Executive coaching began in the US but in the last few years it has been sweeping through meeting rooms across Europe because employing a coach to help your career move forward makes perfect sense in today’s marketplace. Companies with a strong coaching culture are more at ease implementing change and engaging in meaningful business relationships, both of which are paramount to success in 2018.

Helping to improve confidence, communication and create vitality in the workforce alongside assisting in big career changes, coaching has become a sought-after service and therefore a popular career choice for many. As many companies continue to grapple with the digital age, the global coaching industry has grown rapidly with more than 53,300 professional coach practitioners generating nearly $2.4 billion in revenue. This is a 19% increase since 2011; and while business leaders continue to look for the next big thing in learning and development, the industry remains fraught with conflicts of interest and blurry lines around the application and authority of coaches, with the lack of firm regulations and protocols a tangible cause for on-going debate. While coaching as a business tool continues to gain legitimacy in 2018, the coaching field is unfettered for professionals, and consequently can be problematic for consumers to navigate.

Nevertheless, there is certainly a need to modernise the approaches to workplace learning as e-learning, one-size-fits all training and traditional strategies don’t always reflect the new ways in which people are up skilling and working. For example, attending whole-day courses or weekly workshops may be a burden on an already busy schedule, whereas coaching, with its non-directive approach, builds a trusting and equal partnership in which people can flourish and realise their true potential. The modern workforce is also in a state of flux, and while traditionally people stayed in one job for the majority of their working life, it’s increasingly common to see people float from one job role to another, never sticking with one company for long. This fluidity can cause major problems for growing businesses wanting to retain high quality employees, and where coaching can play a big role in your staff retention strategy.

Think about the team you lead or the colleagues you work alongside. Their talent and knowledge may be undisputed but the challenge for business leaders’ today is to keep staff motivated, engaged and productive. Coaching is important if you are a manager, but it is also an indispensable tool for inspiring and empowering individuals at every level of an organisation. Traditionally, coaching was for top executives and focused on developing the capabilities of high-potential performers, but the goals of coaching – to facilitate learning, offer opportunities for growth and encourage continuous development – are ones that employees at all levels could benefit from. Enlisting the help of a coach or implementing coaching practices shows you care about your staff, value their contribution and want them to reach their full potential. Furthermore, instilling a coaching culture generally translates into more interested, communicative and involved employees that will, in turn, boost growth and productivity, allowing the business to remain competitive.

Merely managing employees work in today’s business landscape is no longer enough to keep talents engaged and the huge increase in technology in recent years has led to a breakdown in communication skills in the boardroom. With this declining human interaction, managers in innovative, successful companies need to be able to coach and inspire, and organisations should deploy a strategy that allows coaching to permeate throughout. Marshall Goldsmith, a renowned executive coach in the US, wrote a book called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, highlighting the need for continuous development for all staff.

While the numbers continue to rise, there’s no definitive answer on how many executive coaches there are in Britain. There are 2,636 people who call themselves executive coaches on LinkedIn, but it is hard to know how legitimate they all are. Credibility in this field is very important, and approximately 89% of coach practitioners attend accredited or approved coach-specific training, typically making greater annual revenue from coaching than their credential-less counterparts. Choosing the right coach for your employees, or indeed, the right coaching accreditation if you wanted to become a coach yourself, is fundamental to success. The three main professional bodies to gain accreditation or to locate a qualified coach from – the Association for Coaching (members from more than 40 countries), the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (5,000 members across 67 countries and 20 affiliated countries) and the International Coach Federation (https://coachfederation.org) have more than 19,000 members in more than 100 countries- have formed a global alliance, which has created some much needed clarity in the world of coaching and mentoring, where untrained individuals who call themselves coaches remain a sticking point within the industry. Over 4/5 of clients’ value certification as a professional standard of quality assurance and customers report better results working with certified coaches.

While the global network for professional coaches is going from strength to strength, advances in technology, a volatile geopolitical landscape and the increasing influence of younger generations in the workplace have significant implications for the future of coaching. Leaders who encourage personal connections will have more committed, satisfied and productive workers, and companies like GSK are already reaping the rewards, reporting a return on investment of $66 million from their Coaching Centre of Excellence, that makes coaching available to their employees’ worldwide.

For global businesses to thrive in a post-Brexit world, they will need their leaders to perform at a world-class level.  An experienced executive coach can measure strengths and weaknesses, develop leadership competencies and act as an impartial sounding board, offering new perspectives to the table. They will help clients enhance their strategic thinking and improve their productivity. A PWC survey of global coaching clients concluded that the mean ROI for companies investing in coaching was seven times the investment and over one quarter of respondents reported an ROI of 10 to 49 times. These are good odds.

With those kinds of returns, it’s no wonder that executive coaching is in hot demand.

Maintaining High Standards
Coaching is fast approaching either self-regulation or government regulation.  If coaching self-regulates, it will be through the International Coaching Federation (ICF).  If coaching becomes government regulated, the ICF will be a main player. Either way gaining accreditation is a growing necessity in this growing industry and the ICF holds the gold-standard in coach certifications. Offering three credentials – Associate, Professional and Master Certified Coach – the ICF, the world’s largest professional coaching association, provides an external and objective validation of training programs and coaches, offering vital knowledge and skills to this growing community.