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The Powerful Role of Artificial Intelligence for Coaches

Authored by: Roger Pearman and Robert Eichinger

A very popular subject line in many print and online business pages starts with “What role will artificial intelligence (AI) play in __________?”. The answers are “we don’t know, yet” and “it will change everything”.

We are free today to control our use. This includes whether to leverage AI environments where “hallucinations” are common (such as openAI), or curated AI environments where known, viable, and vetted content lives and can be delivered predictably. We’ll address this decision point in the final paragraphs.

Let’s start with AI in coaching. We do not see AI as a threat to coaches’ relationships and revenue but as an accelerator and extender.

AI will play a material role in coaching for development by offering deeper yet more personalized, data-driven development insights and support, for leaders at all levels.

Potential Benefits of using AI in coaching:

More Fact-Based Coaching

each coach knows what they know based upon their unique background, education, and practice. No one has read everything, had every relevant life and work experience, and are free of overt or unconscious biases. Some knowledge gaps are likely and common. 

AI, on the other hand, can scan vast amounts of data related to talent management, leadership development, and individualized coaching.

The four most frequent areas for coaching, all related to EQ, are Listening skills, Delegating, Conflict Management, and Collaboration (engagement). Experienced coaches have addressed all these development challenges, repeatedly. There are significant resources available in the AI-assisted world to support and extend this related coaching.

If you know how to coach (addressed later), and how to coach differentially, then all that’s left is accurate, actionable, and proven information. This will be dramatically enhanced through AI. Effective coaches, will be even more effective using AI. They will be able to focus in on best practices using the wisdom of the ages, in milliseconds.

Developing People Differently

Surprise! People are different. They learn differently and value different things. Each brings different beliefs, mindsets, personalities, and patterns of emotional intelligence. They are differentially skilled in almost anything you can imagine, and all of these can impact the coaching engagement. The coaches who take singular approaches to working within this diversity will not be broadly effective.

By assessing individuality, AI can help the coach create highly personalized and potent approaches to building productive engagements. This drives effectiveness in the role.

Providing Highly Personalized Paths to Success

Combined with the points above, perfectly aligned development plans and pathways to follow can be provided by more coaches. The best development plans, jobs to aspire to, organizations to be part of and the bosses and colleagues to seek out—all in context to individual differences and perspectives.

Coaching the Coach

There is a constantly emerging set of best practices for how to be an effective coach. These get added to daily by research and practitioner tips.  There are now many coach certification processes available. AI can access supplemental coaching education and support.

Very few coaches are experts at knowing all the best development strategies and practices or the most impactful jobs or assignments for developing needed but not yet mastered capabilities. AI, especially within a curated content environment, can rapidly deliver to coaches these insights and resources to be incorporated into their client work.

Great coaches excel in the discovery processes to learn more about what their clients need most. A coach can use the same skills to query an AI-assisted library of possibilities for improving client effectiveness.  AI is very much a “coach to the coach” for all the reasons above.

Stress and Readiness Assessment

Effective coaches can “read” clients well, especially their readiness to take in critical feedback. They inquire, listen, observe, take note of nonverbals, and work to understand what their clients are thinking. What they learn instructs how fast to go, how deep to penetrate, when to back off, and when to support. Fewer are good at reading what the clients are feeling. Have they closed down and stopped listening? Are they agitated about the feedback they are receiving?  Do they care?

What’s not broadly utilized yet (or even available) are tools that will aid, all with a coachee’s permission, in the interpretation of engagement, emotion, physical response, and more. For example, a “smartwatch” signals the wearer when they are becoming “too emotional” as a caution not to do anything or say anything they will later regret.

Through pulse, blood pressure, galvanic skin response, and other measurements, it could provide signals that inform the pace, the type of content worth exploring, levels of intensity, client reaction, and more. Given what is already known about the force of both physical and social threats to executive functioning, coaches could alter approaches to avoid incidents in which learning and behavioral awareness or change is not likely to occur.

Blue-tooth AI will be able to read the watch (with the wearer’s permission).

A visual AI tool will be able to monitor the client, read nonverbals, and provide course-changing signals to the coach. Similar tools are already being used for behavioral interviewing.

The AI Resource as a Leave Behind, Forever

Effective coaches always wonder if they have done enough. Is the client going to follow through? Most coaching engagements are time-limited–one session, a few sessions, six months, a year-long engagement, etc. There are very few career-long engagements. 

An effective coach can introduce, train, and motivate a client committed to development to use a 24/7 AI tool specific to personal and professional development and effectiveness. It survives the 1:1 relationship and eliminates much of the “now what?” after formal coaching ends.

AI doesn’t replace an effective coach. AI extends the available resources and keeps the door open for re-engagement with a coach.

TalentTelligent’s Career Architect©

Consider our AI-driven Career Architect©.  It contains everything you would ever have to know to be able to grow and flourish in your career. Included are 5000+ development tips and strategies and over 5,000,000 words of supporting development content.

Without an AI assistant, you’d be hard-pressed to sort through the development literature to find exactly what you need to develop and how, the skills gaps to close, the attributional needs, the right roles or assignments to seek out, how to manage, lead and develop others effectively, what internships to seek, what kinds of organizations to work for, and on and on.  The curated information is science-based, experience-tested, and practitioner-verified. 

The Career Architect© will respond expertly to specific orientations such as those related to personality, EQ, teaming, level-specific responsibilities and behavioral practices, and most every organizational/competency model, assessment tool, or development model. It’s quite remarkable if we may say so. Even we have been surprised by its power, capability, and spot-on responses.

The Career Architect© is built in a “closed” AI environment meaning that all the available resources are curated by the authors from their 45+ years of talent management industry leadership, research, publishing, and practice. It eliminates any possibility that “hallucinations” are returned from any query (you’ve heard about these—the puzzling, unrelated, or plain erroneous responses common within open AI environments).

The Coach gets the credit for being able to focus on what matters most for development, in any context. They get credit for extending a resource as versatile and relevant as the Career Architect©.

Coach First, AI Second

While AI can provide valuable enhancement, it’s essential to recognize that human coaching remains crucial. Coaches provide the focus and direction of the development effort, trust building, an understanding of complex emotions, the ability to address individual circumstances, and accountability in the engagement. An approach that combines AI-driven insights with human coaching expertise is likely to be the most effective in developing well-rounded and successful professionals.

And the resources will only get better, faster, and smarter...as soon as tomorrow.

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