Kimberly Errigo is an award-winning executive leadership coach and trusted adviser to entrepreneurs and C-level executives at top companies around the world. Her qualifications include the elite Master Certified Coach credential, a Master’s degree in psychology, and two teaching credentials in science. Additionally, Kimberly is the Founder and Executive Director of Santa Cruz Coaches and is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches.
SCC: How did you become a coach?
KE: My interest in behavior change started in the rainforest of Central America. I was serving in the Peace Corps in Panama, living on the side of the mountain in a rainforest with no hot water or electricity. My main project was writing the first national curriculum for environmental education for the country, so I had to find a way to elicit behavior change for that to happen. One day, I had an epiphany that if we wanted to save that ecosystem, we couldn’t just make more rules. We needed to change how we human beings think about ourselves and our role on the planet. That realization set me on the path of becoming a coach.
That path was definitely not linear. I was a nomad artisan in South America, an artist at juried art fairs, energy healer, and owner of a healing center before I entered an official coaching program, many years later. On my first day in the program, I looked around and thought, “I can’t believe there is a place in the world for people like me.” I really had no idea that it was even possible.
SCC: What has your educational path looked like?
KE: I earned both my Master’s of Psychology and my MCC within the last five years. My master’s thesis was about the role of intuition in leadership, business, and success. Intuition is critical for business success, but most people don’t talk about it.
Intuition is part of genius. The concept of genius integrates the ideas of self and what lies beyond the self. That’s what’s most interesting to me — the integration between the personal and the transpersonal. In my experience, we all need to find that in order to create a successful life, leadership, or business path.
SCC: As one of the most highly credential coaches in our region, do you feel coaches need to become credentialed?
KE: We all know that clients are not worrying about our credentials, but that’s not why I would ever recommend getting one. A credential isn’t just proof that you know what you’re doing. It also elevates the industry and gives form and structure to our profession.
The coaching industry is relatively new, and we are unregulated. I expect that to change in the coming years, and when it does, I predict that the easiest way will be to go through the credentialing bodies that already exist. The ICF is the most prominent body doing that work.
Credentials also offer you more professional range. You may be in private practice now and not need or want a credential, but later on you may want to work in a corporate setting, and industry does value credentials. I coached for over fifteen years before I got my credential, and I never would have imagined when I started that I’d be where I am today.
SCC: Who is your ideal client?
KE: Over the course of time, my work and business have been through countless reinventions. I’ve worked as a leadership coach and wellness coach, both in corporate and in private practice. I’ve taught and mentored other coaches in business growth. Now I do leadership development and executive coaching in my practice, which is work that I find very exciting. Leadership development is really personal development, because at the end of the day all we really have to share is our level of consciousness.
I work with leaders who are becoming interested in the heart. It’s interesting to me that so many leaders are actually not happy. Most leaders are driven by something, and they’re often more intuitive than they talk about. To give a leader the space to explore what they might have left behind or left out in their headlong quest to succeed, that’s the work I do.
SCC: What did birthing Santa Cruz Coaches teach you about leadership?
KE: That’s a good question! It has helped me put into perspective how long I’ve been a leader. I did the same thing in Panama when I was 23 — I needed a project, so I created one. I didn’t conceptualize myself as a leader at the time. Rather, I saw what needed to be done, and I did it. In that case, I wanted to change Panama’s relationship to their environment. They were practicing slash and burn agriculture, and I wanted to help them see their relationship to the rainforest in a new way. 15 years later when I returned on a visit, I saw that the country had largely shifted to ecotourism. My work occurred in a context that was receptive to it and many factors contributed to this change, but during that visit I was humbled and inspired to see the impact that I had helped to create.
In the case of SCC, I wanted to build a community of coaches. Even though we talk to people all day, coaches can become isolated. We work alone, and the conversations we have are focused on supporting our clients. So I wanted to create a place where we could hang out, be ourselves, and connect. I get curious now about how SCC will look 15 years from now — and who will have picked up the reins and moved the organization ahead through the upcoming chapters!