The rise of the business coach

Gina Lodge, CEO of the Academy of Executive Coaching,
looks at how coaching has changed over the past 20 years and
explains why it is so important to help nurture your employees’
potential, create an innovative company culture and, ultimately, grow your business.

Autumn-Issue0819-istockpage30
Autumn 2019 issue of Relocate magazine
This article is taken from the latest issue of Relocate magazine 
– the must-read for HR, global managers and relocation professionals.As we move into an era of business where collaboration outperforms competition as a strategy for success, the use of coaching has never been more appropriate. Twenty years ago, it was quite different. The coaching concept was in its infancy and there was a real lack of understanding about it, both socially and in business.At the time, our founder John Leary-Joyce had felt that executive coaching was a natural fit with his leadership and group/team facilitation work, so had reduced his clinical practice to work as a coach. The Academy of Executive Coaching’s (AoEC) origins come from Leary-Joyce’s vision, as he realised that while foundational courses were available, nothing took coaches into the deeper psychological area while applying it in a business context.The company has grown very much in tandem with the coaching industry itself. Coaching is now universally accepted as a proven leadership and management development tool, but it is really in the last few years that it is being used across businesses rather than reserved for those in the C-Suite. It is now steadily utilised more as a core leadership and management skill, as leadership styles shift from the ‘command and control’ model to one of autonomy and inclusion.

Getting the best from your workforce

As we’ve seen over our company’s lifetime, the market is maturing both in the understanding of coaching and the sophistication of the product and the audience. Coaches need to hold professional credentials and that means accredited training and adhering to best-practice standards.Millions have been spent on leadership development and change programmes, and businesses are now beginning to realise coaching that can bring more effective change. One of the biggest step changes recently has been a rise in the use of team coaching. This is being brought about by organisations moving to a collective leadership framework, the use of remote workers or having teams working in different time zones, as companies look to teamwork to help better create, drive and deliver innovation and value for the customer. Coaching also works well across different cultures and technology has provided the opportunity of a greater reach.The pace of change continues to be an enormous driver in the need for coaching, as organisations increasingly find themselves having to adopt new ways of operating in unpredictable, taxing conditions. The fourth industrial revolution is here and as companies implement new technologies to improve efficiency and reduce costs, they’re often left with the challenge of how best to use their workforces.
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Recognising your employee potential

In the wake of automation and AI, the business world is discovering the importance of employee potential and this is having a marked influence on many aspects of how companies operate and serve their markets. Employers are slowly catching onto the fact that their workforces are often their most underutilised resource and there are better ways of motivating them to perform rather than offering inflated pay and benefits.Many are seeing the advantages of changing the way they work and are taking measures to address this. Coaching, for example, is being used to improve employee engagement, build better cultures and provide employees with access to further learning and development opportunities, so they can make a more significant contribution to the business.The industry is sometimes described as being saturated with coaches, but we’ve seen no real evidence of this. There is a trend for more organisations to bring coaching in-house to increase availability, but the real need is for global companies to have access to consistent standards – regardless of where their employees are based in the world. This has had a big impact on the AoEC brand and we’ve undergone a global expansion over the last ten years, with a dedicated consultancy team and offices in 14 locations to serve the global marketplace.

Coaching creates innovative cultures

Coaching has truly crossed to the mainstream. It’s no longer considered by some as a remedial tool, but one that helps high performers reach new heights, supports organisations in challenging times and focuses on the principles of adult learning by enabling people to set their own learning agenda and try new things.There’s an excellent quote from Vlatka Hlupic’s book The Management Shift, which says, “Engaged employees who feel passionate about their work create innovative cultures, but can be held back by outdated management practices.” I think this gives a strong insight into the future direction businesses need to take. Irrespective of technological advances, organisations must put humanity back into their processes and practices – and coaching can help them do that.
The AoEC exists to both provide the highest quality accredited coach training to individuals and to manage culture change at all levels of an organisation with both small and large scale developments.
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