The Agile Centre is a leading provider of Agile consultancy, assessments, training and business services and I recently had the great pleasure to speak at one of their regular Meetups to talk about Coaching Leaders through Uncertainty. You can watch the full webinar here: 

Here is an overview of the presentation:

The Growth of Coaching

In 2020, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) published its fourth major research project on the size and scope of the coaching profession. The 2020 ICF Global Coaching Study represents the largest study of its kind with 22, 457 responses from 161 countries and territories. This study shows that there are around 71,000 coach practitioners in the world which is a 33% increase since the last report in 2016 and there has been a sharp rise in managers and leaders using coaching skills at 15,900. The profession of coaching now also shows a global annual revenue of around $2.5 billion. Of those surveyed, 85% agree or strongly agree that a formal coaching qualification or credential is now an expectation and the biggest perceived risk to the profession is that of untrained individuals calling themselves coaches, which is particularly important in what is still a largely self-regulated profession.

Traditionally, the kinds of goals and topics that people bring into coaching include areas such as:

  • Optimising individual/teamwork performance
  • Improving communication skills
  • Increasing productivity
  • Expanding career opportunities
  • Increasing self-esteem/self-confidence
  • Managing work/life balance
  • Improving business management

Shifts and Trends

In my own coaching practice, over the last year, I have seen this list change quite significantly and it now tends to include more of the following:

  • Discomfort with not knowing what to do
  • Keeping staff engaged, connected, motivated
  • Maintaining own motivation, engagement
  • Managing wellbeing issues
  • Space to breathe, share
  • Ability to prioritise
  • Loss of confidence
  • Reviewing life goals

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, people had been commenting that we had entered a state of VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous), and we then found ourselves thrust into an even greater place of turmoil. These kinds of coaching topics simply highlight the challenge so many leaders have been facing to navigate the incredible amount and pace of change and its many consequential ripples. Pre-Covid, organisations were already reporting a state of constant change with continuously shifting priorities and strategies. However, the ICF’s study highlighted that 85% of organisations had experienced an unsuccessful change initiative in the previous three years.

During a period of change, the following kinds of activities have typically been deployed by organisations:

  • Classroom training
  • Web-based learning/e-learning
  • Face time with senior leaders

However, interestingly it is not these activities which appear to have the maximum positive impact on successfully facilitating change.

Becoming a High Performing Organisation

The Human Capital Institute (HCI) has established a range of business and people metrics to define what they call a High Performing Organisation (HPO). The HPOs involved in the ICF’s study clearly showed a different range of activities that were found to have the highest impact in facilitating change:

  • Group coaching with a professional coach
  • One-on-one coaching with a professional coach
  • Meeting with senior leaders
  • Action learning (OTJ)
  • Learning labs
  • Access to managers with coaching skills
  • Stretch assignments/Job rotations
  • Team coaching with a professional coach

At least four of these high impact activities involve coaching or the use of coaching skills. In addition, 61% of organisations considered to be HPOs also report having a strong coaching culture. The link between coaching and improved change management is strong. Not only this, organisations which use coaching as a strategic resource also tend to report an uplift in several important metrics:

Like many professions, coaching has not been totally immune to the impact of COVID-19. However, the ICF’s most recent research into Covid-19 and the Coaching Industry has shown that 41% of businesses felt that the pandemic had a limited negative effect on coaching. What’s more, there is a growing sense that coaching is in fact growing and evolving even more rapidly in response to the challenges being faced.

As many organisations are still battling to survive during these difficult times, and we also still have the mountain to climb toward economic recovery, now is the time, more than ever before, to bring coaching and coaching skills into your organisation to help you successfully navigate your future!

Tracy Sinclair Ltd. supports organisations to develop the potential of their people through coaching, coaching skills and coaching culture. Our Coaching with Conscience services specialise in offering coaching and coaching related services in support of positive social impact and social progress. Connect with us today to set up a consultation for your organization.

Tracy Sinclair, MCC

Tracy Sinclair, MCC is co-founder and CEO of Coach Advancement by Tracy Sinclair. She co-authored Becoming a Coach: The Essential ICF Guide (2020) and hosts the Coaching in Conversation podcast. In 2020, she founded Coaching with Conscience to have a positive impact on society and our environment through coaching.

Tracy is dedicated to the development of the coaching profession and the coaching community and has served in both local and global boards and workgroups for the International Coaching Federation. She was awarded an ICF Coaching Impact Award for Distinguished Coach in 2023, named one of the Leading Global Coaches of the Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Coaching Awards (2019, 2021), and was a finalist for the Thinkers50 Coaching and Mentoring Award (2021). She is also a member of the Marshall Goldsmith 100Coaches and a trained coaching supervisor, mentor coach and ICF assessor.

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