Coaching Resources & FAQs

These PDFs and videos will help you get started on your coaching journey. 


1-1 Coaching


State Associations


1. Who is Coaching for? What does it offer?

Everyone! Coaching offers value for people at any stage in their careers. As in sports, coaching helps even the best players do better. Why? Because everyone can benefit from sharing best practices and gaining perspectives from others who can help them see their situation and opportunities from a fresh perspective. That's why we organize the Coaching program webinars to serve as whole team learning experiences. It's also why the Speed Coaching and 1-1 Coaching models provide a structure for advice at multiple stages in a career. 

2. How did the Coaching Program start and grow?

The Cal-ICMA Coaching Program began in 2003 with a cadre of 40 volunteers led by co-chairs: city managers Frank Benest and Tim O'Donnell and up an comer Amy Cunningham. They contracted with Don Maruska, MBA, JD, and Master Certified Coach, to be the paid Director to deliver best practices in coaching and organize the coaching program components. Sponsors, most notably the League of California Cities and the California City Management Foundation and dozens more (non-profits and corporate), provided the funding. Seeing the success, ICMA provided additional funding to expand the program to serve other state associations. Thus, the program grew from 15 people on a teleconference in 2004 to more than 1000 on a webinar in 2015 with 15 other ICMA State Association joining as Partners. In 2015, ICMA secured the support of ICMA-RC to serve as a national Platinum Sponsor to take the program nationwide in 2016. The history of the program is a model of a state initiative growing with ICMA to serve the profession as a whole. 

3. What is included in the coaching program?

The ICMA Coaching Program delivers a suite of services to help you grow and enjoy your career.

  • 6 live Webinars per year spotlighting best practices on key topics from local government professionals throughout the U.S. -- invite your whole team to participate. 
  • Digital Agendas and Archives with video recordings and extensive presentation materials and examples from dozens of sessions available in a convenient online library--delivering you "professional development in a box"--when you want it and where you want it.
  • 1-1 Coaching Resources to provide personalized support.
  • Talent Development Resources to make greater use of your talent and have fun doing it.
  • Speed Coaching session at the ICMA Annual Conference  and templates for use at local level -- expand your networks.
  • Career Compass columns that address critical career issues.
4. Do I need to be a member of ICMA to participate in 1-1 Coaching?

No. Due to the generosity of the sponsors and partners for the ICMA Coaching Program and volunteer coaches, you do not need to be a member. Since ICMA membership has many benefits, we encourage you to consider joining.

5. What's the difference between a coach, a catalyst, and a mentor?

Some people use "coach" and "mentor" interchangeably. In the ICMA Coaching Program, we use the term "coach" to refer to someone who is helping others find the answers for themselves. This fits well with the interests of aspiring professionals to gain insights from others but blaze their own trails. A catalyst is a type of coach who accelerates action and precipitates results for others without becoming consumed in the process. A catalyst keeps the player in charge of his or her choices. In contrast, mentors often refer to people who teach others and guide them in how to do things. This works well when there is a specific body of knowledge that someone wishes to learn. So, a coach and a mentor are tools for different purposes. You'll probably want one or more of both and who they are will likely evolve over your career.

6. How often and over what period of time should a coach and coachees meet?

This is up to the coach and player. Some meet initially in-person or over the phone and then have occasional check-ins. Some make other arrangements. It's up to your mutual decision. You can decide to start and stop a coaching relationship as you see fit. See ABCs of 1-1 Coaching

7. How many coaches should I have?

Just as top sports players have multiple coaches (one overall, another for a particular skill, etc.), you may wish to have more than one coach. You might have one coach who helps you as you navigate your overall career. This might be an ongoing relationship of several months or more with occasional check-ins. You might have another coach (perhaps even one suggested by your career coach) for a targeted time to help you address a special need or insights about a particular subject or situation.

Please send any further inquiries or feedback to