Magdalena Mook, Executive Director & CEO, International Coach Federation

April 16, 2016 • Coaching, Female Leadership In Our Time, Women in Leadership

We all take risks in life and that’s why working with professional coaches is important; it should not be a matter of good fortune.

Magdalena N. Mook is the Executive Director and CEO of the International Coach Federation (ICF). She joined ICF in 2005 and has supported ICF with extensive experience in fundraising, development, consulting and association management. Magdalena was previously Assistant Director of National Policy and Director of Development with the Council of State Governments (CSG), a national association of state officials in all three branches of U.S. government, where she oversaw the design and implementation of development strategy for CSG, coordinated policy-specific research and implementation activities, and worked closely with the USAID’s US-Asia Environmental Program, overseeing grant programs in 11 nations of Southeast Asia.  Prior to CSG, she served as program manager for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Magdalena is an economist and a trained coach.


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Being raised and educated in Europe and America was a great help in providing me with the perspective to deal with those issues. As an economist who had studied international management and consulting, the career opportunity in the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture offered me the opportunity to use my academic qualifications to develop my international business abilities. It also enabled me to make a positive contribution to issues of personal importance to me, such as economic empowerment and the environment, through my work coordinating technical assistance programmes and implementing special programmes in Europe and Southeast Asia. Not everyone is so fortunate, but when I joined the staff of the International Coach Federation in 2005 I realised the value of having my own mentors, role models and coaches. Ultimately, I took steps to study systemic coaching.



Working on policy and development with officials from all three branches of government  provided important insight into the exercise of leadership in and for government, but perhaps just as important was the period I spent at ICF as assistant executive director prior to being appointed CEO and executive director. Partnership with the ICF Global Board of Directors is key to my current role, and I like to think that my training as a professional coach plays a significant part in being able to communicate effectively and with purpose, not only to the board, but with our task forces, committees, and our members worldwide.



You’re correct that coaching has successfully attracted numerous women. According to our last Global Coaching Study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the majority of coaches (67 percent) were female; we expect to see a similar proportion when we release the 2016 iteration of this research later this year. Women have taken leading roles in ICF from our earliest days. More than half of our past Global Board Chairs have been women, and women hold the three top leadership positions in our 2016 Board.  



Do women lead differently? Most studies on women in the boardroom seem to suggest they do. Because coaching helps individuals tap into their own, unique strengths, our research with PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that a growing number of women are turning to this modality to achieve diverse goals, such as defining personal strengths and weaknesses and enhancing work/life balance.  Studies also show that women leaders achieve greater results – in other words, they do all that men do, only differently.



Our continuing international research programmes, active engagement and development of ICF Chapters have been and will continue to be important.

But the recognition of quality assurance and professional standards that ICF membership provides worldwide to organizations and individuals who provide and use coaches is key.

Sensitivity to geographic and cultural differences is important to any coach. In most European countries as well as Australia and North America, the issue of women on the boards of major corporations and in senior management roles is impacting the coaching agenda. In many countries, such as India, the recruitment of ICF professional coaches is being used not just to create a common language and position people for success, but to change the traditional top-down management model.




We all take risks in life and that’s why working with professional coaches is important; it should not be a matter of good fortune. As a CEO of this large global organization, along with my board colleagues, we are taking risks every day, providing a direction for the growth and evolution of professional coaching. That said, by enabling me to put into practice the professional skills and technical abilities I have gained in my career, it has been rewarding on so many levels. Being a partner in the leadership and development of an organization whose members are enabling changes in the way people work and impacting the performance of organizations is a matter of real pride.



In a word: ‘partnership’. Professional coaches partner with individuals and organizations to assist them in realizing their goals and objectives. Being part of a truly international or global organization gives me, as well as our members, the opportunity to appreciate and learn from the way people in other cultures apply the same standards to meet the same needs. This keeps me grounded in the realities of the challenge for coaching and helps me grow as an individual and a professional.  Continuous growth and ‘staying fit for purpose’ is something that is expected of coaches. I could do no different – staying abreast of trends, new techniques, research and the science of coaching provides for ongoing growth and never-ending curiosity.



Keeping ahead of the game is a particular and peculiar challenge for every international organization. We have to recognize the digital deficit issues that exist for different reasons in many countries and almost every society when we develop our communication and development strategies.  We look at technology as a great equalizer and support for the growth of coaching, bringing success stories to potential new coaches and new clients. Technology will continue to change the way coaching is delivered. However, it will not, in my opinion, change the impact of coaching or the core competencies. In fact, technology may enable access to coaching for those who perhaps would not be able to partake otherwise, including women in the workplace or those transitioning in and out of less and less traditional working arrangements.



It is a challenge for everyone in work and management if, like me, they are going to enjoy their family life as much as their career. Being able to adapt and adjust is as important as being part of an organization that values its employees and recognizes that achieving work/life balance is essential. But as a famous adage goes, find something you love and you will never be working a day in your life.



It is important that I continue to challenge myself in all I do; is it possible to do things better and to good effect? In an uncertain world, five years is an incredibly long time. The one certainty is that coaching can only grow in importance for individuals, communities, businesses and the public in general. Goals and dreams are plentiful. After all, the vision of ICF is to see coaching becoming an integral part of a thriving society; there is plenty to do before we can say that the job is done. I would like to think that I will be able to play a part in ensuring that professional coaching is used in all aspects of life and that ICF is recognized for the standards, quality and relevance it contributes through its members to that process.



A sense of humor, positive attitude and strong conviction that everything is possible. Oh, and it would not be a good day if I did not have my smartphone with me.


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One Response to Magdalena Mook, Executive Director & CEO, International Coach Federation

  1. I am a middle aged single mother who is struggling after losing a position of 10yrs with one company. I have never had the good fortune of having a mentor or coach. Obviously, cue to my financial situation I am unable to hire a life/career coach. I live in an area of over100,000 private retirement community that unless you are a resident you can not join any of their groups. I have 18 plus years before I can retire and must reinvent myself. I am fully aware of how much mentoring could have helped me years ago, but never was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity. I truly want this more than anything and feel it could make the biggest change of my.entire life. Could you please lead me to finding string, intelligent women to guide me to my future and greatest career potential. I was so inspired by your life and work. Thank you, for any and all help you can offer, Lisa Keller

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