Will AI Kill Executive Coaching?

For the past dozen years the very existence of established professions have been threatened in what feels a blink of an eye. Eliminated by innovation and automation. I wonder: Will AI Kill Executive Coaching?

It’s in our nature as humans to be curious and push innovation. But are we ready for the results?

Will AI Kill Executive Coaching?

As I read this intriguing article from Michael Schrage, I had an eyebrow raising moment. My very own profession of executive coaching may be threatened by AI (artificial intelligence). Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised. I suppose we all think we’re indispensable in some way.

The future Schrage describes includes AI that actually augments reality in a way that helps increase self-awareness and discipline. Just as our current wearable fitness hardware and software (fitbit, apple watch etc) help us to improve physically, the future AI he sees helps us (along with assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana) become better at leading teams, organizations, and ourselves.

Don’t Panic. Be A Coach!

Honestly, I had to force myself to read the entire article. Don’t get me wrong, the article is brilliant – but it challenges my very profession! As soon as I read about ‘augmenting introspection’ my mind had already jumped to negative conclusions.

Don’t panic, I thought. Be a coach! How can I challenge my assumption that AI will kill executive coaching? What powerful question would I ask my client in this situation?

Powerful Question: What about this possible future is helpful to me, my mission, and my profession?

I realized the future Schrage describes fit tightly with my professional mission to help as many professionals as possible become their best selves so they can deliver their best work. Self-awareness and self-discipline are essential elements to that mission. I believe If we each are able to deliver at our best, a higher quality of work through our unique individual contributions, we all benefit.

Crunching The Numbers

The coaches I work with have similar goals: to change the world with coaching – one person at a time. A daunting task considering the numbers.

There are about 7.5 billion humans on earth. The International Coach Federation (ICF) reports around 21 thousand certified professional coaches globally*. Divided evenly that would be around 357,000 clients per coach or about 10,500 per year per coach (assuming a 35 year career as a coach). That’s not going to happen.

Coaching is a high-touch, high-engagement approach to behavior change. And we all know that change – significant behavior change – takes time and effort, practice, feedback, introspection, self-awareness, and discipline.

In short – we need help!

AI As a Coaching Tool

The majority of professional coaches chose the profession because they want to help others. Maybe AI is a way to expand your reach as a coach. What if this future allows for coaches to help leaders use the coaching approach as a way of leading? Can we create a coaching movement with A.I. as the ‘boots on the ground’ to help us reach more people around the world?

Doesn’t everyone deserve the benefits of coaching?

It won’t be an easy change, but I for one am going to remain open what A.I. can do for me, my clients, and for you.

Full disclosure: I have been a member of ICF since 2001 and am certified at the PCC level as well as a mentor coach with ICF.

* The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization for professionally trained coaches. ICF is dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high ethical standards, providing independent certication and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches.