The Changing face of Executive Coaching

Executive CoachingLet’s face it, executive coaching works better face to face. The facts say so too, according to a recent Ridler report only 42% of those surveyed thought remote coaching was effective. There was one odd spike though, it turns out that if you start face to face and build that bond of trust and rapport, you can carry it with you into other realms of coaching. A staggering 82% of those surveyed said they’d seen an improvement through Skype coaching if they met their coach in the flesh first.

It makes sense, a huge part of coaching requires physical presence and the reading of both micro body signals and subtle verbal clues. It builds trust and empathy and can help to unlock hidden barriers. Coaching via conference call, Skype or some other online medium struggles to replicate the intimacy of being in the same room. However, if the coach can make contact, at least in the first instance, then the benefits of remote coaching can finally break through…. and there are some pretty nifty benefits.

Cost is the biggest consideration and for that alone it’s perhaps worth putting remote coaching back on the agenda. Then again, if cost is the main motivator, you have to ask yourself are you considering coaching for all the right reasons.

Executive coaching has long been a friend to the most successful firms. Forward-thinking firms that embrace new ideas and new technologies are keen early-adopters of coaching in all its forms.

One new technology for executive coaching may be virtual reality. The problem in the past with remote coaching is the lack of interaction. VR may not be the perfect solution to the problem, but it might just allow for a more personal experience. The VR coach and the subject could both be rendered in real time in a shared space. They would be able to see the same things are the shared perspective might allow for a more natural viewing angle enabling the coach to look for tells, read body language and basically build rapport.

The technology is still in early stages, but the sheer amount of money being poured into VR at the moment suggests that nothing will be off the cards for long. Virtual reality (VR) and its cousin Augmented Reality (AR… also known as mixed reality), are already being used by educators to teach young and old a variety of skills. From Labster’s award-winning virtual laboratory sim to a university looking into allowing doctors to use VR to follow real-life surgeries.

Will coaches soon be able to sit in virtual lounges with their actual subjects and work out virtual action plans based on real scenarios… and all without leaving their prospective offices? Sounds a little far-fetched? Well, wait until we really get going. Imagine if the coach was just a virtual construct too? Try to picture an AI (artificial intelligence) capable of analysing our every movement and reply. Imagine a machine capable of detecting our every emotional response, our pulse rate and incapable of missing a trick. Think about where that could lead.

It might all seem a little science fiction, but remember tech giants Sony are doing everything in their power to ensure there’s a VR headset in every home with their Playstation VR. If you think VR and AI are just for fun, don’t forget that we live in a world where a university student built an AI chat-bot capable of fighting and overturning over 160,000 parking fines. We may not be ready for Star Trek ‘holo-deck style adventures or jaunts around the Matrix, but we might be heading for a revolution in the way we tackle executive coaching and other forms of experiential training, coaching and mentoring.

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