The Upside of the Downside: How ICF Coaches Lead the Way
I came across this new term the other day and it just leapt from the page as an apt description of my emotional ups and downs over the past two months coming to terms with life and work during a pandemic. Feelings of fear, anger, blame, uncertainty, worry, frustration and demotivation have mixed randomly with moments of joy, connection, inspiration, relief and hope.
While I do not wish to minimize the risks, losses and fall-out from COVID-19, I need to acknowledge the upside to this downside, especially in the wake of this year’s International Coaching Week. ICW and our first ever International Coaching Day was a massive virtual success. ICF Chapters and Members embraced the challenge and created new and innovative ways to manifest the gift of coaching around the world. We say a huge thank you to all who participated so readily and gave your time, energy and expertise.
Here are three key upsides about our profession that the pandemic has brought into sharp focus for me:
1. Coaches as Connectors
Our “We Care” message and approach kicked in immediately. Chapters moved online almost overnight to offer support and connection to members. I attended ICF UAE’s first online social event and found it so helpful to simply share feelings and reactions with other coaches. Other ICF Chapters are hosting similar opportunities, including ICF New York City’s Virtual Coach Cafes and Town Hall, ICF South Florida’s Coach-A-Latte, and ICF North Texas’ Virtual Happy Hours. ICF United Kingdom offers weekly mindfulness sessions. Just holding space for each other where we can show our own vulnerability is healing right now.
2. Coaches as Agile Responders
As a profession I am impressed with our speed of response: Initiatives that under normal circumstances would take months of planning have been delivered in a matter of weeks. Our annual Global Leaders Forum, a training and networking event for ICF Chapter Leaders, is a great example. Our amazing ICF staff transformed what was to be a 2½-day in-person event to an amazing interactive and inclusive virtual event within weeks. Our Chapter Leaders have fully engaged with the new format and it has been a personal high point to interact with so many truly committed ICF volunteers from around the world. Other agile responses include ICF North Florida’s Coaches Gathering, an inspiring development intervention for coaches and by coaches during a time of massive change and disruption. ICF’s new Coaches for Good pilot initiative that has just launched will see experienced coaches partner for free with communities and industries that need our help right now.
3. Coaches as Ecosystem Builders
“No man”—or woman—is an island.”
The famous John Donne quote captures how our profession is part of a complex, interconnected system. ICF Chapters and coaches are partnering with their wider community to create more and deeper impact. Initiatives like ICF Ireland’s #calminourcommunity offer practical weekly outreach to the wider society and businesses during the crisis. ICF coaches around the world have developed platforms and are offering pro bono coaching for front-line health workers in Egypt, Greece, Ireland, Saudi Arabia and UAE, to name a few. ICF Brazil is partnering with business schools to create value and awareness of our profession and ICF in the business world—a great combination of business, academia and coaching systems.
How will coaching and coaches emerge from the pandemic? I believe that with our signature strengths of connection, agile response and ecosystem-building we can create new value, innovate our offerings, build stronger partnerships and have a systemic perspective that will set us apart as a profession in the service of our clients. Our new digital badging system for ICF Credential-holders (another great ICF initiative) affords us greater visibility as a cadre of professionals who can change the world. Let’s build on the upside together as One ICF.
What initiatives have been part of? How do you believe coaches have shown up during the pandemic? Please share your experiences and thoughts by commenting below.
May you and yours stay well and safe.