The future of coaching
This year’s Leaderex was held at the Sandton Convention Centre in early September. It provided an opportunity for business leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs to learn about the digital future, explore career opportunities and investigate learning options.
As Chairperson of Research at COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa), I was asked to facilitate a panel discussion with a group of well-known senior coaches on a topic of my choice. I chose something that has been on my mind for some time now: The future of professional coaching, within the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). What I have been contemplating was how professional coaches can stay relevant to business leaders who are faced with the challenges of this digital revolution.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been asking questions about the impact of the 4IR for some time now. Take a look at this article by Klaus Schwab for a broad overview. Some of the main themes are the impact of accelerating innovation on business, and the velocity of disruption to business processes, models, value chains, marketing approaches, research and sales.
Business leaders need to understand this environment and the impact thereof on business, government and people. Schwab warns:
- ‘In its most pessimistic, dehumanized form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotize” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul.’
- ‘Constant connection may deprive us of one of life’s most important assets: the time to pause, reflect, and engage in meaningful conversation.’
- ‘In the end, it all comes down to people and values. We need to shape a future that works for all of us by putting people first and empowering them.
The panel discussion centred on the human aspect of coaches and how we can support business leaders from the following perspectives:
- A large component of professional coaching includes values and ethics. Coaches can support leaders to maintain their integrity during stressful and uncertain times. Innovation needs to be kept on track to benefit humanity, making a values-based approach a necessity.
- Professional coaching reminds us of the benefits of taking time to pause, to think, to reflect, and to engage with others in a meaningful manner.
- As professional coaches, we need to keep up our game with continuing professional development (CPD) activities. This includes formal studies, self-learning, reading, expanding our general knowledge, and coaching supervision.
When I asked the panel how coaches can convince business leaders to make use of coaches and mentors during these difficult times, three words came back that gave me pause for thought: “Because we care.” We care for the people we coach; we hold them safe in the coaching space; we provide them with opportunities to learn, solve and reflect.
Artificial Intelligence does not care. Coaches do.
If you find yourself at a point in your career where you experience the need to make an impact on people, with people and for people, training as a coach can certainly put you on the right track to satisfy that need. To be of benefit to business leaders, because you care.