The Future of Coaching
The Digital Age has created a world without frontiers, an unbounded universe where there is no such thing as too much information. Clients, and indeed coaches themselves, are struggling with the limits of time, energy, knowledge and belief. As technological innovation multiplies we are all required to upgrade our operating systems, to become ever more efficient human beings. The rising generation of “digital natives” (Prensky 2001) – Generation Y – do indeed have distinctly different behaviours, values and attitudes from previous generations. In particular, they are detached from institutions and particularly well networked with friends. The world has changed and, as the world shifts, so too must our paradigms.
What then is the essence of coaching? At heart, coaching is an intimate conversation, whether with a single individual or several people,
that leads to behavioural change. In an age where social robots with simulated empathy are created to alleviate loneliness, an age in which we increasingly expect more from technology and less from each other, the real relationship and deep listening of the coaching experience will become ever scarcer. Digital communication already encourages us to sacrifice conversation for mere connection. As the psychologist and cultural analyst Sherry Turkle (2012) reminds us, “what technology makes easy is not always what nurtures the human spirit.”
Clients turn to coaches to learn how to raise their game. As coaches, we must strive also to transform our own game, our core skills, our assumptions and tools, our business practice, our models of human potential and organisational growth, in order to help business leaders to do the same. Technology gets a bad rap for disconnecting us from each other and making human interaction less personal. It threatens mediocre coaches with extinction as they run the risk of replacement by app. But the thing is this: as coaches in the digital age we can choose to invent new coaching methodologies, to embrace multi-disciplinary scientific discovery, to reconnect with ancient wisdom, to apply futurist thought and seize the opportunity to transform human happiness and success on an unprecedented scale.