When I was 12, my father enrolled me in a Little League baseball team….and I was undoubtedly the worst player.

During that first season my bat didn’t even “foul tip” a single pitch, let alone produce a hit. I was also prone to errors during the occasional innings when the coach (probably reluctantly) sent me out to right or left field.

Determined to help me improve, Dad took me to the empty ball fields on the weekends, pitched to me, and hit countless fly balls in my direction. I gradually started to hit his pitches far more effectively than I would ever fare against the young teenagers on the Little League mounds; but I did develop a strength for catching and throwing the baseball that translated well in real games.

I can still visualize my father and I on the baseball fields. Reflecting on my childhood in general, it’s hard to think of anything I’d love to do again more than playing catch with my dad. (I see you, Field of Dreams!)

Dad wasn’t just my father. He was my first “coach.”

Coaching 101

In a professional or business context there’s usually two “types” of coaches: Professional coaches, usually with extensive training, experience, and credentials; and people managers or influencers within an organization who coach their employees or other colleagues.

Regarding professional coaching, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” This involves the coach facilitating the client’s self-determining and self-directed change, through supportive actions such as but not limited to:

  • Assisting clients in identifying what they want and finding the paths to achieve it
  • Pointing out potential choices and helping clients make conscious decisions
  • Facilitating goal setting and behavioral change
  • Providing accountability
  • Promoting individual responsibility

I think those same types of actions are applicable in the context of people leaders or others coaching as part of their jobs. Better Up asserts, “Not all leaders need to be coaches. It’s increasingly critical, however, that managers be effective coaches. That doesn’t mean they will act in the same capacity as expert coaches but that they can adopt a coaching approach to managing direct reports.”

Coaching works!

Coaching has been widely verified (see this Forbes article as one example), through both quantitative and qualitative data, to lead to a person’s increased motivation and self-accountability; more clarity and self-awareness; better decision-making; stronger relationships; and enhanced well-being.

Furthermore, ICF’s return-on-investment (ROI) studies have indicated that coaching can produce a 70% increase in individual performance, a 50% increase in team performance, and a 48% increase in organizational performance.

Human and AI collaboration

Coaching clients, or employees being coached within an organization, can benefit when coaches collaborate with AI to enhance their coaching processes. AI tools can assist in assessing leadership skills by analyzing data from various sources, providing valuable insights for personalized coaching plans. Inaddition, chatbots can offer on-demand support and guidance to executives, helping them address challenges and set goals; and data analytics can track progress and identify areas for improvement.

However, the “human touch” of a human coach (professional, people leader, etc.) remains crucial for understanding nuanced emotions, building trust, and offering empathetic support to the individual being coached. AI technologies can be integrated to complement (not replace!) the coach’s expertise, creating a more comprehensive and effective coaching experience.

Take action!

Don’t currently have a coach? Consider how you might personally benefit from coaching. Then, find out who has coaching skills within your team or organization; or, if you’re looking for a professional external coach, do some quick web searches with key words specific to the type of coaching support you’re hoping to receive.

Are you a people manager or a key influencer? If you’re not already coaching in some capacity as part of your daily work, consider the positive impact it could have on employees; and identity a few core coaching skills you want to grow. And then start coaching, making adjustments along the way as you notice what works and doesn’t work.

Furthermore, research some pragmatic ways that you can collaborate with AI to become a more effective coach.

Let’s connect

I’m an ICF-certified and experienced professional, coaching authentic human leaders in the age of AI, with a focus on organizations whose Director+ population is facing complex, nuanced problems. Use this link to schedule a call with me to discuss potential coaching services. You can also email me or message me on LinkedIn.