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Coach the Human, not the Culture – Part Two

  May 10, 2021

Asia Pacific Coaching Development

APAC is relatively young. We celebrated 12 years in 2019 at our Mumbai conference. Coaching in Asia Pacific is still in its formative years. As is the case with the teenage experience, there is push and pull, there are disruptions and opinions, there is jostling for position, and occasionally retreating to the comfort of what we know at home where it is familiar.

As APAC matures, it will become clear that we are coaching resourceful, creative, and whole human beings. As the coach matures and collects more hours, it becomes clear that experienced MCCs focus on who our clients are, versus simply what they are doing and achieving. North America, Europe and Australasia are more mature coaching regions and have more experienced MCCs. As Asia Pacific gains more mature coaches, I believe national or regional concerns will diminish. This will be as we increasingly coach the ‘who’ of our clients which will outweigh the ‘what’.

By coaching who our clients are being we have a sustainable and exciting business model. Eventually, simply coaching what our clients are doing and achieving becomes mundane and boring. I don’t know any experienced Masterful coaches offering transformational coaching unless they address not only who their clients are being but also who they themselves are being. MCC’s focus on the who of the client, as evidenced by the ICF MCC assessment criteria1.

Let me explain further using this graphic:

As an ICF assessor I have observed that there is something about ‘performing’ that shows up for credentialing candidates for Associated Certified Coach (ACC) and Professional Certified Coach (PCC). Candidates are showing the assessors that they are ‘doing’ coaching. There is a transactional tendency – a ‘driving to solution’. This is not what assessors are listening for at MCC level. We are listening for the coach to disappear. We are listening for a seamless conversation that moves the client forward in who they are being. The ‘performing’ is not limited to a place, culture, or time - we all do it as we are all human beings. One of the main pieces of feedback given to MCC candidates is to ‘unlearn’ the tools, the techniques, and the training, i.e: first learn all the rules, and then let them go. Trusting in themselves, rather than the safety net that these tools, techniques, and training have provided, is one of the hardest shifts Masterful coaches must make.

The pathway to the MCC credential is a global pathway defined by the ICF, and one that not only grows us but grows those around us. Beyond the MCC credential, is Masterful coaching. Masterful coaching is not about what you do, but who you are. This is universal and not country specific.

For many in the Asia Pacific region, recognition of their ability to coach is paramount. Education and academic qualifications are important to differentiate ourselves from the masses, who I call the ‘coaching cowboys’. Having a globally recognized qualification is what many coaches strive for.

At ACC and PCC levels it is understandable why we presume there are differences in coaching clients from different states, countries, cultures, and regions, but MCC coaches add in the who of the client. Not only what they are doing, where they are located, or how they got there. We coach in the present (thus we are not therapists) and we focus on the client’s agenda (thus we are not consultants). The agendas of clients, no matter where they are located, is usually based around gaining clarity on their behaviours and recalibrating where necessary.

Again, I respectfully ask us to retire, or at least suspend, our limiting beliefs around regional culture differences, diversity and communication which are tending to lead us down a path of fragmenting our beloved profession. By reading and learning from this APAC Book of Wisdom we can avoid this pitfall of Balkanising our beloved profession.

If you are truly wedded to the idea that coaching in Asia Pacific is different, then let the following be the ‘difference’. Many Asian cultures are old, very old, and offer a deep spiritual aspect that some newer, Western cultures are only recently embracing. Think workplace mindfulness, movement, and meditation offerings. These practises shift us from simply doing to being. They are multidimensional and weblike versus one dimensional and linear. Perhaps this ‘difference’ will accelerate coaching in Asia Pacific in mastering the art and science of coaching?

1International Coach Federation Minimum Skills Requirements for MCC

Coach the Human, not the Culture is a four-part series that continues with Part Three in our next blog posting.


Belinda MacInnes was one of the first MCC’s in Asia Pacific (2005) and has coached many nationalities and levels of seniority in clients in the region. She has been privileged to coach 300 clients over 7,800 hours. She has over 500 hours of coach specific training behind her and plans to have many more ahead. She is on faculty with a global coach training school. Belinda is an ICF MCC Assessor and has served as ICFA President and APAC First Vice President. She is also a Professional Mentor Coach. Belinda is the author of the globally- selling Professional Coach’s Business System (pcbs) Revisited – a step-by-step manual supporting coaches in private practice how to set up and run their business using systems. Belinda has, and continues to, attend as a delegate, speaker, and sponsor, numerous coaching conferences internationally and locally. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne (physics and mathematics) and a Graduate Diploma in Business Systems (with Distinction) from RMIT University. She is a passionate student of where theoretical physics, neuroscience, philosophy and AGI are heading in this 21st century, and enjoys synthesising these to give her a unique approach to coaching and the business of coaching. Belinda is a 20-year veteran.




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