In conversation with Katherine Tulpa, Association for Coaching

22nd June by Lee Robertson

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Katherine Tulpa, CEO of the Association for Coaching

We caught up with Katherine Tulpa, CEO of the Association for Coaching to get a sneak preview of what is in store at the first ever virtual Coaching in the Workplace Conference and Exhibition.

The upcoming Coaching in the Workplace conference and exhibition is very ambitious and far reaching. What were your reasons for uniting with the IOC and launching this event?

The AC and IoC have a long-standing relationship. Carol Kauffman, one of the three founding directors we’ve known for over 15 years when she was the Editor of Coaching, our academic, international coaching journal we publish with Routledge. 

Carol often describes us as two ‘sister organisations’. We are two non-profit professional bodies passionate about science and practice of coaching, committed to seeing coaching advance, alongside greater contribution and impact it can make within business and society.  

Just last week, Carol and I when preparing for the conference, realised we both mentioned the word ‘ripple’, several times!  We are aligned on our values, and so it just made sense when the opportunity presented itself, to join forces, and run our first virtual conference, together.

The event promises innovative learning at your fingertips with its depth and breadth of speakers and topics. What are some of the personal highlights for you and also the key reasons coaches, people professionals and business leaders should be tuning in?

There are so many, it’s hard to choose a few!  I love that we have C-level executives - such as Terecina Kwong, COO of HSBC China, David Peterson at Google, and Syl Saller, CMO of Diageo – sharing their inspiring stories on how a ‘coach approach’ has helped them to drive a more inclusive and engaged culture, and become even better leaders to their people and teams.

We’ll hear from Charlie Stainforth, past AoEC graduate and director of CIRCL, on their experiences developing coaching capabilities within emerging leaders across technology, and the effect coaching can have on young adults and future generations.  Also, a track dedicated for Internal Coaching, hearing from companies like Grant Thornton, and Barclays.

Of course, we’ll also have some ‘headlines’, too, including René Carayol (advisor to boards on building inclusive cultures) and Jay Shetty (coach, lifestyle guru, author); alongside academics Richard Boyatzis PhD, Dr. Martyn Newman, and Dr. Carolin Graßmann, amongst others.

In short, it’s a conference for professional executive and team coaches, leader-coaches, and internal coaches who want refine their skills, gain new perspective and perhaps some renewed energy, too, so that we stay relevant, to coaching in this new dynamic workplace, today.

Dr Declan Wood’s session on day three of the conference will be used to highlight the market need for a team coaching accreditation scheme and the Association for Coaching’s work to date. Can you give us a sneak preview of what will be announced?

We are so excited about the work that Declan is leading on developing the Association for Coaching’s team coaching accreditation. The session will be informative to practitioners considering becoming accredited as team coaches and provide the opportunity to ask questions about the upcoming scheme. We will discuss the current state of the team coaching market and the demand for this. We will start to demystify the differences between team coaching and team facilitation and the knowledge needed to coach teams as well as requisite skills and competencies. We will look at some of the challenges that arise when coaching teams and how coaches can look after themselves during this and be better prepared as a result.

Declan will share his insights, and learnings so far, from the research he’s done around team coaching. He will also be inviting our community to share more in the conversation, and his conference session will be part of that. More to come!

What are your longer-term hopes and plans for the Coaching in the Workplace conference?

We will be continuing the dialogue with our members and delegates who have registered for the conference from over 32 countries from different pockets of the world, in our commitment to be a professional body for all of coaching, not just a professional body for coaches.

As an inclusive body, the Association for Coaching since our start 18 years ago, has always invited corporate members to join us, as well as coaching providers and schools, such as the AoEC, so we represent different stakeholder groups and forms of coaching. That way, we’re not working in a ‘practitioner bubble’, so we can accelerate our collective work in advancing coaching in business, which is important to us.

Practically, this means rolling out our new ‘Leader Coach’ Accreditation scheme later this year, so the conference is a good launch pad for this, and doing more with HRD, internal coaches, and team coaches, building on the learning and insights from the conference.

The event is being run virtually so it is accessible all over the world. How do you see technology influencing the wider coaching industry and how it is delivered?

For our Coaching in the Workplace, we invested in a new virtual conference platform that will look to emulate a real conference experience, as if you were entering a real, face to face conference (e.g. conference call, exhibitor area, break-outs). However, it’s not the platform itself, but the engagement around it that will make it all come to life, both pre, during, and after.

That same concept, I believe still applies for technology overall. It was Jon Naisbitt, in Megatrends that coined the term, ‘high tech, high touch’ and that hybrid model, more than ever exists in our search for greater meaning and purpose in our work, and the communities we all belong too.  We have a lot to learn from technology and need to embrace it – including all the AI can provide us – AND ‘dial up’ the human touch elements, which coaching can bring, proportionately, and then some.

What is your assessment of the key trends and challenges facing the coaching profession?

What first comes to mind, is for us to continue our pursuit to find more creative ways, to use Zoom and other virtual platforms that will energise and bring out the best learning and reflection from leaders and teams. We’re all on a learning curve, here.

More broadly, of course, we need to put AI as part of it, as well as the themes around work/life integration, career reinvention, virtual teaming, dealing with crisis, meaning and purpose at work, and coaching groups and teams (see this on the rise).

Also, a greater emphasis for developing the compassionate, values led leaders, who lead through relationships skills (with a big ‘R’),  who are more in tune with the emerging generations, and what’s outside happening in the local communities they belong to. 

The recent world events will be a catalyst for this. Likewise, the coaching profession needs to be in touch with business, and understand, too, the challenges of weighing the responsibilities for keeping an industry or business afloat, while caring for their people. We are already seeing the dilemmas this is creating for both leaders, and governments, alike.

At the AoEC we are often asked about whether the market is saturated with executive coaches – what is your take on this as CEO of the Association for Coaching?

Personally, I see the global coaching industry overall still in the early growth stage. While we have some markets that are more established, such as Australia, the UK, parts of Europe and North America, there is still so much more to go.

Putting this into perspective, as the awareness, value and usage of coaching continues to grow at an accelerated rate in organisations - as it has done over these past five years especially – the demand will also grow. This is also across all levels, not just at the Exco levels, as we are starting to see now, from the next generation of leaders.

However, staying relevant and up to date, as executive coaches is key. We need to ensure we align our coaching programmes to the new context and the growing needs of our client’s worlds, especially within this agile, virtual workplace we are now operating and living in.

We also need to embrace the internal coaching agenda, and not feel threatened by the increased offerings of internal coaches, as a service, if we want coaching ripple to more widely across organisations. This can create further opportunities, as there is still much to learn from each other, as the industry is far from mature.

In your opinion, why is it so important for coaching practitioners to be accredited?

Whilst accreditation is not mandatory, there are several important things that it brings:

For purchases of coaching services, it provides a way of selecting coaches or coach training programmes knowing that the service that will be provided has been assessed and benchmarked against rigorous and robust standards.

For coaches, accreditation is an excellent development tool to measure how they are progressing towards coaching mastery. Going through the process of accreditation, means that a coach will review how they meet the competencies, discover what they need to do differently, what they need to learn (or relearn) and what they excel at.

For users of coaching services, accreditation is a differentiator. With so many individuals and organisations offering coaching, or a version of coaching combined with other helping interventions, knowing that a coach supervisor, or coach training provider has this status awarded through assessing the practical application of the service offered is invaluable.

Accreditation, in our view should not be an activity that just “takes a coach through the motions”. It should be a rewarding, valuable and meaningful experience, giving the Coach an excellent CPD experience through the opportunity to review and reflect on how they operate when working with their clients.

Finally, accreditation is a method of raising the standards in coaching practice. In an industry that is self-regulated, an intervention that can be proven to enhance and underpin best practice, supports adherence to a code of ethics and is based upon a robust coaching framework can only be a good thing to have.

As well as being co-founder and CEO of AC, you run your own successful board-level coaching business, Wisdom8. How do you think you will be using some of the conference’s insights in your own coaching practice?

For me, the next step will be to speak to all my coaching colleagues, within Wisdom8 who attended the conference, to share our collective reflections, and then actionable insights, in our ongoing learning path to grow. I’m sure all the other coaches attending will do the same.

Belonging and community are two of my biggest drivers, and I feel hugely energised by what this conference will bring also to the broader AC and IoC member’s communities, and how this will collectively enhance and energise us for this next period. We hope to see you there!

Coaching in the Workplace takes place 24th - 26th June 2020. Tickets can be booked here