"Curiosity makes the difference"

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What exactly is professional coaching?

In the early day of doing this job, I remember trying to explain what coaching is by what it is not. “It’s not therapy, it’s not counselling, it’s not consulting, it’s not psychology.” So, we had to develop a language to describe coaching.

Coaching is about helping people reach their fullest potential. It’s about individuals, it's about organisations, it's about systems. Coaching is for anybody who wants to be effective in whatever their career and their life might entail.

How did you end up running the International Coaching Federation?

It's an unusual journey, because, by training, I'm an economist. My undergraduate degree is in economics and my master’s degree is in international relations.

I worked for the US Federal Government for several years and then I moved to a not-for-profit sector and association sector. First, working for an organisation called the Council of State Governments, which represents all three branches of state government.

Then, a little over 17 years ago, I moved to the International Coaching Federation as assistant executive director. I served in that role for six years before becoming the CEO and fully immersing myself in association management as my professional career.

"Our tagline is ‘Empowering the world through coaching’ and that's what we do"
Magdalena Nowicka Mook

So why the move from Federal Government to the association sector?

The move was a lifestyle change. I was travelling a lot when we were based Washington, DC, and then we moved to Lexington, Kentucky because of my husband's work. So, it was even more travel.

What is the Federation’s mission and how do you help achieve that?

The organisation was created in 1995, so we’re still fairly young if you think about associations, especially in the US market. The organisation represents professional coaches, leadership executives and life coaches around the globe. We have around 60,000 members right now and they come from more than 160 countries.

Our mission is to advance professional coaching and to see coaching become an integral part of a thriving society.

Our tagline is ‘Empowering the world through coaching’ and that's what we do. We support professional coaches in their development. We offer professional credentials, we offer education, but we are also advocates on behalf of the coaching profession, doing a lot of research around the efficacy of coaching and their return on investment.

"They are big dreamers, the people who believe in positive change."
Magdalena Nowicka Mook

Tell me about ICF’s events…

Our flagship event, ‘Converge’ is held every other year. This year, it’s taking place in August, in Orlando, Florida, but previously we’ve held them in London, the Czech Republic and Canada, for example.

Converge brings together thought leaders, coaches, and organisations utilising coaching and we offer uplifting, inspirational and pragmatic information to our members and to people that are coming to this event.

Even before the pandemic, we ran this as a hybrid event because our membership is spread across 10 countries. Our regional chapters also offer tailored content to members in their area.

What do you love about your role?

The opportunity to work with amazing people.

They are big dreamers, the people who believe in positive change. They are people who are prolific authors, researchers, and teachers. It’s an extremely inspiring community and amazing to be part of the conversations that happen in that field.

It's inspiring and exciting to be surrounded by people who have big thoughts, great ambitions and aspirations.

Have you got any advice for budding association professionals?

Curiosity makes the difference. Don’t dismiss even the most unusual dream that you might have.

Who would think that an economist, born and raised in Poland, would run a global organisation of personal coaches?

So, be curious about what is possible and don’t close the door on yourself.