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Alicia Hullinger explores the gig economy and its impact on the coaching industry. Image description: woman in black coat wearing sunglasses

Embracing the gig economy: A paradigm shift in coaching

Executive Director/VP, Alicia Hullinger, Ph.D., explores how emerging trends like the gig economy are shaping work at the ICF Thought Leadership Institute and in the coaching industry at large.

The gig economy is transforming the future of work and coaching practice

As the Editor in Chief and Executive Director/VP of the ICF Thought Leadership Institute (TLI), I recognize that we are at the forefront of an inspiring transformation within the coaching profession. Our upcoming series of articles delves into the Gig Economy and how this global trend is reshaping our field. Acknowledging the challenges and potential pitfalls that come with the Gig Economy, as I reflect on this trend, I see how our work at TLI not only reflects but also leverages the opportunities presented by the Gig Economy. Our approach to work is also informed by our Futures Thinking Framework.

The Gig Economy, characterized by short-term contracts, freelance work, and remote arrangements, has undeniably brought about its unique set of challenges in the modern workforce. However, it also signifies a paradigm shift in the making, where we are presented with an opportunity to reevaluate traditional work structures. At TLI, we are not just adapting, we are leveraging the Gig Economy’s potential for transformation in order to thrive within this new landscape.

Flexibility and adaptability

At TLI, we embrace the Gig Economy ethos by constructing a dynamic team that embodies the essence of adaptability. We have two dedicated full-time staff members, Genevieve Feliú and Catherine Galli , who provide the core foundation for our operations. Beyond that, we engage with a network of skilled contractors who bring their unique expertise to our projects. In addition, we open our doors to college interns, providing them with valuable experience in a professional setting.

This model not only allows us to harness diverse talents but also remains aligned with our commitment to the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. By creating a flexible and adaptable workforce, we ensure that our team is representative of the multifaceted world we aim to impact positively.

Work-life balance

The Gig Economy presents us with the concept of work-life balance. At TLI, we wholeheartedly endorse this philosophy. Remote work and flexible scheduling are integral components of our operational structure. We understand that productivity flourishes when employees have the autonomy to create their ideal work environment. Our team members, be they full-time staff, contractors, or interns, have the liberty to manage their schedules. This not only enhances their overall well-being but also empowers them to perform at their best. The result is a workforce that is not just committed but also genuinely content.

Coaching opportunities

In our commitment to modeling a coaching mindset, TLI goes beyond research and thought leadership. We actively provide coaching and team coaching opportunities to empower the growth and development of our team members and organization. These opportunities not only enrich our role as a proactive institution but also demonstrate our dedication to developing the whole person within the context of the Gig Economy. By offering these opportunities, we not only understand emerging trends within this transformative paradigm but also lead by example in actively shaping coaching practices to thrive within the Gig Economy.

Connecting the dots

In the Gig Economy, the ability to connect the dots between various components of a project is invaluable. Systems thinking is significant in this landscape, and TLI embodies this ethos. Our work is not confined to isolated silos; rather, we approach every initiative with a holistic, integrated perspective.

We bring together experts from different domains to explore the intersection of coaching with various facets of life and work. This interdisciplinary approach is essential in our quest to shape the future of coaching. It allows us to identify emerging trends and adapt to the evolving needs of our profession.

Futures thinking in coaching

Futures thinking, as described in the TLI STEERE Model, aligns closely with a coaching approach and provides profound insights and benefits to individuals and society as a whole. It encourages coaches to explore potential future scenarios, analyze trends, and make informed decisions based on an understanding of possible outcomes.

By incorporating futures thinking into coaching, we empower individuals to anticipate change, make strategic decisions, foster innovation, build resilience, promote ethical and sustainable practices, and engage as active participants in shaping our desired future. This approach aligns seamlessly with the coaching principle of helping individuals tap into their inner potential, clarify their goals, and create actionable strategies that align with their envisioned future.

The Gig Economy represents not just a trend but a transformative force in the world of work. At the ICF Thought Leadership Institute, we embrace this paradigm shift. Our flexible, adaptable, and diverse team embodies the principles of the Gig Economy, while our commitment to work-life balance, modeling the way, connecting the dots, and futures thinking propels us forward.

As we embark on our journey to explore the Gig Economy’s impact on coaching, we do so with a sense of purpose and enjoyment. Our work at TLI reflects the opportunities that this evolving landscape presents, and we remain dedicated to being the change we want to see in the world. As we move forward together, we can shape a future where coaching thrives in the dynamic landscape of the Gig Economy.

Alicia Hullinger, PhD
30 October 2023

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