TLI Global Board Chair, Anna Gallotti, MCC, reflects on the significance of the role of technology in the future of coaching and evokes questions for the profession to consider.
TLI Board Member
USA and France
The integration of coaching and technology reimagines the future of human development
In the ever-evolving landscape of coaching, significant changes are reshaping a growing profession. Coaching is no longer limited to executives; it has become a sought-after resource at all levels, addressing diverse needs such as anxiety, stress, and personal fulfillment. The advent of coaching platforms and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) further highlight the changing dynamics of the field. As the International Coaching Federation (ICF) Thought Leadership Institute (TLI), our mission is to explore the future of coaching and its potential impact on work, education, planetary ecology, and coaching itself which serve as the core themes of our collections.
For our first Future of Coaching Collection in September 2021, TLI hosted coaching scholars and leaders at our first Convening. The three sessions focused on: (1) the desired outcomes of coaching; (2) the process and mechanism of coaching; and (3) coaching for people from distinctive cultures, genders, and context. In 2021, we started a discussion on the role of AI in the field of coaching, but this technology at that time was not poised to be a major disrupter. Today, chatbots have become increasingly sophisticated, and with the emergence of technologies that can replicate human conversation, Generative AI is transforming coaching practice.
In June 2023, TLI launched its latest Future of Coaching Collection titled Integrating Human and Artificial/Machine Intelligence in the Future of Coaching. This Collection examines the challenges and opportunities that advanced technologies and artificial intelligence bring to the field of coaching. By exploring the newest advancements, we chart a path for coaches to consider how resources like AI, virtual reality, and cloud-based communication platforms can support, supplement, or transform coaching practices.
“While the interface of human intelligence and artificial/machine intelligence has been viewed by many as the future of coaching, it actually represents our current reality. Instead of viewing this development as ‘the battle of human coaches versus coaching bots,’ the coaching profession will be better served if we maintain a creative and open mind regarding the ways in which human and artificial intelligence might most effectively be combined to enhance both the practice and accessibility of coaching.”Wisdom Weaver and TLI Board Member Dr. Melvin Smith, BCC
Our new Future of Coaching Collection provides a comprehensive overview of the current and future uses of some of the emerging technologies in coaching practices. We take a closer look at potential threats and ethical challenges that can arise with the integration of technology. Over the next few months, we will continue to examine this topic further with additional articles and spotlights. We invite you to engage with our articles, with the hope that they will stimulate new thoughts and perspectives.
“Artificial intelligence offers coaches the potential to gain deeper insights into the people they serve and to empower the coaching relationship with tools that offer a pathway to goal achievement for coaches. Just as was the case with the first automobile AI comes with assets and deficits. But the future belongs to those who can drive.”Wisdom Weaver and TLI Board Member Donna Eiby
In this collection, we address the risks, concerns, and opportunities arising from a collaboration between coaching and technology:
Preserving Data Security in Coaching: As coaching becomes increasingly intertwined with technology, it raises concerns about safeguarding the confidentiality and security of coaching conversations, as well as storing coaching objectives and action plans on digital platforms. With the rise of cybercrime and cyber insecurity, protecting the privacy of our private and intimate lives becomes crucial. Confidentiality is a paramount principle in the ICF Code of Ethics, and it prompts us to ask where this information is stored and how we can ensure its safety.
” Coaching is a fundamentally human endeavor, but it is one that functions within the context of a world now driven by digital technology. As the pace of technological advancement continues to accelerate, we must embrace the potential for rapidly evolving generative AI technologies to enhance our ability to deploy coaching services in ways never imagined. As a profession and an industry, it is incumbent upon us to proactively explore the evolving capabilities of AI while keeping a keen eye on both known and unknown ethical ramifications.”TLI Board Member Dr. Woody Woodward, PCC
Exploring Technological Advancements in Coaching: One crucial aspect of the changing coaching landscape is the integration of technology and its implications. How is technology transforming coaching practices, and what are the potential outcomes? Does technology, with features like remote online coaching and AI-assisted coaching, democratize access to coaching? Or does the digital divide deepen existing disparities in areas such as education, work, and social connectivity, especially for those without access to advanced technology and the internet?
“The future of coaching embraces a powerful synergy between human coaches and AI assistance. By leveraging AI’s capacity to analyze extensive data and provide personalized insights, coaching becomes accessible to broader audiences. However, it is crucial to prioritize ethical use of AI and bias mitigation as critical focus areas. This necessitates the establishment of ethical guidelines that promote fairness, transparency, and accountability in decision-making processes, ensuring responsible use of technology for the best interest of individuals.”TLI Board Member Pinar Dolen
Coaching as a Support for Mental Health: Mental health challenges, particularly among the younger generation, have reached alarming levels. With an estimated 49.5% of adolescents experiencing mental health issues at some point in their lives, could coaching play a supporting role in addressing these concerns? While coaches without specialized training in psychology cannot treat mental illnesses, they can offer relief, empathetic listening, and help implement healthy solutions. Considering the intersection of coaching and technology, scalability may present an opportunity to expand the reach of health coaching interventions.
“The inquisitive brain of the human being has allowed us to constantly advance the frontiers of our technological capabilities. It started with fire; and now AI is just the latest in that journey. But what we are best at, what we must never lose sight of, is our human qualities of empathy and care. The AI revolution, which we sit on the cusp of today, provides coaches with the greatest opportunity in generations. Combining the unique perspectives that our human emotions allow, with the scale and reach of technology, creating the biggest impact for the people we serve.”Wisdom Weaver and TLI Board Member Dr. Marcus Ranney
Empowering Education Through Coaching: The education sector represents another domain where scalable coaching interventions can have a profound impact. Today, the pursuit of academic excellence and career prospects is fiercely competitive, and the demands on students are increasing. A study even demonstrates that chatbot coaching powered by AI can be as effective as human coaching in defining and following through on action plans to succeed in exams. Education research indicates that skills have a limited lifespan. Coaching can play a pivotal role in fostering a growth mindset that promotes flexible, continuous learning.
“A promising collaboration exists between human intelligence and artificial intelligence that may transform the coaching industry. Coaches can utilize automation afforded by AI technology for increasing productivity with clients who matter most. By embracing this collaboration of AI technology within overall strategy implementation, coaches can diversify methods resulting in broadened capabilities. For example, coaches can partner with AI to design more powerful questions to use in a coaching session and help clients create their SMART goals. Integrating AI into the practices of professional coaches will offer improved support to clients.”Wisdom Weaver and TLI Board Member Dr. José Justel, MCC
The Future of Coaching series delves into these pressing topics and provides fresh insights that challenge conventional thinking. We invite you to engage with our articles in hopes that they foster critical thinking and highlight new perspectives. Our goal is for you to say, “I never considered this,” or “I hadn’t thought about it from this angle.” We here at TLI are committed to advancing coaching practices, exploring new frontiers, and provoking meaningful discussions.
Anna Gollotti, MCC,
June 26, 2023