Becoming a Credentialed Coach

I recently contributed to South African Coaching News Magazine, with an article sharing my experience of becoming a credentialed coach.

The article shares my experience and also suggests a few considerations for aspiring coaches.

You can read the full article below and feel free to contact us for any further items.

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Becoming a Coach - by David Davis

(as published in the SA Coaching News Magazine, SACn Vol 2 Issue 11.)

Where does one start? How did I get to where I am now? 

Let me state up front that this is my experience and the reason for sharing is a combination of “I wish I knew some of this before” and my own experiences. I will also note that I do not intend that any opinion or view expressed should be seen as a criticism of any approach or choice I made relative to what you might make. 

In saying this, and for context, my background and history are relevant, as is yours as the reader. It will influence or provide comfort levels with a decision different to my own, but at the very least, consider the questions I asked myself through the journey. 

My bio – I hold multiple degrees (Law and Philosophy) and an MBA. I worked in multicultural, multinational settings, lived in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, travelled to most African and Middle East Countries. I held various roles, including Executive HR and Directorships in multiple countries, multiple industries for over 25 years. I have two businesses, climbed Kilimanjaro, ran my first marathon, live in Cape Town with my wife and two teenage daughters, and continued seeking new clients. 

Eight years ago, I decided to stop traveling. The work-life balance was “work alone” and “living alone” with the occasional overlap of family and friends. Dinner on a Friday night with my family in SA and me in Ghana or Sierra Leone or Croatia, while exciting, was not the plan. 

When I stopped, I had no idea what business I wanted, all I knew was that I wanted to make a difference for myself, 

my family, and others, do this from anywhere, love what I do, and make a living. 

I did not know what or how to proceed. I took a two-month holiday with the family. I mention this, as the week before I left, I was asked to consider Leadership Management International and become a licensee. The focus on Leadership development for organizations, something I was familiar with, fitted what I wanted – I could work from home and deliver on client sites. I 


I thus committed to a Business with support in the form of accredited materials, facilitated content that I did not have to develop, and had a track record I could use, including sales training, marketing materials – an area I was “weak” in. As I now understand, coaching is part coaching and part running a business, thus also requires sales activities and many others. 

The first suggestion, if you have a business weakness, find ways to grow this, or find a support mechanism. 

BeyondPossible came into existence, the idea being to take individuals and organizations beyond what they believe is possible. 

My first exploration of “coaching” (outside of inhouse programs) was a three-day Nancy Kline Thinking Partners workshop, driven more by curiosity and exploration versus a defined direction. I loved the experience, and it reconfirmed I was heading in the right direction. 

The second suggestion is to dip your toe to confirm you enjoy it. 

My priority was to get the business up and running. Companies generally require legal structures, compliance items, marketing, website, customers, delivery of programs, getting to know the materials, etc. Year 1 was challenging. Early on, I realized I would need to expand the business, and thus initially seeking SETA accreditation was the priority. At the same time, I considered credentialed “coaching” as an option again – it would provide additional dimensions to the business, different product offerings. 

How did I do it? I opted for the South African Business Coaches program. This program takes you on a seven-month journey, involving 15 full-day sessions, split over five blocks. In between, you learn to coach, develop your coaching business, and ultimately be able to start your COMENSA credentialing process, become a member of various bodies, and continue to practice as a coach. 

Suggestion 3 – “What will the program you consider provide you, once completed?” 

The program’s benefit was the use of Coaching Practice Software – something I had not considered and highly recommended – i.e., what administrative support do you get to run your practice? 

How did I decide to select the program? The answer lay in my personal history, a combination of convenient logistics, perception of value, and affordability. 

One option was the Nancy Kline development process, and I spoke to a qualified Thinking Coach, who predominantly focused on international clients. I also considered transcendental coaching, coaching schools, transformational coaching, and a few other options. 

Suggestion 4 – speak to existing coaches. 

I distinguish between the life coaching approach versus business coaching, as I feel it is the first question to be answered. I prefer the business coaching approach, as it would feed off my business experience and qualifications. I did not feel the non-business coaching approach suited me, perceiving it as more intangible versus tangible – personal preference. 

Suggestion 5 – with what are you most comfortable? 

Logistically, I wanted a program I could attend in Cape Town. I did not want to travel and be away again. (As a result of COVID, we did sessions remotely via Zoom, something also to consider when logistics is a consideration). 

Cost – I discovered that some programs cost more than an MBA? It did not fit with my “hierarchy” of value or budget. Options existed from as little as 180 ZAR, all of which were not certified. 

Suggestion 6 – do you require a formal qualification? 

MY decision required a business focus, locally accessible, and provided value for money. 

Before I made my final selection, I took two further steps. I spoke directly with Neal, the person behind SA Business Coaches, and interviewed some of the qualified business coaches who had a similar business background to myself. 

Suggestion 7 – Interview previous attendees and the provider if possible. 

Selecting a genre will provide you with an approach or methodology, and there are 100’s of coaching methodologies and practices within the genres. The method is precisely that; it is the process you follow within the genre, the steps you would take, the model you would use to run a coaching session. The level of effectiveness also varies. 

Suggestion 8 – does the path chosen provide flexibility or not? 

Finally, some additional thoughts came to mind and suggested questions to consider. 

Where do you wish to use newly acquired skills? Do you want to use this within your current role, perhaps hoping to transition out of the employed world, or do you wish to create a business? 

Do you have sufficient capital or support? It always takes longer than you anticipate. Do consider this, as coaching is extremely fulfilling personally, but not necessarily financially in the beginning. 

Do you intend to credential and with which organization? In my view, the answer depends entirely on your intentions with your newly acquired coaching competencies and something you need to consider when selecting your provider. 

Suppose you intend to provide services to organizations. In that case, you will likely need COMENSA or ICF or similar credentialing, as these organizations and governmental departments require minimum standards. 

I have completed all the requirements for certification by SA Business Coaches. I will be eligible to be listed on the International Coaching Registry, become a member of COMENSA, and suitable for the next steps – credentialing. 

I must also mention Supervision and Continuous Personal development – yes, as part of the credentialing and ongoing support, you will also need a coach yourself and continue to develop yourself, which has cost implications. 

I was extremely fortunate to complete the formal development process, focus on my coaching development, refinement, and knowledge during the lockdown, and come out ready to progress. I still have some way to go, and most exciting for me, this is a lifelong career with multiple options. I like the flexibility and opportunity to make a real difference in the world. 

The journey will thus continue, with numerous stops and destinations along the way. 

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