The Start of A New Coaching Wave – by Lisa Martin, PCC


I got into coaching 18 years ago — it was honestly pretty new then in a general business sense, but definitely in the Vancouver area. I initially started coaching because I had done the whole ‘corporate markers of success’ aspects of a career and had burned out. I discovered the power of coaching to elevate one’s leadership and life. And, I shifted my value-add to offering executive coaching.


Recently, I had the chance to MC the Vancouver ICF Prism Awards. I was thrilled — maybe even a bit emotional — about how far coaching had come from those days two decades ago to now, where organizations that fully embrace coaching and build coaching cultures are getting awards.


The theme of the event was ‘The Future Is Coaching,’ and I strongly believe that. I also think we’re at the beginning of a new coaching wave. What’s that specific wave going to look like? No one knows for absolutely sure, but here are some theories:


Coaching will not be automated out anytime soon: There are understandably growing concerns about automation and how it will impact businesses and humans. I don’t think coaches will get automated out quickly, as it’s an inherently personal, one-to-one relationship that technology would have a hard time replicating. As long as there are human leaders, I believe there will be human coaches.


More transparency about ROI: This has always been a stumbling block for coaching, whether companies are paying for external coaches or building an internal coaching infrastructure. There needs to be a clearer tie between ‘This is what we paid’ and ‘This is what we got.’ I believe most of coaching is about developing ‘soft skills’ but if we over-focus there and don’t make the connection to business results, the financial support for coaching will wain. Simply because its impact doesn’t seem quantifiable.


Clarifying priorities: One of the biggest concepts that needs to be embraced going forward is this idea of priority-setting. Many leaders and organizations are very bad at it, which ultimately leads to eroded revenue streams and burned-out employees. Helping your clients understand the big picture and ‘This project matters before this other project matters’ as opposed to responding to push/pull (i.e. emails and meetings) all week is a strong value-add for the coaching profession.


The 82 Percent Stat: This has been contested in some studies and embraced in others, but a year or two ago, Gallup found that 82 percent of managers end up being unsuccessful because they don’t possess the right talent for the role. (Gallup has also claimed only 10 percent of people who will become managers really have the skill set to do it effectively.) Even if you play with those numbers a little bit, it’s not a very rosy picture. You’ll see headlines from time to time about a ‘crisis of leadership’ and I do believe we’re there in some organizations. We won’t get out of that by adding more projects and KPIs to those leaders. We’ll get out of it by coaching them to be better at what needs to be done for themselves and their teams.
The future, thus, is coaching. Catch the wave.



Lisa Martin, PCC

Lisa Martin helps people discover how to be high-impact, thriving leaders. In addition to having authored 5 leadership books, she writes a leadership blog, coaches leaders 1:1, offers online leadership courses, keynotes on leadership, and licenses her Lead + Live Better™ leadership development programs to organizations. She has made it her mission to help companies keep and cultivate leaders.

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