Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.
This was my initial reaction to a recent article by Josh Bersin, Online coaching is so hot it’s now disrupting leadership development, where he explores how AI is transforming the way coaching is delivered – and to whom.
Now, I believe in the power of AI and the amazing things it can do to drive the HR agenda in ways that we’ve never dreamed possible. Here at OrgShakers, for example, we are using the latest developments in AI and machine learning to identify, map, and source hard-to-find talent.
But I was shocked when Bersin pointed out that AI might be able to monitor online coaching sessions to help coaches (and coachees) focus on the key issues – and even ‘give nudges’ to both parties to guide discussion during the actual session.
Am I stuck with a fixed mindset? Would this mean having to let go of some of the principles that are fundamental in a coaching relationship? I’m so used to the coachee bringing the agenda for the session. And what would this mean for the confidentiality of the coaching?
Then I started to reflect on another key point raised by Bersin – that the growth of companies like BetterUp, Torch, CoachHub, and SoundingBoard is ‘democratizing coaching’.
I can see that their business model certainly has advantages for companies wanting to provide coaching for more of their employees. However, I think online coaching is only one route to a more inclusive coaching culture.
The ease of availability and the lower costs delivered by online coaching are not exclusive to these providers. We’re all used to coaching virtually now and, while I’m starting to see some clients in person again, I will continue to work with many clients remotely.
Maybe it’s because I’m writing this having just come from a presentation by the truly inspirational Stephen Frost (a globally-recognized diversity, inclusion, and leadership expert) that I’m wondering whether this approach really can achieve ‘coaching for all’ – the kind of coaching that Senior Executives have benefited from for years.
Previously I’ve written about the pandemic leading to more people being able to access coaching. Coaching definitely becomes more accessible if we offer one-off, on-demand sessions or the ability to contract for a few hours.
So, as we think about embracing online coaching, I suppose I have two asks! That we are clear on what’s on offer. And that we don’t lose the value and quality of a true coaching partnership.
Only then can we be sure whether (or not) we should.