Business coaching can help improve relationships and align individuals’ actions more closely with performance goals.

Drive performance with your team by strengthening internal engagement to drive greater innovation and more insightful decision-making. Improve the confidence, emotional intelligence and communication skills to motivate team members towards better performance.


Build Change for Good

Improve your organization’s ability to more effectively deliver on your mission to the communities you serve. Boost creativity, innovation and accountability for your programs, and more clearly articulate the need in ways that resonate with the public.

Increase the efficacy of your program delivery by thinking more strategically and spotting opportunities that drive greater results. Build support more effectively, both within your organization and with external partners and stakeholders.

For Professional Services

Guides Clients with Strategic Intent

Gather the right information from clients by asking more insightful questions and tailoring your approach more effectively. Guide your clients towards clarity by offering clear, strategic intent.

Build trusted partnerships founded on advice, authenticity and a sense of being in your client’s corner. Enhance your strategic deliverables with solutions that address clients’ challenges realistically and effectively.


Unlock Organizational Transformation

Strengthen the ability to identify client needs and get to the root cause of operational challenges more effectively. Gain a wider strategic view on how technology infrastructure supports business and operational strategy.

Build organizational roadmaps that take into account the diverse requirements across departments. Equip teams with the relationship-building skills and empathy needed to drive stakeholder satisfaction.

For Utilities

Foster a Safer, More Productive Culture

Increase employee focus by fostering a positive working environment through setting clear expectations of organizational priorities and safety. Align business objectives and team priorities more closely by equipping leaders with the skills to manage their teams more effectively.

Improve your customer service experience with increased loyalty and customer satisfaction. Build a supportive and respectful culture that takes into account the importance of a team member’s overall wellbeing, including their mental health.

Your Next Steps

Drive Organizational
Achievement with WABC

Business coaching offers many ways to achieve your business objectives and build a business coaching culture within your organization. Take the next step towards achieving sustainable performance improvement with WABC.

Hire a Qualified Business Coach

Search the WABC Business Coach Locator to find your qualified coaching partner in accelerating your professional or organizational achievement.

Recommend WABC to Your Employer

Are you a champion of business coaching within your organization and want to introduce WABC to your employer to see what’s possible?

Whether your organization has a business coaching program or is interested in building one, WABC accredits in-house programs to ensure that your employees are trained to coach using the latest research-informed best practice and global standards.

Consult with WABC to Build Operational Excellence

Many organizations see the value in using business coaching to unlock the potential within their organization, but don’t know where to start.

WABC offers a range of consulting and business services to identify opportunities and improve business coaching within organizations.