Coaching Secrets EXPOSED: How AI is Changing the Game!

In 2014, I attended a Coaching Industry conference in Silicon Valley, California. Presenting was the head of Leadership at Google. While wearing a Star Wars suit, his key message was: computers will take over Coaching.


Today, almost 10 years later, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making impact in many industries, including coaching. It’s safe to say that its impact will further increase in the years ahead.


Let me share how I see coaching in the AI era for the next five to ten years. There are three trends impacting this industry.


  1. AI will play an increasingly bigger role in the sales and marketing of Coaching. But I do not see AI taking over the delivery of coaching. Probably the most important reason is that AI is not capable of being empathetic. Which is critical for an impactful coaching programme. The richness and potential of the human-to-human interaction is for now unique. I don’t know if this is forever (because forever is a long time..).
  2. AI makes coaching better available to the wider public. More tools become available at more affordable price points. Think about coaching sessions with chatbots. Will this experience ever feel like working with a real person? I don’t know. But I don’t expect it in the next years.
  3. AI is assisting coaches in the delivery of their work. It’s a dynamic between AI, the coach and the coachee. AI is giving and checking homework for instance. AI providing structure, tools and ideas. All three working in close partnership. Coaching powered by AI.



What is my advice to (independent) coaches?



  1. Coaches must make sure to differentiate themselves based on their unique points. Today that’s the richness, uniqueness and deep personal relationship with their coachee.
  2. Coaches must choose in which market they want to work. You can’t be everything to everyone. In the mass market you need a platform, efficiency, and sharp pricing. The higher end of the market will probably be left untouched. But is niche and you need an excellent reputation and track record to be accepted. I expect more price pressure in the middle segments of the market.
  3. Embrace Artificial Intelligence to come into your practice. Resisting it makes no sense. Keep your eyes wide open on the developments.
  4. If you work with a toolbox, make sure you have a deep understanding and application to unleash its real power. That’s where you make the difference. Superficial coaching is not sustainable.
  5. Think twice before getting into coaching! Perhaps it appears simple, but it is not! I’m in this industry for 30 years, and I’ve seen so often how people underestimate it. They think: how hard can it be? I promise you: it’s a difficult industry. I’ve seen many great people fail. If you don’t offer real added value, it’s not going to work out. And it will only become more challenging due the AI impact. Look deep into the mirror first, Do some soul searching and ask a couple of people around you (who will tell you the truth) if they think this is a field of work for you?




Hope this inspires.


Paul Donkers



This column was written based on 30 years of deep industry experience, forward looking imagination and without the help of Artificial Intelligence!


Paul Donkers is also the creator of the Ikigai Coaching Institute. Together with their Global Community of Licensed ikigai Coaches, touching at least 100.000 people to enable them to unlock their Ikigai (their daily purpose).