Having been a coach for 14 years, I always look forward to International Coaching Federation (ICF) events and wanted to share my key takeaways regarding trends in the coaching field, from ICF Converge which was held in Washington, DC in August 2017.

It was great to see that many top tier firms are focused on creating a feedback-rich culture, as the influx of millennials and new technology are driving these changes. Goldman Sachs was pioneering this approach when I worked there in the 1990s. At the same time, the benefit of coaching to an organization is still greatest at the top of the house. My takeaways are encourage high potentials and senior leaders to embrace “questions are the new answers,” and to become adept at building psychological safety while working virtually.

Here are these trends and speakers that caught my attention:

The influence of millennials—who want meaningful work, flexibility, and more feedback—is driving leading organizations to create a coaching culture, versus only using external coaches for senior executives or high potentials. This means that many organizations are training mangers to be internal coaches, and hiring professional coaches to work internally. Organizationally, they are moving away from autocratic cultures and eliminating the performance management system, setting up regular feedback and coaching sessions that include having employees writing their own self-evaluation to discuss with their managers. PricewaterhouseCoopers gave the most comprehensive and convincing talk on this topic.

Given the increasing speed of change, need for constant innovation, globalization, and increased use of technology, organizations need to embrace new skills and ways of operating to succeed. My favorite speaker was Hal Gregersen, Director of the MIT Leadership Center and author of “Bursting the CEO Bubble” in the Harvard Business Review (March-April 2017). The key skills from Hal and others include:

  • Research shows that the strengths needed to succeed in the 21st century include risk taking, emotional intelligence, creativity, collaboration,  innovation, and resilience—learning how to bounce back from mistakes
  • Greater emphasis on how to work effectively in a virtual world; challenge to create an environment of psychological safety so that trust can be built
  • Increase in virtual coaching and learning versus in-person coaching and learning
  • Need to learn how to manage the distractions in a technologically-wired world

Given the speed of change and isolation that leaders face as they become more senior, it becomes more critical to be more rigorous about asking questions; we don’t know what we don’t know; questions are becoming the new answers as a tool to help leaders be more effective; here are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  • How often are you surprised?
  • How often do you seek out new and different situations?
  • How many times are you dead wrong?
  • How often do you get asked questions that make you uncomfortable?

Coaching senior leaders and senior leadership teams still gets the greatest bang for the buck. Research shows that high-performing executives add more than $25,000 to the bottom line, and that 70% of managers annoy their staffs. Also research shows that leaders who network rise faster than those who focus on being effective and building teams. This is why organizations still need to teach people how to be strategically self-aware, politically savvy, and effective team leaders. Robert Hogan, the developer of Hogan Assessments spoke on this topic.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *