Shaping APECS for the future of coaching

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With a week to go until our Meet the Board session, the chair of APECS outlines the issues the board would like to put to members to equip APECS to remain relevant in a changing coaching market.

By David Lane, Chair of APECS

Since the launch of APECS the field of executive coaching has changed dramatically. Coaching has become a core element for development in organisations and is widely respected as a contribution to effective change and achievement of corporate people strategy. So it is time to reflect on the place of coaching now – the demands facing our field and the role of APECS as part of those changes. What do we need to do to change ourselves to reflect this?

So this is an invitation to a dialogue. There are some key changes we need to make if we are going to see APECS enhance its place in meeting the needs of current and future members. Four potential dialogues are outlined here each of which has implications for our strategy going forward as well as the Governance of APECS and its membership structures.

External and internal coaching

In its creation, APECS was designed to meet the needs of full-time executive coaches and organisations using them. The categories of membership reflected that – with a high standard for fully accredited coaches and other categories which were designed as stepping stones to that level.

Yet the rise of internal coaching and the needs of our members who work in those roles has not received the attention to reflect the predominance of internal coaching in most organisations. APECS needs to consider: is it there just to meet the needs of external full-time coaches or the broader needs generated by coaching in corporates? Are we for executive coaching or just a grouping of coaches? How might we reach out to our current and future members so that those who are not full-time executive coaches feel they are welcomed and active participants?

What of those who are members who are reaching at least part-time retirement? We have no category for them and require a re-application to another class of member if they wish to continue their association and contribute to APECS in the longer term

For a variety of reasons our membership categories need revisiting to ensure we hold to the high standard expected of our fully accredited members yet we encompass others.

The APECS board are discussing membership and we need your contributions to ensure we are fit for the future we actually face.

Accredited supervisors

When APECS created the supervisor category we were alone in professional bodies in the field in making supervision mandatory rather than simply recommended and in insisting on tight standards for accreditation of supervisors

However supervision has moved on and it is now seen, especially in Europe, as a field of activity in its own right. Thus qualified supervisors are working outside of their own content expertise, using their understanding of the supervision process as the basis of their offer to clients. We have tended to view supervision in APECS as something experienced coaches offer to other coaches – thus our supervisors are almost entirely also coaches.

If supervision is now a field of practice, then perhaps as APECS we should be welcoming non-coaches who are supervisors into our membership. Could we be co-operating more with the bodies representing supervision across Europe?


APECS has members outside the UK and we do receive requests from across the world asking about becoming members. This is largely from those who look at the standards and see them as fitting for their practice.

We have yet to build or even agree if we should have an international presence and, if so, a strategy for achieving it.

We also have no strategy for thinking about the bodies also working in the corporate field both at home and internationally who share our interests and with whom we could co-operate. There has been some discussion internationally about the potential of executive (or business) coaching as a field that could encompass a wide inter-disciplinary grouping. Thus, whatever our field or origin, we see ourselves as executive coaches. Could APECS be contributing to such discussions? So far we have not!

Our members work internationally and our clients are often global so the reach beyond our shores is part of our practice – should it be part of our strategy?

Accreditation and membership

Our original terms of membership have served us well but now are increasingly awkward for the work we do and could do to support the field. The board has been working on these and are considering alternatives and will propose a number of changes. These will not be to the core commitment to the standard that has marked our contribution. Full accredited status will not change but we do need new ways to describe other members to fully represent their role. This includes both individuals and corporates.

This has implications for our accreditation process. Again there is no intention to change the fully accredited status but encouraging other routes into membership for those completing masters degrees in coaching is needed. For those who are internal coaches and whose training has been equivalent to postgraduate training we need to consider how they can be described and welcomed. They will not become full-time coaches but they have a role to play. Revisiting these questions we believe will better equip APECS for the challenges of the future.

So how can you get involved?

We are starting a dialogue on the 19th April to which you are invited. We look forward to continuing that through to the AGM in June. We also plan to create a series of working groups to explore key issues in addition to existing groups on Corporate Engagement and Internal Coaching; CPPD; and Communications. Please consider joining these groups to add your expertise to build an exciting future for APECS as part of the fascinating world that executive coaching has become.

APECS has been at the forefront in a number of ways we intend that it should be so for the future.

Meet the board, shape the future of APECS
19th April 2016, 6.30–8.30pm
Space in Marylebone, 10 Daventry Street, London NW1 5NX
Members and non-members £12 inc. VAT

Book with Eventbrite.

Image courtesy Stephen D.


  1. As an international member already, I much appreciate this invitation to dialogue, on the excellent topics laid out above. However, regardless of interest, in reality the format seems to allow only those local to London, or close enough, to engage about the future of APECS. Is there any way I and other international members can join the conversation?


  2. Hi Lilian. You make a good point but it is beyond the scope of the Real Sessions to address. The programme is run by a team of volunteers as a series of face-to-face conversations held in London. Another group organises a series in the South West of England. It’s entirely open to other APECS members to take matters into their own hands by organising initiatives around their interests – e.g. those who don’t find it easy to attend regional events could consider starting a webinars programme. As for the board’s invitation to dialogue, while I’m stepping down from the board this month, I’m sure the other directors will give consideration to your request as they approach the AGM.


  3. Dear Lilian

    Thank you for your intervention and indeed all will be consulted via different routes the Real Session is just one way.

    We are also considering the position of our international role and how we support those who cannot get to events in London.

    I look forward to hearing your views as documents are released for consultation.


    David Lane


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