By Jonathan Kirschner, Psy.D. • February 2, 2014

Where will executive coaching go in 2014?

We asked the AIIR Global Coaching Alliance “What trends will emerge in the year ahead for the practice of executive coaching? Three primary themes emerged:

  1. Coaching must first and foremost deliver business value - and fast
  2. There is an increasing need to qualify coaches in an market that has become saturated with coaches
  3. Increased utilization of technology as companies shift their priority from high-touch to immediacy, global accessibility, and greater value

I. Coaching must add business value in a limited timeframe
Business ValueNearly 65% of coaches foresaw an increased need to measure the ROI of coaching. According to AIIR's Head of India, Rajeev Raju, “Coaches will have to show confidence in turning the dilemmas around more quickly than ever before; time is of the essence and ROI has to become far more apparent as organizations tighten their purse strings.”

In the view of Dr. Jeff Kaplan, there will be a “continued emphasis on highly focused and time-limited coaching initiatives around one or a few developmental issues” as opposed to “loosely limited and broadly defined initiatives.” Furthermore, he states that there will be an “increased emphasis on coaching expertise” where “coaches will need to deliver content, not just ask powerful questions.”

II. Qualify coaches among an increasingly saturated market
hanging-shingleAccording to Merom Klein, “As more seasoned execs retire, we will see lots of them hanging out shingles and calling themselves coaches.” What this - and many responses like it - suggests is that a new class of coaches are increasingly displacing the older generation, and that the ability to quickly re-brand your career to ‘coach’ has never been more easy. This has resulted in a supply of coaches that outweighs demand. This poses challenges for organizations who need highly qualified coaches for all the regions of their business, at their fingertips, and identifying qualified coaches will be an increasing challenge for HR leaders.

According to Dr. Kirschner, “The amount of certification programs and marketing messages from these associations that promote the great wealth-potential of becoming an executive coach has led to a situation where the supply [of coaches] is disconnected from demand. To become a coach, the barriers to entry are simply time and money for a certification - not talent, experience, or robust training. As such, identifying a qualified coach in today’s market is an unbelievable challenge., and the value of partnering with coaching organizations that maintain rigorous qualification standards will become increasingly important in ensuring quality and managing risk.”

III. Increased Utilization of Technology
telepresence newExecutives being coached today are younger, extremely adept at technology, globally focused, and don’t operate within the traditional paradigm of work/life balance. With telepresence technology becoming an increasingly viable option for meaningful interpersonal interaction (and physical travel not becoming significantly cheaper/more convenient), coaches must learn to use and leverage technology more frequently and effectively. If organizations are cutting costs (or allocating fewer resources to leadership development), it is unlikely they will be keen on paying for a coach’s travel time and expenses when there are technology solutions that can enable the same deliverables to occur with the same results. Over 70% of our respondents cited the increasing use of technology in executive coaching as an important need for 2014.

In Rachel Benyola’s view, “Video conferencing will be a more common practice for emerging and existing leadership to resolve time constraints and heighten communication quality between coach and coachee.” According to Jonathan Kirschner, “The recent advances in telepresence technology will increasingly make telephone coaching sessions obsolete.”

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