The First Fifteen


In January of this year, I received quite a few congratulations-on-your-business-anniversary messages on my Linked-In page. I usually get a couple of these messages each year, but this year there were a lot. It soon dawned on me that I have had my coaching and consulting business for 15 years: an important milestone and a good time to reflect on what’s changed over the years.

When I started my business in 2003, the International Coach Federation (ICF) had 6,700 members. Today there are 29,000 members. There has been a huge increase in coaches, ICF local chapters and international growth of the coaching industry, so what else has changed in the field
of coaching?

Coaching is viewed as a valuable development tool

In the beginning, coaching in the business setting was reserved either for high-level executives or for low-level performers in organizations. I had a few early clients who were on a PIP (performance improvement plan), but that is rare these days.

Today, organizations use coaching to develop talent at all levels of management, and it’s viewed very much as a positive.

Coaching is a profession and a skill set

There are three levels of credentials a coach can receive from the ICF. The majority of credentialed coaches (61 percent) have the first level, Associate Certified Coach (ACC); about 35 percent have the next level, Professional Certified Coach (PCC); and 4 percent hold the top level, Master Certified Coach (MCC). While there has been an increase in the number of credentialed coaches, there has also been a big increase in the number of people that see the value in having a coaching skill set.

In Lansing alone, I am working with three of our large area employers to teach coaching skills to their managers. Coaching is now seen as an essential skill set to have to make you a well-rounded leader.

Coaching is in high demand

Fifteen years ago, coaches had to explain what coaching is, how it works and the process — not anymore. People “get it,” and they want to jump right in.

ICF defines coaching as “partnering with clients (or employees) in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Sounds like something everyone could use, right? There is demand for external coaches as well as internal leaders with coaching skills.

It’s been an honor to be in this field for so long. I’d like to thank all my former clients for the privilege of co-piloting along your journey. I can’t wait to see what the next fifteen years will bring.


Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit or for more information.

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